CSO lauds Imo commission for ordering release of security breach victims’ bodies
Spaces for Change (S4C) has applauded the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into recent security breaches in Imo State for ordering the immediate release, for burial, the bodies of Magnus Okoro and Chidozie Chukwu to their families.
The order was made on April 28, 2022, The Guardian gathered, following an application by S4C, a Lagos-based civil society group.
A statement, yesterday, by the Executive Director of S4C, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, reads: “By the order, the Imo State Commissioner of Police (CP) and the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, are directed to immediately release the corpses of these young men to their mothers –Mrs. Rose Okoro and Mrs. Cecilia Chukwu, both widows from Ubachima Awomama, Oru East Local Council of Imo State – at no cost to their families.
“The CP and FMC shall carry out this order within 14 days from April 28, 2022.”
Applauding the commission for being resolute in upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of Imo citizens violated during the series of security breaches in the state, S4C promised to take necessary steps to ensure full compliance with the orders.
S4C has been providing free legal assistance to widows under its pro bono legal assistance programme.
The late Chukwu (39) and Okoro (34) were reportedly arrested on June 8, 2021, alongside other youths during a raid of Ubahu and Ubachima communities by the police from the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Owerri, on the grounds that local youths burnt down Imo governor’s country home in Omuma community, Oru East.
While in custody, the deceased young men were allegedly “transferred to Abuja” and their bodies were later found at FMC morgue in Owerri.
This prompted S4C to file a petition against the police at the Imo State Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Security Breaches, on behalf of two widows, seeking justice for the extrajudicial killing by officers of the Anti-kidnapping Unit, SCID Owerri.
Despite the controversial circumstances surrounding their death, FMC authorities demanded heavy fees, refused to release the bodies to their families and referred them to the SCID for clearance.
The April 28 court order seems to have brought relief and closure to mourning families, who are already traumatised by the nonchalant attitude of Imo police command during the hearing.
Several attempts to get the respondents to appear before the commission reportedly proved abortive.
While other claims made against Imo police command are to be determined later, an elated Mrs. Chukwu says “this order brings us closer to justice.”