By Ozioruva Aliu
A middle-aged woman, Mrs Rita Okungbowa, yesterday, told the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of SARS and related abuses that 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.
She told the panel that her husband, a Benin movie director, Prince Osayande Okungbowa, was tagged a kidnapper and was taken away by men of SARS and that every effort to know where he was incarcerated has proven abortive.
Mrs Okungbowa told the panel that having waited till date, she was left with no option than to conclude that he might have been killed by SARS operatives.
She said: “On September 12, 2012, SARS operatives came to my house and picked my husband alleging that he is 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 went back; 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 prisons, they said the White House (that is the maximum prison at Sapele Road). We went there, we did not see him. We went back to the station, but they later referred us to Oko prison, 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 was in charge of the matter, they told us one Sergeant Esezobo was the Investigating 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 operatives where they kept my husband.”
The distraught woman pleaded with the panel to compel the SARS operatives to compensate her to enable her to give her children a better life.
“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?”