By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Benue State Police Command has informed the ongoing Coroner’s Inquest into the gruesome murder of a tax official of the Benue Internal Revenue Service, BIRS, Mr. Sixtus Akure by yet to be identified army personnel that the 72 Special Forces Battalion of the Nigeria army in Makurdi has refused to cooperate with its investigation.
Vanguard recalls that the inquest was ordered after the lifeless body of Mr. Akure, was found by the roadside near the Aper Aku Estate a day after he was said to have been abducted from his duty post on Saturday, January 16, 2022, and whisked away by persons suspected to be men of the Nigerian Army attached to the 72 Special Forces Battalion in Makurdi.
At the hearing held at the Chief Magistrate Court 1 and presided over by Mr. Vincent Kor, lead Counsel to the BIRS, Mr. Mike Utsaha led the Police, an official witness, in evidence.
Representative of the Benue State Police Commissioner, Sgt. Godwin Nyajo attached to the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Homicide Section, in his evidence told the inquest that despite official communication, the army had failed to avail the police information to aid its investigation.
Sgt. Nyajo in his account said: “On January 19, 2022, at about 4pm a case of criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide was transferred from ‘C’ Division of the State Police Command in the North Bank area of Makurdi to the State Criminal Investigation Department, CID.”
“It stated that on January 16, 2022, at about 3pm they recorded a report that on January 15 at about 11:20pm a team of army personnel came with an army patrol Hilux van with an inscription on it reading, 72 Battalion, and attacked the BIRS staff attached to one checkpoint in North Bank and picked away one Sixtus Terfa Akure to unknown destination.”
“And that the following morning the dead body of the said Sixtus was found close to Ape Aku Housing Estate. As soon as the case was accepted and referred to my team for investigation, we recorded statements from witnesses.”
“We also visited the scene of the crime and recovered some logs of wood which was being used by BIRS staff as barricades. The logs were found close to the gate of the 72 Special Forces Battalion North Bank, and we treat same as exhibit.
“We then proceeded to the General Hospital where the corpse of Sixtus was deposited and photographed it. Already the Divisional Investigating Police Officer, had filled the coroner form and submitted it to the hospital.”
“We then wrote a correspondence to the Commander of 72 Special Forces Battalion requesting him to avail us his officers that were on duty on that particular day of the incident.
“He acknowledged receipt of the correspondence and promised to avail us the officers in question; but since them he has not produced them.”
Sgt, Nyajo tendered before the Coroner some exhibits including; pictures of the remains of the deceased, the recovered logs of wood, request from the police for a postmortem, a copy of the Postmortem Examination Result, a copy of the warrant issued the family of the deceased to bury him, an acknowledged copy of the letter written to the Commander 72 Special Forces Battalion.