…Five SARS operatives detained, as mother of slain student cries out
By Tony Edike
Enugu – DISTURBED by theÂ increasing cases of extra- judicial killings by policemen across the country, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo has ordered discreet investigations into the activities of officers involved in such dastardly act with a view to nipping in the bud, such senseless killing of Nigerians suspected to have committed crimes without trial.
The IGP, sources said, had recently expressed concern over the petitions flooding his office from different parts of the country regarding the extra-judicial killing of persons in police custody or during attempts to arrest suspects and vowed to put a stop to the unlawful act which has attracted serious negative image for the country.
It was gathered that Onovo had already ordered a high level investigation into some of the petitions on related matters before his office and the exercise which is being handled by the Inspector General Special Investigation Unit headed by Commissioner of Police CP Ali Amodu, has led to the arrest of some fingered police officers with a view to determining their level of involvement.
Five of the affected police officers including an Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS of the Enugu State Police Command, were accused of cold-blooded murder of a 27- year-old undergraduate, Chukwuma Michael Ulor in Enugu last year.
The arrest of the policemen followed a petition from the mother of the suspect, Mrs. Olanma Ulor to the IGP dated October 23, 2009 in which she complained bitterly over the alleged cold-blooded murder of his son who was arrested by operatives of SARS while on an errand to Owerri on May 29, 2009.
According to the petition, a copy of which was made available to Crime Guard, Mrs. Ulor narrated that her son was reportedly arrested at Owerri and detained at SARS office Enugu where he was killed.
I went to SARS office on 7th June 2009 at about 1400hrs and inquired from the SARS men on duty and gave them my son’s name.Â Â Â They went to cell and brought my son out limping.Â I inquired from him on why he was arrested, he told me that when he got to Owerri, he heard some sound like gunshot and he saw everybody around him running.Â Â Â He joined but was arrested and brought to a police station and later to SARS Enugu where he was told that he has a case of robbery.Â While on interrogation at SARS office, he was shot on the leg in the presence of the O/C (Officer in-Charge).
After hearing from him, I went to the officer in-charge of SARS and told him that I sent my son to Owerri on an errand. I went further to tell him that my son is 27 years and an undergraduate who has never been involved in any criminal case.Â The DSP got annoyed and drove me out of his office.Â He threatened to shoot me and tagged me a robber.Ã¶
Continuing, she said, on June 8, 2009, she contacted a female lawyer who went to SARS office the next day and saw Chukwuma (her deceased son) who told her that he needed some food and drugs to treat the gunshot wound on his leg, adding that on June 14 she gave the food and drugs to a policeman identified as Sunday to deliver to her son but the men on duty refused.
I took the food by myself and after I bargained and paid the IPO (Investigating Police Officer) N20,000 he allowed me to see my son and delivered the food and medicine. I requested from the IPO to give the date they will arraign my son in court.Â Â He told me to come the next day but that If I can provide N500,000 he would use to approach the DSP to release my son because there is nobody that identified him to have robbed him.Ã¶
She said that she bargained with the IPO who later agreed to accept N200,000 which she provided the next but the IPO asked her to give him two days within which he would write his final report on the matter.
When I came on the date agreed, I did not see the IPO but the men on duty told me that my son has been remanded in Enugu Prison.Â I immediately went to the prison to find out but was told that my son was not in the prison.Â I came back to SARS, met one DSP while weeping, I begged him to show me my son.Â Â Â He insulted me and called armed men to push me out of SARS compound.Â They pushed me out and shot in the air to further scare me.Â Â When they were pushing me out, one of the men shouted: ” Madam your son don travel to Abuja”.
Mrs. Ulor said she had been sending her relations to Abuja to trace her son to no avail, adding that a policeman laterinformed her that Ã´travel to AbujaÃ¶ means that Ã´my son has been extra-judicially killed by SARS men.
According to her, when she visited the SARS office on October 27, 2009, the IPO told her that the DSP refused to release Chukwuma who was killed on the instruction of the officer.Â Ã´I started weeping but the IPO advised me not to protest because the DSP is loved by the IGP and the Governor of Enugu State because he kills suspected robbers,Ã¶ she said.
The petitioner who pleaded with Onovo to investigate the extra-judicial killing of her son which occurred during the tenure of former IGP Mike Okiro, however, made four pleas to the police boss thus: “I want to know the whereabouts of my son; if he has been killed, who killed him and where is his corpse; the arrest and prosecution of those who killed my son; and payment of N100 million compensation by the Nigeria Police as damages.”
OTHER RELATED CASES
Sources said apart from Mrs. UlorÃ†s petition, several other petitions regarding alleged cases of extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals by operatives of SARS in Enugu State were also being looked into by the Force Headquarters following complaints from relations of the victims.
One of such cases, as learnt, is the killing of a dismissed Police Constable Mr. Kenneth Chukwu from Ebonyi State who was accused of taking part in the kidnap of Dr. Francis Edemobi, an Enugu-based medical practitioner and younger brother of the immediate past Minister of Information and Communication, Dora Akunyili.
Chukwu, who was said to have been named by suspects standing trial in the kidnap case, was reportedly sighted at Asaba and arrested by SARS operatives but was allegedly shot dead in their Enugu office few days later.Â Â Â News of the suspects arrest had earlier being hailed by relations of some of the suspects who are being tried over Edemobi’s abduction in December 2008 including the Enugu based oil magnate, Chief Ignatius Nnubia, who have remained in prison custody since January 2009.
Their relations had expected that the suspect (Chukwu) who was viewed as one of the principal suspects would have given true evidence regarding those who actually participated in the kidnap of Akunyili’s brother since other key suspects arrested earlier were killed without trial.
The trial of eight suspects in the case which has lasted for over one year had been handled by, at least, eight courts but no progress was made before the present trial judge took over the matter late last year.Â Ironically, Ali Mohammed, who was the number one accused person in the case was removed from the list of accused persons by the Enugu State Government and has remained at the Government House, Enugu since mid last year after he was discharged from National Orthopedic Hospital, Enugu where he was treated for gunshot wounds sustained on the day policemen rescued Edemobi from his captors.
The State Government had told the trial court that it intended to use Mohammed as a witness in the case and therefore decided to keep him away from other suspects since the past one year pending the time he would be required in court.