The #EndSARS panel investigating cases of police brutality in Abuja has summoned a police inspector over the alleged death in custody of an 83-year-old man.
The panel ordered the police officer identified as ‘Inspector Sunday’, a member of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), to appear in respect of the case of Samuel Adagbor.
In the order issued on Friday, the #EndSARS panel asked the police officer to appear to provide information and relevant documents to shed more light on Mr Adagbor’s arrest, detention and subsequent death.
Earlier on Wednesday, the petitioner and daughter of the deceased, Angela Benjamin, told the panel that the octogenarian and his wife were arrested by the police sometime in August 2019 at their family house in Agbor, Delta State.
They were arrested, she said, on the allegation that they were running a “baby factory”. The family denied the allegation in the petition submitted to the panel.
While the wife, whose arrest was said to have come on the heels of her giving birth to a baby through the caesarean section, was released after one week in custody, her husband was moved to SARS detention facility in Abuja, Mrs Benjamin said.
Mrs Benjamin said the police extorted the family, taking advantage of their desperation to get the father released.
“The police asked for N2 million which my father’s wife paid in instalments. They demanded another N4 million and we had to put my father’s house in the village up for sale. But nobody bought it for fear of being afflicted with the same predicament,” she said.
She said the N2million raised by the family was paid to Inspector Sunday who had promised to use it “to settle other officers” for the release of the old man.
She said despite the payment, members of the family frequented the SARS detention centre in Abbatoir, Abuja, but were not allowed to see him.
“We visited him, but we weren’t allowed to see him and when we called our calls were avoided,” Mrs Benjamin said.
The family, according to the petitioner, would later receive the news seven months after the octogenarian’s arrest that he had died in custody. The time the family got the news, came down to March 2020, which is about seven months from the time of the man’s arrest in August 2019.
Mrs Benjamin told the panel that the police did not inform the family of Mr Adagbor’s death until four months after he passed on.
“When we heard, we went to the detention centre to make enquiries, but got no response until after four months,” she said.
She added that when they asked to see the body, they were told he died at Gwagwalada hospital in Abuja. But she said they could not find his record at the hospital.
She said the family wrote a letter in 2019 to the Inspector-General of Police-Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT) for the release of the body, but got no positive response.
Mrs Benjamin, who broke down in tears narrating the ordeals the family faced over the matter, told the panel that her brother, Peace Adagbor, slumped and died while running around for the release of their father.
“My brother died and left his wife and children who are now in abject poverty. The children are out of school, the house rent is long due and I don’t know what to do,” Mrs Benjamin said while sobbing.
She added that the family had not been able to bury her brother because their father had not been buried.
Fielding questions from the panel, Mrs Benjamin said she did not know Inspector Sunday’s full name, but provided his phone number.
When asked why they had written to IGP-IRT instead of SARS that she claimed arrested her father in the first place, she said the letter was written by her late brother.
She also said, while responding to a question, that they wanted N100 million as compensation for the family, especially for the education of the children who have been out of school.
The panel, after listening to her testimony, directed the police to produce Inspector Sunday to unravel the case.
The police asked to defer their cross-examination of Mrs Benjamin till when they are able to get Inspector Sunday.
The panel, chaired by Garba Tetengi, who is acting in the absence of the substantive chairman, Suleiman Galadima, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, ordered the police to produce Inspector Sunday at its next sitting on the case.
“The panel thereby order for the appearance of Inspector Sunday at the next adjourned date,” Mr Tetengi ruled.
Another member of the panel, John Aikpokpo-Martins, advised that a copy of the petition should be attached to the summons to enable Inspector Sunday and the police to prepare for their defence ahead of the next sitting on the case.
The panel adjourned the case till March 29 for cross-examination of the petitioner and defence by the police.
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