From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Victims of SARS and Related Abuses ordered on Tuesday that two Chief Superintendents of Police of the Ogida Division, Benin City, appear before it on December 17 to explain their roles in the alleged assault and extortion of one Mrs Patience Okundaye, aged, 61.
Mrs Okundaye told the panel that some group of persons foiled an attempted attack on her son and that one of the hoodlums was apprehended and handed over to the police, but due to their negligence, the suspect ascaped with handcuffs while still in their custody.
‘On the 5 January, 2019, my son, some group of boys wanted to attack him but with the help of some youths in the area, they were able to apprehend one and took him to the police station; but for sometime, the police complained that the boy they have arrested and brought before them has an injury,’ Mrs Okundaye complained.
‘So, the police took the boy to the police health centre with handcuffs on his hands, but less than 45 minutes later, they called my son that the the boy on handcuffs has escaped.
‘Then the police called us to the station and on getting there we found out that the boy has actually escaped.
‘So, I wrote to the DPO that being that the suspect has escaped, that our lives are no longer safe.
‘From there, we went to the State Headquarters and when I narrated my story, the Commissioner of Police then ordered that the Anti-Cultist unity of the Command to come and watch over my house until the police are able to fish out the criminal.
‘They only came to watch over my house on the 5th of February. On the 6th of March, my daughter, who celebrated her marriage on 1st and 2nd of March, on the 6th, in the afternoon, police burst my house, burst my gate, turned my house upside down, all the boys that were present, they arrested all.
‘They further said my children are criminals and I said my children were not criminals,’ she said.
Okundaye brought a plasma TV set to the panel to play the recorded video of how the disbanded SARS raided her house and assaulted her.
‘They dragged me to the police station with only wrappers and singlets on my body, loaded my vehicle with the drinks we were to use on Sunday, and went away with them.
‘To cut the story short, my son spent N600,000 to bail all those who were arrested in my compound.
‘He also paid N200,000 to bail me and my last born.
‘Others spent close to a week in the cell before they were bailed,’ she noted.
She pleaded with the panel to invite the said police officers and recommend adequate sanction for them.
‘What I want from this panel is that the policemen who were involved in this act should be summoned to appear before this panel and they should be prosecuted,’ she said.
The Chairman of the panel, Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe, ordered that the said officers to appear before the panel on 17 December, 2020.
‘Certain police officers were referred in the body of the petition.
“The Police Officers are one DPO, Ogida barracks division by name, CSP Tope and there is also, the OC Anti-Kidnapping and Cultism, CSP Balogun. These officers are ordered to appear before this panel on the 17 December 2020,’ Ehigiamusoe said.
In the same vein, a heated argument ensued between the counsel to the Nigerian Police, CSO Nwandi, Esq, and a member of the panel over the authenticity of a medical report presented by a petitioner, Mr Abebe Emmanuel before the panel.
Abebe, 41, was shot on his leg in 2011 by the disbanded SARS who invaded his compound.
The argument, which almost turned violent, happened when the police counsel tried to question the personality and the authority of whose signature appeared on the medical report presented by Mr Abebe.
In response, Dr Usiosefe Anthony Ereyimwan, member of the panel, said the police counsel has the moral rectitude to do that because the name of the hospital and the medical doctor who signed the document is a man of high reputation.
It, however, took the intervention to calm frayed nerves by subsequently adjourning for a further day.