Says she was shot below her breast
Demands justice from investigative panel
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
It was a harvest of tears at the resumed hearing of the Independent Investigative Panel on human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, and other units of the Nigeria Police Force, on Thursday, as a witness, Miss Chinenye Igwetu, narrated how her younger sister was murdered by an Inspector of Police, a day to her passing out from the National Youth Service.
Testifying before the 11-man panel headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima, the witness, said her deceased sister, Miss Linda Angela Igwetu, was shot below her breast on July 3, 2018, by one Inspector Benjamin Peters of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Police Command, Area 11, Abuja.
The late Miss Igwetu who was 23 years old, was said to had gone out after work with some of her colleagues to celebrate her passing out from NYSC the next day when she met her death.
According to her sister, “On the 3rd of July 2018, the deceased went out after work to celebrate her passing out from the National Youth Service which was supposed to be the next day (4th July 2018).
“Prior to her death, she was living with me and worked at Outsource Global Company, Mabushi. Her working hours were between 1 pm and ends at 11 pm every day.
“She sent me a WhatsApp message informing me she was going out to have drinks and also celebrate with friends at Ceddi Plaza, Abuja, on the 3rd of July at exactly 10:22 pm.
“She informed me she was out with her colleagues, Mr Tobi Bamidele and Mr Arafat, all of Outsource Global Company Mabushi.
“I waited for her to get back and slept off after a while. I woke up at about 2 am and was surprised to she wasn’t home yet. She has her own keys and let herself into the house anytime she is back from work and I am asleep.
“I tried to reach her to no avail and I didn’t have the number of the colleagues she was with at the time.
“At about 4:35 am, I got a distress call from one unknown number and it was Mr Bamidele Tobi asking me to come quickly to Garki Hospital that something happened on their home from Ceddi Plaza.
“I got to the hospital and was informed that my sister was shot by Inspector Benjamin Peters.
“Mr Tobi narrated that on their way home while driving, he heard a loud sound and thinking it was his tyres and next thing my late sister tapped him from the seat that something hit her below her breast.
“They looked back and found my sister panting in a pool of her blood and that when they realised the sound they heard was a stray bullet.
“On their way to Garki Hospital, the police accosted and followed them down the hospital and it was there that it was revealed that it was one of their colleagues (Inspector Benjamin Peters) that shot at the moving vehicle; a clear case of a triggered happy man.
“My sister passed at about 6:00 am after she was left in a pool of her blood without the necessary first aid because Garki Hospital was asking for a police report which was unavailable at the time”.
Midway into her testimony, the witness was overtaken by emotion as she wept uncontrollably, as a torrent of tears raced down her cheeks.
“It has not been easy, especially for my parents who are still alive. I know that nothing can equate for human life, but I want justice to be done. I want my family to be compensated. I want my mother to smile again because she has passed through a lot.
“I want justice for my sister, she had so many dreams”, Miss Igwetu sobbed, as some participants at the public joined in.
She said the Police Inspector had when he was questioned at the hospital, claimed that he sprayed the car with bullets, after the deceased and her friends failed to stop when they were flagged down.
The witness told the panel that though the then-Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, called her on phone shortly after the incident and also constituted an investigative panel, nothing came out of the process.
“The incident went viral on social media and I was invited by Senator Saraki who promised us justice for my family. A four-man investigative panel was set up by Saraki and compromised of four sitting Senators at that time.
“Absolutely nothing came out of this. We were informed that Inspector Benjamin Peters was at Kuje prisons and was dismissed and was going to be arraigned in court, all to no avail.
“We kept going back and forth with the Police and Garki Hospital for necessary justice to be meted to the violators, but nothing happened.
“My mother is distraught, my Dad heartbroken and we cry for justice every day.
“I want to urge the Commission to help us get the Justice we seek desperately,” she pleaded.
Meanwhile, the Justice Galadima-led panel ordered that record of the proceeding should be typed and served on all the Respondents, who were all absent.
Listed as respondents in the petition are the alleged culprit, Inspector Peters, the Commissioner of Police FCT Command, FCT Police and the Inspector General of Police.
The panel adjourned further hearing on the matter till November 16.
Remarkably, since Wednesday when the panel which was constituted under the auspices of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, commenced hearing of petitions, Police have failed to make any appearance before it.