The police, on Tuesday, urged the #EndSARS panel in Abuja to award them N500 million as compensation over an alleged defamatory complaint submitted to the panel by a petitioner.
The lawyer defending the police, Umoh Una, said the petitioner, who accused the police of extra-judicial killing, tarnished the reputations of the Inspector General of Police and the Imo State Commissioner of Police joined as respondents in the petition.
The petitioner, Unonnaye Ogu, had accused the police of killing one Chibikem Peter in a shootout between the police and suspected members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) sometime in March 2004.
Mr Ogu had told the panel that Mr Peter, who was a trader, was on his way to Owerri, the Imo State capital, when the commercial car he boarded drove into the chaotic scene.
The petitioner, a relative of the deceased, had narrated, that drivers had to stop while all the passengers ran out of the vehicles in different directions for safety
‘Petitioner’s testimony a hearsay’
In his final address on the case on Tuesday, the police lawyer said the testimony of the petitioner was all hearsay, and so, was inadmissible.
“The hearsay testimony was not a repetition, but a position adopted by the petitioner as reality. Such evidence can never be admissible,” Mr Una said.
He added that throughout the testimony, there was no evidence that linked the victim to the respondents.
He urged the panel to dismiss the petition and demanded that the respondents be compensated.
“We demand that the panel award N500 million to the respondents as compensation for the unfounded allegations against them,” Mr Una said.
‘How police killed victim’
The petitioner had, during the previous hearing, testified that Mr Peter was caught in a crossfire during a shootout between the police and MASSOB members about 19 years ago.
He said Mr Peter was hit by a stray bullet and was heard screaming for help from the police.
He said the police officers, who appeared to have rushed to the scene to rescue him, was later seen shooting him in the chest.
Mr Ogu told the panel that some witnesses, who saw what transpired, traced the parents of the deceased to their town and informed the incident.
He said the deceased person’s father, Emeka Nkaru, followed the informants to the scene of the son’s death and visited several police stations in search of the corpse.
The corpse, according to the petitioner, was later located at the mortuary of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri.
Mr Ogu said he immediately requested the release of the body but was denied.
He said all efforts to retrieve the corpse proved abortive, and Mr Nkaru, the deceased father, died later “out of frustration and shock”.
Panel adjourns for report
The panel chaired by Garba Tetengi in the absence of the chairman, Suleiman Galadima, adjourned the case for panel’s report.
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