The panel investigating alleged human rights violations committed by police personnel, in Abuja, on Monday, ordered the arrest of three police officers, who reportedly shunned repeated invitations to appear in an extra-judicial killing case.
The police officers are Musa Sunday, Lucky Kehinde, and Lucky Okuku.
The panel constituted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in the aftermath of last year’s #EndSARS protests, ordered the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to produce them on April 14 to answer to a petition concerning the death of Ovoke Onomrerhino in Delta State in 2019.
Police authorities had claimed that Mr Onomrerhino was arrested for armed robbery and died from the injuries he sustained after he allegedly jumped off a moving police van.
They had claimed the three police officers were in the vehicle when the incident happened.
But the father of the deceased, Godwin Onomrerhino, who petitioned the panel, had disputed the claim by the police, insisting that his son was extrajudicially killed.
The panel led by Suleiman Galadima, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, on Monday, berated the Nigerian police for abdicating their responsibilities and showing lack of preparedness in respect of the alleged crime.
Mr Galadima, who chairs the 11-member panel, queried police lawyer, Malik Taiwo, on why the three policemen invited to appear before the panel on two different occasions had refused to turn up.
He asked Mr Taiwo to tell the panel efforts the defence had made to produce the police officers.
Responding, Mr Taiwo, said ”the CSP has testified; it is just remaining two other police officers who are yet to be cross-examined.”
He, thereafter, urged the panel to adjourn the case.
Meanwhile, Garba Tetengi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and member of the panel, expressed displeasure about the attitude of the police in respect of the case.
”You want us to order for their arrest? I do not know what exactly is the problem. We are not making progress,” Mr Tetengi said, adding, “this is shocking!”
Dissatisfied with Mr Taiwo’s defence, the panel ordered the arrest of the three police officers.
The panel also ordered the IGP to ensure the arrest and production of the officers before the panel on April 14.
The proceedings of the panel had been adjourned on different occasions due to the absence of the three officers since the hearing of the case started on December 3, 2020.
‘How deceased died’
The petitioner, Godwin Onomrerhino, the father of the deceased, had told the panel that his son (Ovoke Onomrerhino) was extra-judicially killed by the police.
He said he wrote a petition to Nigeria Police Force Zone 5 in Delta State, demanding an investigation.
He told the panel the police had yet to release the remains of his son for burial on the grounds that they were still investigating the matter.
But the police authorities had given a different account about how the deceased died.
Isah Hassan, a chief superintendent of police and former Division Police Officer (DPO), Abraka, Delta State, and Tambari Kambari, an inspector and investigative police officer, both testified on December 3, 2020, describing Mr Onomrerhino, the deceased, as an armed robbery suspect.
Mr Hassan said the deceased was arrested on June 29, 2019, by the Igun Vigilante Group for an armed robbery incident on the Eku-Igun Highway in Delta State on June 28, 2019.
He said the victim had taken policemen to where his gang kept their weapons, adding that as they were returning to the station, the suspect jumped off a police vehicle while in motion and sustained injuries.
They claimed that the suspect was taken to Abraka General Hospital where he died afterwards.
Mr Tambari had also been ordered by the panel to produce documents relating to the movement of the deceased’s corpse to Medisarj Hospital, Obiakuru, Delta state.
The panel adjourned hearing till April 14.
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