A police sergeant, Moses David, told the #EndSARS panel investigating cases of police brutality in Abuja, on Friday, why he shot a man who was said to have subsequently bled to death in April last year.
The family of Simon Nyamkwange had filed at the panel a complaint of his extra-judicial killing and “continued seizure of his corpse by the police“.
As of Friday, the family’s lawyer told the panel that the corpse had been held by the police for over 600 days in defiance to entreaties for its release for burial.
Mr David, presented by the police legal team as the first defence witness in the case, admitted shooting the deceased at about 1a.m. on April 22, 2020 at Eterna Filling Station, Wuse Zone 2, Abuja.
He said about five armed men including the deceased had jumped over the fence into the premises of the filling station as soon as a power cut occurred.
“At about 1 a.m. at Eterna filling station, Wuse zone 2 where I was posted. Electricity light went off and a group of armed people (about five) jumped over the fence of the filling station and started coming at me,” he said.
He said he tried to scare them away by “cocking his gun and flashing his torchlight at them”. According to him, while three of them retreated, the two others, one of whom was Mr Nyamkwange, stayed back.
“Three of them went back while one kept coming at me, got close and tried struggling for the firearm with me.
“That was when I released fire on him,” Mr David said.
He added that he called his divisional police officer who then called Wuse divisional patrol to convey “the wounded gang member” to the hospital where he eventually died.
Another police officer, Danjuma Kadiri, an assistant superintendent of police, who claimed to be at the scene of the incident, confirmed Mr David’s testimony.
“We were at the filling station together but at different spots. I heard noises and went to see what happened,” Mr Kadiri said.
The two witnessess were cross-examined by the complainant’s counsel and the panel.
The Nyamkwange family, represented by the deceased’s brother, Abraham Nyamkwange, said in their petition, that the deceased was shot at the Eterna Filling Station in Abuja by an operative of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on April 12, 2020.
According to them, the investigating police officer in charge of the case had informed them that the deceased was alive at the time he was brought to the police station, but bled to death due to lack of medical care.
On what led to the shooting incident, they said the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the Wuse Police Division, Mamman Barakwai, said “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 petition read in part.
Panel summons chief medical director
Meanwhile, the panel presided over by Garba Tetengi in the absence of its chairperson, Suleiman Galadima, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, on Friday, summoned the Chief Medical Director (CMD) or a representative of Wuse General Hospital, Abuja, where Mr Nyamkwange was said to have been taken to before or after he died.
Earlier, the Nyamkwange family’s lawyer, I.J Mbatsadu, expressed the frustration of the family over their inability to collect the remains of Mr Nyamkwange and give him a befitting burial after over 600 days. He told the panel that the body had been identified by them.
“We are not saying they should not conduct their defence, but we will appreciate it if the panel can take a definitive stance on the matter. We have been going back and forth since November 1. We have gone through very serious stress before the body was finally shown to us on Wednesday,” Mr Mbatsadu added.
Recall that the panel had on November 1, 2021, ordered the police to release the remains of Mr. Nyamkwange following complaints by the deceased’s family that the police had adamantly held on to the body of the victim.
But Fidelis Ogwobi, a member of the police defence team, who earlier led the two defence witnesses in evidence, said the panel needed to ascertain the circumstances of the death of Mr Nyamkwange before demanding the release of the corpse.
Mr Igwobi added that an autopsy will be carried out on the deceased’s body to ascertain the cause of death.
The panel then ordered that autopsy be carried out on the body of the deceased.
The panel added that after the autopsy, the body should be released to the family for burial.
It ordered that the CMD of Wuse General Hospital or a representative “shall appear at the next adjourned date to present or the panel the result of the autopsy.”
It adjourned the case till November 29 for submission of final written addresses.
The panel was set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) after last year’s #EndSARS anti-police brutality protest.
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