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Ateneo's Ikeh on arrest: I am innocent

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ateneo Blue Eagles center Chibueze Ikeh insists he is innocent of the charges brought against him after he was arrested on Wednesday night, November 4, following a win over the UP Fighting Maroons.

The Cameroon native says he had never stepped foot inside a police station before that night, when police officers entered the locker room at Araneta Coliseum just moments after the team walked off the court.

Ikeh left the arena and was transported to Camp Karingal in Quezon City, where he was charged with violating Republic Act 9262, known as the "Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004."

Ikeh spent a night in custody before being released at noon the next day after posting P24,000 bail. Despite having a game against arch rivals De La Salle University to prepare for on Sunday, November 8, his thoughts are back home.

“I just hope my mom never hears of this, [because] it will kill her,” Ikeh said in a Twitter message. “I feel bad because I only want to study here and not bring a bad name to the school.

According to an Inquirer report, the complaint says that a woman identified as Elsa Payumo-Ulloa had dated Ikeh in 2014 after meeting him through her work as a sports coordinator for Ateneo and a representative for Guam basketball. 

The reports alleges that Ikeh borrowed in excess of $1,000 during their time together. Ikeh is also accused of borrowing her smartphone, then throwing it when she asked for it back. He is also accused of calling her a “bitch” in public.

Ikeh, who is averaging 4.9 PPG, 9.7 RPG and 1.4 BPG through 12 games in his first season in the UAAP, says the night in question happened at an Ateneo dorm hall. He emphasizes that he’s not been accused of hitting a woman, despite the verbiage attached to the charge, and says witnesses – including an Ateneo assistant – will corroborate his version of events.

“I was shocked to see she said I called her a bitch,” says Ikeh. “All I ever said that night and kept screaming was ‘What the fuck do you want from me?’”

Ikeh says the woman – described by The Tiebreaker Times as being in her late-40s to mid-50s  had given him gifts, which he returned at her request. He says she was not his girlfriend, and that she became possessive and threatened to have Ateneo kick him out when he refused to relocate to Guam with her.

He also disputes the $1,000 figure, saying he was only gifted $150 on his birthday via money transfer, but says he neither requested nor picked up the money.

Broken phone

He does admit to borrowing and damaging her phone, a Samsung Galaxy S5, but says he had offered to repair and replace the phone.

“Why I broke the phone is because I told my coach I needed to back up my contacts before I can hand it over that night. But she insisted I give it up like that,” Ikeh says.

“The next day I went to Greenhills to get it fixed but they said the phone parts weren't available then. That’s why I pleaded with a family friend from Baltimore to send me one to replace.” She wouldn’t accept it though, he says.

After Ikeh posted bail, Ateneo athletics director Em Fernandez told reporters that the issue was a “private matter” which didn’t warrant suspension, as only a school suspension would bar someone from UAAP play.

Payumo-Ulloa has not yet been contacted to answer allegations made against her.

For now, the team’s focus is on its remaining two games. Ateneo (8-4) is one game behind the second placed UST and has already been guaranteed a spot in the UAAP Final Four.

After Sunday’s game against DLSU (5-6) at Araneta, the Blue Eagles will face University of the East in their final elimination round game on Saturday, November 14.

Ikeh will likely be on the floor for Ateneo this Sunday, where he hopes he can contribute as he usually does – quietly but efficiently.

“I never want to be on the spotlight. I have always been contented with what I have,” says Ikeh. 

"I feel terrible [because I] am here without my family and just want to study here. I don't want to bring bad name to a school that gave me a chance to get education, but all this makes me feel I have failed them.

"I only know [I] am innocent." –