December 6, 2020

NHRC Probe Unit orders Police to produce killer-officer of 5 in Delta


By Tordue Salem, Abuja

The Independent Investigative Panel on human rights violations by defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigerian Police on Thursday, ordered the Police to produce the medical records and post mortem report of one Ovoko Godwin Onomrerhino who was allegedly killed by the Police in 2019.

The Investigative panel chaired by Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd) directed the Investigative Police Officer (IPO), Kambari Tambari to ensure that the said medical records from the Hospital in Delta state (where Ovoko, now deceased was taken for medical treatment before his death) are brought before the panel.

The Police told the panel that Ovoko who was handcuffed jumped off a moving Police vehicle that was conveying him to Abraka Divisional Police Station.

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The retired Supreme Court Judge also ordered the four (4) Police Officers who were in the same vehicle with Ovoko on July 3, 2020, the same day he allegedly jumped off the vehicle to be present on the adjourned date of January 28, 2021, for the continuation of hearing.

The complainant Mr Godwin Onomrerhino who is also the father of the deceased told the panel that his occupation is farming. He testified that he received a telephone call from his son’s landlord informing him that Police Officers have arrested his son.

It was at this point, he stated that he visited Abraka Divisional Police station where he was arrested and detained for two days by the Police after calling him “father of armed robber”.

He informed the panel that he was eventually released from Police detention following a petition written by his family members to the AIG Zone 5, Benin Edo State.

The complainant who told the panel that his deceased son left behind five (5) children, recalled that it was when the Police released him from their custody that they told him for the first time that his son, Ovoko is dead and his corpse was deposited at Medisaj morgue Obiaruko in Delta state.

Asked on what he wants the panel to do for him in this circumstance, he said he is demanding N100m compensation from all the respondents including the CSP Hassan Isah (DPO Abraka Police Station), Mr. Odiri Emeni (Igun Vigilantee) in Ethiope East LGA Delta state, Commissioner of Police Delta State and Inspector General of Police.

He also prayed the panel to order that the respondents including CSP Hassan Isah and his men or anyone involved in the death of his son be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

The complainant earlier informed the panel that Ovoko (the deceased) was a pipeline welder and that he was never involved in any form of armed robbery (a crime he was accused of) along Abraka-Igun road as claimed by Abraka Divisional Police station.

On the other hand, CSP Hassan Isah informed the panel that the Igu Vigilante group arrested Ovoko with the help of a Police team he (the DPO) directed to assist the Vigilante in the said arrest.

According to him, he got a phone call from Mr. Odiri Emeni, leader of the Vigilante informing him of an armed robbery incident in Igun community and that one of the suspects was identified by some of the victims of the said robbery case.

The DCP stated that his men succeeded in arresting one of the suspects, Ode Godspower whom he noted was immediately identified by some of the robbery victims who according to him were already waiting at Abraka Divisional Police station when the Police team arrived with the suspect.

He also told the panel that in the course of the investigation, the suspect, Godspower, made some confessional statements in which he mentions four other suspects including Ovoko, whom the complainant alleged was extra-judicially executed by the Police.

It was through the hint provided by Godspower, the DCP noted that guided the Police to fish out Ovoko in a remote village where he was hiding.

He said that when he was arrested and brought to the Police station, he made confessional statements and disclosed that his gang has two (2) cartridges and three (3) cut-to-size short guns hidden inside the bush with which they used during robbery operations.

He said it was on account of this revelation that his men swung into action again and Ovoko led the Police team including IPO Tambari to the spot where the said ammunitions were buried and they were recovered.

Both the DPO and the IPO stated during their cross-examination that while Ovoko (the deceased) was returning back to the Police station having recovered the guns owned by the suspects, he jumped off the vehicle in handcuffs and ran away before he was rearrested by the Police.

According to the duo, Ovoko sustained injuries on his arms and legs which informed the decision of the DPO to give the sum of N5, 000 to the IPO who was accompanied by some other Officers to Abraka General Hospital for treatment before the suspect allegedly died.

The DPO told the panel that the General Hospital in Abraka does not have a functional mortuary, being the reason Ovoko’s corpse was deposited to a private morgue, as earlier stated.

In addition, the DPO informed the panel that Police invited one of their Doctors from Abuja who did an autopsy on the body of the deceased and a copy of the autopsy report was admitted by the panel.

The case was adjourned to January 28, 2021, for further hearing.