December 17, 2020

EndSARS: NHRC pressures Police to release complainant detained for 12 months


…As one dies in custody

By Tordue Salem, Abuja

Following an order of the Independent Investigative Panel on human rights violations by defunct SARS and other units of Nigerian Police, the Police on Thursday produced Raphel Tersoo Toona, who has been in detention for over one year.

Prior to Raphel’s production before the panel by the police, his counsel, Mike Utsaha had expressed fears about the condition of his client and had therefore pleaded with the panel to compel the police to produce him as earlier ordered by the panel on December 14, 2020.

Before the production order was obeyed by the police, the panel chaired by Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd) had to stand down proceedings in the matter insisting that the police must carry out the panel’s order of producing Raheal.

When the panel reconvened, police liaison officer to the panel, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Cosmas Anyanwu who promised to produce Raphel did the needful and presented the complainant (Raphel) before the panel.

The chairman of the panel commended the ACP for keeping to his promise and urged the police to cooperate with the panel to arrive at justice in all the cases.

Also read: Edo EndSARS panel summons 2 police chiefs to explain roles in extortion, assault of woman

The police had also told the panel that Moses Mfe (2nd complainant) whom it claimed was also an armed robbery suspect like Raphel died at University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, where he was admitted for treatment.

Counsel to the Nigerian Police, Fidelis Ogwobe revealed for the first time the death of Moses Mfe (2nd complainant) whom he noted was arrested together with Raphel (1st complainant) in Benue state as armed robbery suspects.

According to him, in the course of investigations into the allegations of armed robbery against the Moses and Raphel, the former fell sick and was taken to Police Hospital, Garki for treatment.

He got better and was discharged on November 19, 2020, and was taken back to police custody in Abuja, the police counsel added. The Police defence lawyer, however, stated that Moses later fell sick again and the police took him to University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada where he allegedly died.
However, he informed the panel that autopsy was ordered by the police on the deceased body and that the result of the autopsy is yet to be released to the police to ascertain the cause of his death.

As a follow-up, Ogwobe stated that the Police instructed Seargent Godfred Odoh to visit the UATH, Gwagwalada to confirm whether the autopsy result is ready

On the whereabouts of Raphel (1st complainant), as requested by the panel, the police counsel said that he was remanded in Suleja Correctional Service by an order of a magistrate court.

Earlier before Raphael was brought to the panel, his counsel, Mike Utsaha had pleaded with the panel to ensure that its earlier order on December 14, 2020, to produce his client is obeyed by the police.

According to him, the panel had on the said date ordered the police to produce the two complainants (Moses and Raphel) today (December 17, 2020) before proceeding further to unravel why they have been kept in detention for over one year.

Alternatively, the complainants’ counsel had prayed the panel for an order directing the police to release Raphel on administrative bail pending when the panel will resume in January 2021, pointing out that today is the last sitting for this year.

He stated that Raphel has not been charged with armed robbery before any court in Nigeria and therefore ought to have been released by the police conditionally or unconditionally.

The Chairman of the panel had affirmed the order for production of the suspect made on December 14, 2020, and directed the police liaison officer to the panel, Cosmas Anyanwu to produce the surviving complainant, Raphel since Moses is dead as announced by the police.

The panel ordered that Rapeal be taken to a court of competent jurisdiction on or before 23rd of March 2020 for immediate bail to be confirmed considering the fact that he has been in prolonged detention.

The matter was adjourned to March 2, 2021, for the continuation of hearing.

Vanguard News Nigeria