The #EndSARS panel investigating cases of police brutality in Abuja, on Monday, summoned a superintendent of police over an alleged enforced disappearance of a suspect arrested in 2019.
The panel ordered Chinedu Okonkwo, a member of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT), to appear to provide information about the suspect’s whereabout.
It issued the order after an assistant superintendent of police, Paul Odey, testified on Monday.
Mr Odey said he could not provide information on the victim’s whereabouts as he got instruction from Mr Okonkwo to hand over the case to another police officer whom he said died last year.
The panel summoned Mr Okonkwo to appear to appear to testify about his role in the case.
A sister of the victim, Ebuka Aniegu, who petitioned the panel, had said IRT operatives arrested his brother on May 10, 2019.
Testifying on March 8, 2022, the petitioner had told the #EndSARS panel that her brother was about moving abroad when he was “unlawfully” arrested by the police in Abuja in May 2019.
She claimed Mr Odey requested N1 million to release her brother.
“I informed him I didn’t have such money,” she said.
Despite all efforts and engaging a lawyer, Ms Aniegu said, Mr Odey refused to release his brother.
She is asking for N500 million compensation.
Police officer denies allegation
But testifying at the panel on Monday, Mr Odey, denied any wrongdoing in his involvement in the case up to the time he handed it over to another police officer. He also denied asking for N1 million from the petitioner to release her brother.
Mr Odey told the panel that the victim was arrested in connection to a case of armed robbery and rape reported to his office on May 20, 2019.
He said report was brought to the IRT by the divisional police office (DPO) of Trademore Police Station, Lugbe, after receiving a complaint from Peter Ogunmola and nine others.
“The DPO recovered the phone of one of the gang members alleged to have carried out the operation and referred the case to my office,” Mr Odey said.
Further investigations, he said, led to the arrest of Tochukwu Otu, said to be the owner of the recovered phone.
He said the suspect, during interrogation, confessed to the allegations and mentioned other gang members including Ebuka Aniegu, the victim whom the petition before the panel was about.
According to him, four gang members were arrested.
He said he later received instruction from Abba Kyari, then commander of IRT, through Chinedu Okonkwo, ( who was on Monday summoned by the panel), to hand over the case to John Onyenma, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP).
He said Mr Onyenma died last year.
Fielding questions from members of the panel under cross-examination, Mr Odey said the transfer of the case to Mr Onyenma was recorded in the station’s diary of action.
He also tendered documents to back his claim.
Panel’s cross examination
Before adjourning the matter, Garba Tetengi, who acted as the chairperson of the panel on Monday, ordered that the death certificate of Mr Onyenma be provided before the panel.
The panel also asked the police counsel to find out who the case was transferred to.
The panel then ordered that Mr Okonkwo appear before the panel at the next adjourned date.
The case was adjourned till March 24 for continuation of defence by the police.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To place an advert here . Call Willie - +2348098788999