GYANG BERE, Jos
Until the day she dies, January 25, 2018, would remain a black day in the life of 64-year-old Justina Anthony, a widow, whose only son and a graduate of marine engineering, Henry Anthony Dokatiri, was killed by operatives of the Special Armed Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Plateau State Police Command, Jos.
Dokatiri, 32, graduated from Maritime Academy, Oron, Akwa Ibom State in 2016, and was processing his admission for a postgraduate programme in the same institution before his aspiration was truncated by SARS operatives, who allegedly snuffed life out of him in cold blood.
Before his untimely death, Dokatiri was living with his uncle, Victor Dokatiri, at Dorowa, Bukuru, a suburb of Jos, Plateau State capital. On the fateful day, he went on an outing in the evening of Monday, January 22, to a football viewing centre in Zawang, in the neighbourhood. When he stepped out of the viewing centre to go home, a young woman, Margaret Clement, who was buying some items at a provision store, beckoned on him to wait for her.
Barely three minutes after, a Hilux van on top speed screeched to a halt by the shops and heavily armed SARS operatives alighted in a commando style, brandishing their rifles menacingly. They simply hauled anybody in sight into their vehicle. Henry and Margaret were among 11 persons arrested in a jiffy by the operatives from shops, a drinking joint and the viewing centre.
Convinced that those picked up by the police had not committed an offence, youths in the area mobilized to prevent them from being taken away. As the SARS operatives, who were ostensibly on a raid sped off after a mission accomplished, one of them allegedly fired a shot and the bullet hit Henry on the forehead. Her fell inside the van and cried for help. Margaret removed her wrapper and tied it round his head to stop the bleeding, but her efforts could not save the situation.
Unfortunately, rather than rushing him to a medical facility for treatment, the operatives drove triumphantly to their station at Bukuru, Jos South Local Government Area of the state, where Henry and three other injured suspects were reportedly kept for about 30 minutes, before they were taken to Plateau Specialist Hospital, in Jos.
After dumping their victims at the hospital, the policemen zoomed off as Dokatiri lay unconscious, his breath fading progressively. Hospital officials allegedly did not attend to him promptly due to bureaucracy and lack of funds until one of the victims paid for the initial expenses before treatment was commenced.
Though doctors were said to have tried their best to stabilize him, he remained unconscious. The doctors said he would need brain surgery to regain consciousness. It turned out to be a failed optimism. Three days later, he passed on without bidding farewell to his beloved mother.
“Why did they not kill me in place of him, what was his offense? That is what I need to know; if not, they must return him alive. He will not come back to this sinful world, but I will ensure justice prevails. I don’t know what calm and jovial Henry could have done to SARS operatives to deserve brutality that ended his life,” she lamented.
Justina, a peasant farmer who hails from Gashi district in Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area of the state, wants the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to unmask the killers of her son and ensure they are diligently prosecuted. This, she said, was the only way to assuage her pains. She had initially resolved to ensure that justice was done before Henry would be buried. But following persuasion by members of her family, she agreed to allow him to be buried, and he was laid to rest on Saturday, February 17, at Gashi.
However, prior to his burial, youths of the community marched on the streets to protest the killing and demand justice. They insisted that those culpable must be brought to book. The protest lasted for two days and it was a Herculean task for authorities at the headquarters of the Plateau State Police Command to calm frayed nerves.
Two days after the incident, the Commissioner of Police, Undie Adie, visited the family at Dorowa, Zawang community of Jos South Local Government Area to commiserate with them. While giving assurance that the family would get justice, Adie disclosed that 15 SARS officers were arrested in connection with the incident and had been charged to court.