By Tordue Salem, Abuja
An Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of IGP-IRT “D” Division Itam, Uyo, David Ahmed Agbo on Monday told the Independent Investigative Panel on allegations of human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) set up by the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, that one Edward Dumsara Leera whose brother, Confidence Leera, claimed was being held in police custody since November 1, 2019, is dead.
ASP Agbo who made this disclosure when the Chairman of the panel inquired the whereabouts of the victim (assumed to be in their custody) also added that his body was deposited at the University of PortHacourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) mortuary in Rivers state.
Wife of the deceased, Peace Leera cried profusely immediately the ASP Agbo broke the news of the death of Edward Leera.
Earlier, Counsel to the complainant, Victor Giwa while adopting his written affidavit containing series of exhibits, including a copy of the petition and court order directing the production of the victim before the court, regretted that “the Police never obeyed the order of the court till date.
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Continuing, he also told the panel that ASP Agbo seized ATM card belonging to the victim with which various amounts of money were withdrawn from his bank account by agents of the Ahmed Agbo”.
The complainant through his Counsel tendered documents allegedly evidencing the transfer of N20,000 to ASP Agbo, as well as those evidencing the various withdrawals from the bank account of the victim.
In his response, Agbo, Gabriel Uron Okpeta informed the panel that he just filed a counter-affidavit “This morning” as the defence of the aforesaid respondents while the panel was already sitting.
Recall that on November 16, 2020, the complainant, Confidence Leera, led in evidence by his lawyer, Giwa Victor, told the panel that Edward was arrested by the police and detained for no just cause, and his car confiscated and converted to personal use by a policeman, identified as the IPO, ASP David Ahmed Agbo.
Confidence claimed that ASP Agbo now drives the car unlawfully seized from his brother.
He alleged the policeman made cash withdrawals from his brother’s bank account between November 2019 to October 2020 using his ATM card.
Confidence informed the panel that his family was asked by the police to pay N3m before Edward could be released.
He added he later instituted a suit, marked: BHC/202/2019 for the enforcement of his fundamental rights, adding “subsequently, on December 17, 2019, the court-ordered the hearing of the application of Edward Dumisara Leera and delivered judgment in his favour and ordered the immediate release of the said Edward.”
He added “that the order was served on the police, but they allegedly refused to obey it, and that, instead of complying with the court’s judgment of December 2019, the police filed a seven-count charge against Edward before Justice E.N. Ogbuji in suit No. PHC/287/CR/2020”.
Confidence said the police has neither produced Edward in court nor released him in accordance with the earlier court order.
He told the panel that it seems Edward had been killed extra-judicially and disposed of.
The 28-year-old wife of the deceased told newsmen that she was barely one year in marriage and that her late husband never saw her pregnancy or their baby till now only for her to be told that her husband has died.
She alleged that ASP Agbo asked her to abort her pregnancy while she was going to plead for the release of her husband.
According to her, ASP Agbo bragged that she will not see her husband again, having not paid N3m he was demanding for in order to release her husband.
She added that she could not “believe the death of her husband and that the panel should ensure ASP Agbo is arrested and prosecuted so that he will divulge the whereabouts of her husband who she said was a taxi driver and welder as against being an armed robber as ASP Agbo labelled him during a press interview in the premises of the National Human Rights Commission”.
The case was adjourned to January 11, 2020, for cross-examination and defence by the police.