The #EndSARS panel set up to investigate cases of police brutality in Abuja, on Monday, ordered the police to liaise with the family of Simon Nyamkwange, who was allegedly shot dead by members of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police.
The panel chaired by Suleiman Galadima, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, gave the order following complaints by the deceased family that the police were holding unto the remains of the deceased one year after he was allegedly killed by them in Abuja.
Uju Terseer, the lawyer to the complainant, informed the panel that efforts by the deceased’s brother, Abraham Nyamkwange, to retrieve his brother’s corpse from the Wuse General Hospital in Abuja, for burial had been futile.
“We have written several letters to the police, demanding the corpse of Mr Nyamkwange for burial, but to no avail,” Mr Terseer told the panel.
The Nyamkwange family had filed a petition at the panel detailing the circumstances that led to their brother’s gruesome murder.
According to the petition, the late Nyamkwange was allegedly shot at the Eterna Filling Station in Abuja by a SARS operative on April 22, 2020.
The investigating police officer in charge of Mr Nyamkwange’s case reportedly informed the deceased’s family that their brother was alive at the time he was brought to the police station, but bled to death due to lack of medical care.
The petitioner revealed in his filing before the panel that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the Wuse Police Division, Mamman Barakwai, “informed him that there was an armed robbery attack at Eterna Filling Station,” which led to the deployment of his men.
“He (Mr Barakwai, the DPO) sent his squad to the place (Eterna Filling Station), and that the deceased challenged them (the SARS team), that was when they opened fire on him (late Nyamkwange).
The complaint further disclosed that Aunde Peter, a police officer, extorted N200,000 from the family on the pretext of helping them to retrieve their brother’s remains from the police for burial.
This development prompted Mr Galadima to direct the panel’s lawyer, Chino Obiagwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to work out a meeting with police legal team and the Nyamkwange family for the release of deceased’s corpse for burial.
Addressing the panel on Monday, police lawyer, Fidelis Ogwobe, said the IPO in charge of Mr Nyamkwange’s case had travelled to Anambra State for election duty.
He said the police legal department was not aware of the complainant’s request for the release of the deceased person’s corpse, a claim contradicted by series of request letters by the Nyamkwanges attached to documents filed at the panel.
Following Mr Ogwobe’s request, the case was adjourned till November 12, 2021, for hearing.
The NHRC’s 11-member Independent Investigative Panel commonly referred to as #EndSARS panel, was inaugurated in October 2020 to probe various forms of rights violations perpetrated by the operatives of the defunct SARS and other police units.
Part of its mandates was to recommend compensations for victims and sanctions or prosecution for erring police officers.
The setting up of the panel replicated in about 29 states and Abuja was triggered by the nationwide #EndSARS anti-police brutality protest led by the youth against the brutal activities of men of the defunct SARS in October last year.
The protest led to the disbandment of SARS, with authorities promising ‘broad’ police reforms and setting up of the judicial panels of inquiry across the states to compensate victims.
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