By Ozioruva Aliu
A middle-aged woman, Mrs Rita Okungbowa, Monday cried to the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of SARS and related abuses saying she has not seen her husband for the past eight years after he was arrested by men of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, (SARS) and she is asking for a compensation of N20m.
She told the panel that her husband, a Benin movie director, Prince Osayande Okungbowa, was tagged a kidnapper and was taken away by the men of SARS and that every effort made to know where her husband was being kept has proven abortive.
Mrs Okungbowa told the panel that having waited till date, she was left with no option than to conclude that he may have been killed by the men of the disbanded SARS.
She said “On the 12th September 2012, the SARS came to my own house and picked my husband, they alleged him to be a kidnapper.
“My mother-in-law and I went to the State Criminal Investigation Department, and immediately I mentioned the name of my husband, they drove us away. They did not allow us to see him.
“The next day, we also came, they did not allow us to also see him.
“So, one of the police officers then told us that they have taken him to the court and thereafter, to the prison.
“So, I asked which of the prison, they said the ‘white house’ (that is the maximum Correctional Centre at Sapele road), we went there, we did not see him, we went back to the station, but they later referred us to Oko Correctional Centre, and we did not also see him there.
“So, I decided to take a lawyer, and when we got to the station, the OC then asked, who is in charge of the matter, they told us one Sergeant Esezobo was the Inspection Police Officer, IPO.
“When we asked for the Esezobo, they said he had gone to the canteen and we went to the canteen and immediately he saw us, he ran away.
“So I have been going to the police station to search for him (my husband) and I have not set my eyes on him for the past eight years and because of that, I decided to approach the panel so that they can help me ask the disbanded SARS where they kept my husband.
The distraught woman pleaded with the panel to compel the SARS to compensate her to enable her to give her children a better life.
“In fact, even house rent, I can’t pay. I sleep in the church, Celestial Church of Christ, that is where I normally stay because there is no money to rent a house. I don’t have anything to do, I go out to wash people’s clothes just to survive, is that not painful?