The last time I saw my son was 2011, victim of police brutality tells Edo judicial panel.
Testifying before the panel in a soul wrecking voice, an officer of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Isaac Edoh, said he doesn’t know if his son, Baba, an undergraduate of English Literature at the Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto State, was dead or alive.
Edoh was among the two of the 27 victims who submitted petitions at the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of human rights abuses by operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). He testified bedore the panel on Thursday in Benin, the state capital.
Edoh, an indigene of Benue State, said he received a call on June 2011 from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that his son was arrested on the Benin-Auchi Road for alleged kidnapping.
Edoh said he left office immediately in Lagos, rushed to Benin and found his son lying in a pool of blood and that was the last time he saw his son.
He said: “I tried speaking with him but the officers prevented me, despite knowing he was my son. The next day, I visited the police station but discovered that my son’s name was not in the record of their detainees.
“I immediately contacted the officer in charge of kidnapping, who said my son was not in their custody. I was told he was one of the suspects paraded on national television on June 4, 2011.
He was also told that robbers struck and shot my son while the police were conducting investigation in Auchi, Edo North, but none of the officers were injured. The only person they claimed died was my son. Since his acclaimed death, the police have refused to release his body.
“I later filed a suit at the High Court in Benin for the abuse of my son’s fundamental human rights. I got favourable judgment, but, unfortunately, the police appealed the case on the basis of identity conflict. The Appeal Court urged us to return to the High Court for retrial. Since then, I have been demoralised, and I do not know whether my son is alive or dead. All I want is justice.”
Chairman of the panel Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe (rtd) admitted a photograph of the son, Compact Disc (CD) of the paraded suspects and court proceedings, as exhibits.
Further hearing in the matter was adjourned till November 17 to get response from the indicted officers.
The second victim, Sunday Akpan, said he was repeatedly hit on his ear by an officer for allegedly selling his wife’s refrigerator and shop to pay a debt.
Akpan, who spoke through his lawyer, Festus Obijeko, said he couldn’t hear well due to the assault .
Obijeko noted that his client’s condition had made it difficult for him to fend for his family.
He said: “Akpan was told the policeman died in the line of duty, and that the command would get back to him. That was in February this year. Since then, the police authorities have not gotten back to him.
“The matter has broken my client’s marriage. As I speak, Akpan and his wife are separate; his children are not in school and are not well fed. The psychological coverage a father should give to the children is missing.”
Justice Ehigiamusoe assured the victims the panel would be fair and thorough in its job. She added that victims could still come to the panel’s office to make oral petitions, and called on officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to also present their petitions.
She said: “We entertain oral petitions too. You can walk into the secretariat of the panel and lay your complaints verbally. Our sittings are open to the public and our findings and recommendations will be presented to the government…”