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Doubts over Justice as 16 SARS operatives indicted for killings in 5 states

Presidential panel has moved into action to punish indicted officers, but many are doubting that everything would soon go under the carpets.

But, the Police Service Commission has said it will punish any policemen indicted by the Presidential Panel on Reform of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

According to a statement on Friday by the Head, Press and Public Relations, PSC, Ikechukwu Ani, titled, ‘EndSARS protest: PSC calls for restraint, promised to deal with errant police officers,’ the commission expressed shock at the level of destruction of public facilities and businesses by miscreants.

The statement read, “The commission wishes to reiterate its commitment to hold police officers, whether of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad or conventional, accountable for their actions and inactions and will continue to ensure instant due punishments for misconducts.

Sixteen operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad have been indicted for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance in five states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The 16 operatives were recommended for prosecution by the Presidential Panel on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

The report was submitted to the President, Muhammadu Buhari , on June 3, 2019.

It was recently submitted to the Police Service Commission, the Inspector-General of Police and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation in the wake of the #EndSARS protests, for prosecution and disciplinary actions.

The report indicted a total of 35 police operatives in 12 states and the FCT for various rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, death in police custody, unlawful arrest, biased investigation, unlawful intimidation, harassment, criminal assault, torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment, threat to life, extortion and confiscation of property, among others.

Aside from the FCT, the 12 states where the indicted officers allegedly perpetrated the recorded rights violations are Akwa Ibom, Benue, Delta, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, and Rivers.

Analysis of the report by our correspondent showed that 16 of the 35 indicted officers were accused of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance in five states and the FCT.

The five states are, Lagos, Kaduna, Imo, Delta and Enugu.

Imo State, with seven officers indicted for extrajudicial killings, had the highest number of confirmed cases of violation of the right to life, followed by Abuja with five.

For Imo, those indicted for extrajudicial killings among other allegations, including unlawful arrest and detention, threats to life, are ASP Columbus Aniozor, Inspector Nwachukwu, Inspector Ndidi Nwaneri, Inspector Femi, CSP Godfrey Ogbeide Victor (OC SARS, Imo), ASP Banjoko (OC SARS, Akokowa, Imo State) and Corporal Echara Alice.

The five indicted for extrajudicial killings in Abuja are Inspector Augustine Nwobodo, Sgt Nuhu Shuaibu, Cpt Mohammed Tetengi, Inspector Dennis Matthew and ASP Felix Onuoha.

Aside from being accused of extrajudicial killings, the trio of Nwobodo, Shuaibu and Tentegi were also accused of refusal to release the corpses of the victims.

For Lagos, only Inspector Akeem Balogun was indicted for killing while two others, Inspector Ibukun Olusoga, and ASP Columbus, were indicted for enforced disappearance.

The rest of the states, Enugu, Delta and Kaduna each had one case of extrajudicial killings.

Sgt Paul Everest was indicted for alleged torture leading to death in custody in Enugu State.

ASP Muyiwa was indicted for unlawful arrest, detention and extrajudicial killing in Delta State.

In Kaduna State, Inspector Yakubu Baba was indicted for torture, violation of the right to life and dignity of the human person.

In addition to the confirmed cases of extrajudicial killing, the panel ordered further investigations into nine of such cases in Imo, Benue, Kwara, Kogi, Lagos and Rivers states.

The panel directed further investigation of “the circumstances leading to the death of Collins Okoronkwo Ezenwa and officers responsible for his death” in Imo State.

It also directed a coroner’s inquest into the death of Uchena Ugwueze in the state.

In Benue State, the panel directed for further investigation into the extrajudicial killings in two cases.

It, in one of the cases, ordered a probe “to reveal the identities of the police officers involved in the heinous killing of Agande Adi and Olowe Adi.

It also ordered “investigation of all the officers on operation on September 9, 2016 around Akpehe Area on Abu Shuluwa Road Makurdi, Benue State at about 7.30pm in line with extant police rules and regulations.”

“The investigation should identify the officers culpable for the death of the deceased and the roles played by senior police officers tasked with the duty of investigating the death,” the report added.

It also directed a coroner’s inquest into a death in Kwara State and Kogi State, a further investigation “to reveal the identities of the police officers involved in the heinous killing of Adamu Haruna.”

In Lagos, the panel ordered the investigation of a retired officer, Wilson Okanya, for the extrajudicial killing of Ogadi Enwerem.

In Rivers, the panel ordered an investigation into the “circumstances leading to the alleged extrajudicial killing of Mr Ajibade Ademisoye” and the death of Mr Bright Ogoloma.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said the state’s Ministry of Justice is trying 31 policemen for various offences ranging from murder, manslaughter, armed robbery to attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.

The governor disclosed this on his Twitter handle, @jidesanwoolu, on Friday, alongside a list of police officers being prosecuted for “offences related to the violation of human rights in Lagos.”

The list also captured the trial judges and the next adjourned dates of the cases.

Sanwo-Olu said the ongoing prosecution showed the government’s commitment to “ending police brutality.”

On the list are Inspector Surulere Irede, Sgt Sunday Ogunyemi and Corporal Hezekiah Babatunde, who are jointly standing trial for alleged manslaughter before Justice Ogunsanya; as well as Sgt Segun Okun and Cpt Adekunle Oluwarotimi, who are jointly standing trial for manslaughter and attempted murder before Justice Nicole Clay.

Others charged individually are Ogunyemi Olalekan (murder), Sgt Gbawuan Isaac (grievous bodily harm), Aminu Joseph (murder), Sgt Alechenu Benedict (armed robbery), Sgt Adebayo Abdullahi (involuntary manslaughter), Inspector Mohammed and two others (armed robbery), Matthew Chansi (murder), Adamu Dare (murder), Sgt Mark Argo and five others (conspiracy and armed robbery), and Corporal Pepple Boma (manslaughter).

Also on the list are Insp Emmanuel Akpodana (attempted murder), Emmanuel Uyankweke (involuntary manslaughter), Akanbi Lukmon (involuntary manslaughter), Edokhe Omokhije (murder), Afolabi Saka (murder), Monday Gabriel (murder), Yahya Adesina (involuntary manslaughter) and Aremu Musiliu (murder).

The Lagos State Attorney General, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), who released the list, said, “The Lagos State Ministry of Justice has been committed over time to the prosecution of the listed and related cases of police abuses. I call on members of the public to keep track of our ongoing diligent prosecution of these matters in the overall public interest.”

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