The #EndSARS panel investigating cases of police brutality in Abuja, on Thursday, asked the police legal team to produce police officers named in connection to the death of Dul Kate Maxwell, a sergeant, who allegedly died mysteriously in custody in 2019.
The officers of interest, according to the panel, include the Divisional Police Officer of Denton Police Division, Lagos State, the officer in charge of the defunct Special Ant-Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos State, and the second in command of the Lagos State SARS.
The Suleiman Galadima-led #EndSARS panel in Abuja ordered that the legal team should either produce the officers on December 1 or provide relevant information about the “mysterious death” of the deceased.
The incident occurred in February 2019, according to Mr Maxwell’s uncle, Ndam Tokbe, who testified before the panel on Thursday.
Mr Tokbe said he received a call from a station officer of ABJ Railway police station, Ebute Metta, telling him that his brother had been arrested and taken to Denton Police station in Ebute Metta, Lagos State.
“I took permission from work and hurried to ABJ Railway police station. On getting there, the officers there told me my brother had been arrested the previous day,” Mr Tokbe said.
He said he was told by Mr Maxwell’s colleagues at ABJ Railway police station that his nephew worked overnight and was on his way home in the morning when a motorcyclist hit him.
An altercation, Mr Tokbe said, ensued, with Mr Maxwell threatening to arrest the motorcyclist for allegedly riding on the wrong lane.
During the altercation, the motorcyclist raised the alarm and calling Mr Maxwell an armed robber, the witness said, adding that the noise got the attention of the passers-by.
According to Mr Tokbe, his nephew denied the armed robbery allegation and identified himself as a police officer to the crowd of passers-by, to no avail.
He was arrested and then taken to Denton Police Division, the witness said.
“I later went to Denton Police Division with a friend and officers from ABJ Railway station to secure Sergeant Maxwell’s bail. We discovered that Sergeant Maxwell has been transferred to SARS office in Ikeja.
“On getting to SARS office in Ikeja, my friend and I were denied access to Sergeant Maxwell. But his colleagues from ABJ Railway police station were allowed to see him,” Mr Tokbe added.
Mr Tokbe said the police officers from ABJ Railway police division told him afterwards that Mr Maxwell had been tortured and was not in a good condition. He added that all their appeals for his release on bail for treatment were rejected.
“We retired home that day to come back the next day as it was already getting late,” Mr. Tokbe said.
He said when they got to the SARS office the following day, they were told that Mr Maxwell was dead and that his body had been deposited at the mortuary in Yaba Mainland hospital.
He testified further that he was told that the case had been transferred to Panti police station for further investigation.
After asking to see Mr Maxwell’s body to confirm his identity, Mr Tokbe said he was taken to the mortuary at Yaba.
“We saw Sergeant Maxwell. All his body was bruised. One of his eyes was open and red. When we asked that the corpse be released for burial, the officers from Panti said Sergeant Maxwell was an armed robber and that the corpse would be buried by the government and not released to the family,” Mr Tokbe said.
At Panti police station, Mr Tokbe said he was asked to pay some amount of money for investigation and embalmment of the corpse. He said he told them if the government wanted to bury him, then they should do the embalmment.
He said since 2019, when the incident occurred, the corpse had not been released to the family.
Mr Maxwell’s sister, Maryam Maxwell, also testified on Thursday, confirming Mr Tokbe’s testimony.
While speaking Daniel Dashe, who is also the counsel for the complainant’s family, said Mr Maxwell left behind a wife and two children.
The lawyer tendered some documents, pictures and the identity card of Mr Maxwell and were all admitted as exhibits.
In the petitioner signed by Mr Dashe, the family alleged that Mr Maxwell’s body had been buried along with other unclaimed corpse.
The family demanded in their petition that all the officers involved in the alleged killing be fished out and brought to justice.
They also asked for compensation and apology.
SARS was proscribed in October 2019 following the nationwide #EndSARS protests against the rogue police unit and cases of police brutality in general.
#EndSARS panels were set up in 28 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in the aftermath of the protest to investigate the complaints of rights violation by the police, as well as recommend compensation for deserving victims and sanctions or prosecution for erring police officers
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