A 54-year-old alleged victim of police abuse and torture, Basil Cheta, passed on last week after suffering from different ailments, including a brain tumour, following his encounter with the police, a family member told the judicial panel on Tuesday.
Chukwu Vincent, who testified for the family of the bereaved, told the panel that his cousin was arrested in 2014 at the Igando area of Lagos and was taken to Igando police station where he was detained and tortured.
He explained that the victim was accosted on May 9, 2014, on his way back from Alaba International Market, where he was selling electronics.
“They damaged and broke the bones of his two legs with hammer and iron rod. And he was later taken to SARS Ikeja where he spent more days,” Mr Vincent said.
“At that place, he was released on May 31, 2014; his head was broken, damaged and had serious wounds all over his head.
“At this point, he could not walk anymore, he couldn’t even remember certain things. So we started taking him from one hospital to another hospital.
“We rushed him to one Elshadai hospital at Iyana School, Iba-Igando road. Thereafter we were referred to another general hospital in the same local government,” Mr Vincent said.
The witness told the judicial panel that the late Mr Cheta was later diagnosed of brain tumour.
“From the results at the hospital, they said it was as a result of the serious injuries to the head.
“We started nursing different ailments, from his legs to his head,” he said.
Mr Vincent told the panel that the victim was treated between 2014 and 2017 and when he was able to walk in 2017, he initiated a lawsuit against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi.
Mr Cheta died on November 17 after spending a fortune on treating the ailments he suffered, the witness told the panel.
“We took him to the village when his condition was severe and that was where he died,” Mr Vincent said.
“They said he looked liked a suspect and that’s why they arrested him; he was later released after 21 days with serious injuries,” Mr Vincent told PREMIUM TIMES in a separate interview.
Meanwhile, before his demise, Mr Cheta obtained a favourable judgement at the Federal High Court as damages of N40 million was awarded against SARS on April 16, 2019.
The court judgement which was presented to the panel was admitted as exhibit A.
Mr Vincent also presented hospital bills, medical reports and scans of the late Mr Cheta to the panel as evidence. They were admitted as Exhibit B.
Mr Vincent appealed to the panel to help the family obtain the N40 million damages awarded to the victim.
Joseph Eboseremen, the counsel representing the police in the matter, requested an adjournment for cross-examination of the witness.
Dorris Okuwobi, the chairperson of the panel, adjourned the matter to December 4 for further hearing.
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