From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
A panel set up by the Bayelsa State Government has declared that the Bayelsa State Police Command has no hand in the killing of Samuel Okoba at Ovom community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
According to the Police, Okoba was arrested by the police on March 18 at Ovom, a suburb of Yenagoa over alleged robbery and when he attempted to escape, he injured himself on the neck which led to his death.
The Ovom youths however threatened violence claiming that Okoba was innocent but was murdered by the Police.
The state government set up the panel investigate the circumstances that led to his death and fish out the killers.
The report of the panel presented to the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo in Government House, Yenagoa on Thursday by the Vice Chancellor of Bayelsa Medical University and Chairman of the Panel, Professor Ebitimitula Etebu stated that the autopsy carried out on Samuel’s body indicated that the 17-year-old youth died as a result of bleeding from a cut on one of the major arteries on his neck.
The report stressed that the injury was not connected with gunshot, thereby absolving the police of complicity in the death of Mr Okoba, which is contrary to earlier reports and speculations that greeted the March 18, 2021 incident.
He explained that the process was transparent as representatives comprising the deceased’s family, Ovom community and human rights organizations witnessed all aspects of the autopsy.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo in his remarks expressed sadness over the unfortunate passing of young Okoba, noting that government deliberately insisted on the involvement of all parties for truth and justice to prevail.
The Deputy Governor, who appreciated the Okoba family and Ovom Community for their show of what he described as rational understanding, promised that government would look into their requests including the release of the corpse for burial.
In their separate submissions, the representative of Okoba family, Mr James Okoba and a leader of Ovom Community, Chief Loveday Abaribote expressed satisfaction with the level of transparency and diligence employed in the process of Investigation.
According to them, they were among the parties that witnessed the whole process of the autopsy, which lasted for more than three hours.
While announcing his family’s acceptance of the report, Okoba, however, appealed to government for the release of the remains of the deceased for burial as part of measures to assuage their grief and pain.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator of the Bayelsa Office of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr Eugene Baadom, has also given a clean bill of health to the panel’s report and called for the prompt release of Okoba’s body for burial.