Torture victim died in Police custody not hospital, counsel tells panel
Inspector Onoja Is Not A Witness Of Truth
Complainant’s counsel, R.O. Adakole in the alleged extra-judicial killing of Peter Ekwealor of Odekpe Community in Anambra State has told the Independent Investigation Panel on alleged police brutality to hold that a police witness, Inspector Ahmed Onoja of the IGP IRT, Force Headquarters, Abuja lied about where the victim died.
The petitioner’s counsel informed the 11-Member Panel chaired by Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd) that while the victim died in the hands of the police, following intense torture, the police witness, Onoja claimed that the deceased was taken to the hospital before he eventually gave up the ghost.
Buttressing his point, Adakole upon cross-examination of the police witness, asked the witness whether he knows the meaning of B.I.D., and he answered no.
Explaining to him, Adakole said B.I.D means Brought In Dead just like he noted that Peter Ekwealor was dead already before his body was deposited in the mortuary.
Against the forgoing, he told the police witness that the hospital card with which the police deposited the body of late Peter Ekwealor in the Mortuary of Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja carries the information that the victim died before he was brought to the hospital.
In view of the above, Adakole asked the panel to hold that the police witness is not a witness of truth and for the reason the panel should not rely on his testimonies.
The Complainant’s counsel also told the panel that from the testimonies of the police witness, Peter Ekwealor died on 16th of June, 2020.
He pointed out that as at 3rd of September 2020, when he wrote a letter to the the former Commander of IRT, Abba Kyari over the condition of the victim, no information about his death was released to the deceased family despite the fact that the victim had died before the said letter was written.
The Complainant’s lawyer also confronted the police witness with the alleged extra-judicial killing of one Aboy in Odekpe community by the police when they reportedly went on a peace mission in the area, following a land dispute between the community and another community known as Ani.
The police witness said that he was not aware of the death of Aboy and that he only investigated the death of CSP Akor Ude who was allegedly killed by some members of Odekpe Community.
The panel directed the police to conduct autopsy on the body of late Ekwealor and release the same to the family for burial.
Panel’s directive followed an oral application by Adakole that the body of Ekwealor be released to the family for burial.
It will be recalled the Patrick Simon Akor had narrated how his elder brother, ASP Akor Ude was allegedly killed by three men from Odekpe community in Anambra when he led a police team to the community on a peace mission.
Simon had testified that those who slain his brother are the complainants before the panel concerning death custody, arbitrary arrest and detention, unlawful use of firearm resulting in extra-judicial killing and abuse of office.
According to Simon, the witness, the complainants and killers of his brother are Chief Peter Ikechi, Peter Ekwealor (deceased) and Mr. Ekene Okona from Odekpe.
Giving an account of the death of his brother, he said that he had arranged with the late ASP Ude to attend their sister’s traditional wedding slated for April 25, 2020 and the occasion was close to the period he led a police team to Odekpe on a peace mission.
Specifically, he informed the panel that his elder brother had then asked him (Simon) to proceed from Kaduna State (where he resides) to their village, Otukpa in Ogbadigbo Local Government Area of Benue State for the proposed traditional wedding of their sister.
He told the panel that he travelled to his village waiting for his brother, who earlier informed him of his peace mission in Odekpe, only to discover that he was not in the village as agreed.
He said that the family waited for him and he was nowhere to be found and he asked the suitor and his kinsmen that accompanied him to the traditional wedding that ASP Ude, his elder brother is the one permitted by their tradition to give out the sister for wedding and as well bless the wedlock.
He disclosed to the panel that on the 26th of April 2020, he suddenly received an anonymous call from his elder brother’s phone informing him that his brother had been killed in Odekpe Community and that the caller informed him that he would not call him again over the matter.