By Tordue Salem – Abuja
A lawyer and petitioner at the Independent Investigative Panel on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Daniel Dashe on Friday told the panel how three police officers at Denton police Division, Lagos state allegedly detained their colleague, Maxwell Dul Kate on trumped-up charges, and tortured him to death in 2019.
Daniel said that” it is only the police that can fish out the DPO Denton police division, Lagos, OC defunct SARS Lagos state and 2 I.C. defunct SARS Lagos, to provide the necessary information to the panel saying it was under their jurisdiction that the late Maxwell died under mysterious circumstances”.
The legal practitioner told the 11-Member panel chaired by Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd), that he undertook to handle the matter on pro bono, because the family of the deceased could not afford the services of a lawyer.
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He stated that from a personal investigation he carried out in Lagos state where the incident occurred, he “found that the late Maxwell closed from duty on a particular date and that on his way home he had an altercation with a motorcyclist and in the process, the motorbike rider called him an armed robber”.
It was the name, armed robber, according to the petitioner, that attracted crowds who insisted that Maxwell should be taken to a nearby police station for proper identification since his attempt to prove his identity by flagging his ID card was ignored by the mobs.
On getting to Denton police station, the petitioner said that Maxwell was “surprisingly detained” by his colleagues despite his identity card that was handy for them to ascertain if he was actually police personnel or not.
He said, “Information about the arrest and detention of Maxwell later got to Railway police station, Yaba where Maxwell was serving before his ordeal and some of his colleagues came to bail him but officers at Denton police station allegedly refused and forwarded the matter as an armed robbery case to SARS”.
At SARS office, he said that policemen who came to secure bail for the detained Maxwell were allegedly “requested to pay N100,000 for bail which they declined”.
Continuing, he narrated that the whole process coincided with the weekend of the 2019 Presidential Election which was on a Saturday, and subsequently, on Wednesday of the following week, Maxwell allegedly died.
He said that the Police “have refused to officially disclose the death of the officer to his family members and that the Force did not carry out any inquiry into the death of Maxwell”.
The complainant also alleged that “the deceased body was deposited at Mainland Hospital Mortuary and subsequently buried in a mass grave”.
He, therefore, on behalf of the deceased family prayed the panel to order N100 million compensation for the said family and a public apology from the police. In addition, he pleaded with the panel to order that the affected police officers be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
On cross-examination, police asked the petitioner to confirm if all he told the panel was hearsay since he was not at the scene of the said incident that allegedly led to Maxwell’s death. Kenneth Egbuchua Esq. who handled the matter on behalf of the police also said that the photograph shows the victim which was admitted as an exhibit before the panel does not look like that of a police officer.
Instead, he claimed that it is a photograph of a civilian carrying an AK-47 and that the victim might not be a policeman after all.
In his response, the petitioner who is also counsel to the deceased family gave answers to the above issues raised by the police saying that he first of all confirmed from the family of Maxwell who proved to him that he was a serving police officer before his eventual death in police custody.