The panel investigating cases of police brutality in Abuja, on Tuesday, ordered the former head of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigerian police, Abba Kyari, to be produced over a case of alleged enforced disappearance of a suspect arrested in 2018.
It ordered that Mr Kyari, a deputy commissioner of police, who was, in July, fingered in a $1.1million fraudulent scheme by the United States government, be produced along with Vincent Makinde, a police inspector, also of the IRT.
They are scheduled to appear before the panel on November 26.
It was the umpteenth time the 11-man panel, set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the aftermath of the October 2020 #EndSARS anti-police brutality protest, would be giving such an order, as previous invitations by the panel were snubbed by the police officers.
Morris Ashwe, missing since 2018, was said to have been arrested by the Mr Kyari-led IRT in Makurdi, Benue State, on May 1, 2018.
His brother, Raphael Ashwe, who petitioned the panel, said Morris was detained and paraded at a police station in Makurdi after his arrest.
He added that the family had access to him until he was moved to Abuja two days after the parade.
According to him, the family has made several appeals and sent many letters to the IRT, asking for information on the whereabouts of his elder brother, all to no avail.
In his petition filed, the petitioner joined the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and the IGP, along with Messrs Kyari and Makinde as the respondents.
Garba Tetengi, who presided over the proceedings in the absence of the chairperson, Suleiman Galadima, on Tuesday, restated the panel’s previous orders to the police officers to produce the two officers to shed light on the matter.
Concerned about their absence from the proceedings, Mr Tetengi asked the leader of the police legal team at the panel, James Idachaba, to ensure the summoned police officers appeared for justice to be done.
But Mr Idachaba appealed for the postponement of the defence by the police.
“The defence counsel cannot close the defence without hearing from the respondents especially Inspector Vincent Makinde. The allegations against him are weighty. We ask that the panel adjourn the case for the sake of fair hearing,” Mr Idachaba said.
He said while Mr Makinde had been bed-ridden for six months, Mr Kyari was unavailable because he was under suspension.
Mr Kyari was suspended by police authorities after he was fingered in a $1.1million fraud scheme unveiled by the United States government in July.
The fraudulent scheme was allegedly coordinated by a former Nigerian Instagram celebrity, Abbas Ramon, better known as Hushpuppi,
The findings of a panel set up by the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to determine Mr Kyari’s culpability in the scheme have yet to be made public months after the report was submitted.
Mr Idachaba told the #EndSARS panel on Tuesday that all efforts made to contact him through his office had been abortive.
Application for adjournment opposed
The panel’s counsel, Chino Obiagwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, objected to Mr Idachaba’s request for an adjournment.
He said the case had been adjourned on several occasions at the instance of two police officers whom he accused of repeatedly snubbing the panel’s summons. He expressed surprise that Mr Idachaba could be asking for the adjournment of the case when he was aware that it was fixed for Tuesday for a definite hearing.
Mr Idachaba implored the panel to allow Mr Makinde to appear to tell his side of the story for the sake of fair hearing and justice.
He said despite Mr Makinde’ss health conditions, the legal team would try its best to bring him to the panel.
The panel decided to indulge the legal team one more time, restating the previous orders for the police officers to appear.
The panel also advised that, if Mr Makinde would be unable to attend the next hearing, the legal team should get some form of evidence from him to shed light on the whereabouts of Mr Morris.
Mr Obiagwu wondered why the police force could not have a record of arrested and detained individuals even when the individual police officer involved was not available.
The record, if available, could have helped the panel’s investigation in finding out the whereabouts of Mr Morris.
The case was adjourned till November 26 for defence.
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