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Panel insists police produce officers allegedly linked to extrajudicial killing

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
05 November 2021   |   3:38 am
The 11-member Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) on activities of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), yesterday, insisted the police produce three officers linked to the alleged extrajudicial killing of Ovoke Godwin Onomrerhino..

The 11-member Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) on activities of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), yesterday, insisted the police produce three officers linked to the alleged extrajudicial killing of Ovoke Godwin Onomrerhino, to unravel circumstances of the victim’s death.

The panel, chaired by Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd), also reminded the police that the first respondent in the petition, CSP Isah Hassan, has not been discharged as a witness, since he is yet to furnish the panel with documents showing how Ovoke died in a hospital and how his body was subsequently deposited in a mortuary.

According to the panel, it is important that Hassan and the three officers: Sgt. Musa, Sgt. Lucky Kehinde, and Sgt. Lucky Okuku appear to clarify issues on the victim’s death.

Consequently, the panel directed the police legal team, led by James Idachaba, to ensure the officers are brought before the panel on November 24, 2021, being the next adjourned date.

Earlier, counsel to the petitioner, Onome Juliet Okoroze, told the panel that Hassan had, in his testimony, said Sgt. Musa, Sgt. Lucky Kehinde and Sgt. Lucky Okuku were in a police vehicle when the late Ovoke jumped off and sustained serious injuries, which led to his death at a hospital in Delta State.

Also, the panel reminded the Nigeria Police Force that it has a duty to explain to Nigerians the whereabouts of persons it arrested, who are supposedly in its custody.

Galadima said this at the hearing on alleged violation of right to personal liberty and enforced disappearance of one Eric Ezeala, who was arrested in 2017 by SARS operatives, and of whom family members have since heard nothing.

The chairman, who was visibly angry, told Idachaba that the police cannot run away from answering questions on the enforced disappearance of Ezeala. “We must get to the bottom of this case as quickly as possible,” he said.

Idachaba assured the panel, saying: “I will get involved personally to find out the whereabouts of Eric Ezeala.” He said from the preliminary investigation he carried out, Ezeala was arrested by the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT) and not SARS, as alleged by his family.

In her testimony, Hilda Ezeala, mother of the victim, had said that in July 2017, policemen arrested her son and asked her to come with her lawyer to Owerri SARS office. But upon getting there, she was informed that the victim had been transferred to Abuja, following which she heard nothing about him.