By Jethro Ibileke
An operative of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Isaac Edoh, on Thursday told the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of human rights abuse by men of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, that he is yet to know the state of his son, whether dead or alive, since 2011.
Edoh who is from Benue state, said the last time he saw his son, Baba Edoh, was in the custody of the Edo state police command in 2011.
He told the panel that his son was an undergraduate of English Literature, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, before he was allegedly killed by the police.
According to him, sometime in June 2011, he received an anonymous call from the State Criminal Investigation Department of the state police command that his son was arrested along Auchi road for alleged kidnapping.
He said he immediately took permission from his superior at the office in Lagos and rushed to Benin to see his son, but saw him lying in his pool of his blood, obviously from physical assault and inhuman treatment melted on him by the police operatives.
“I tried speaking with him, but was prevented by officers on duties, despite knowledge of the relationship between me and the suspect in their custody,” he said.
The Customs officer said the following day, he visited the station and discovered that the name of his son was not on any of the records of the detainees in the cell.
“I immediately contacted the officer-in-charge of kidnapping section who informed me that my son was not in their custody. I was informed that he was one of the suspects paraded on a national television on June 4, 2011.
“I was told armed robbers attacked and shot my son, while the police was conducting further investigations in Auchi. None of the Police officers sustained injuries. The only person they said died was my son. Since his death, the police have refused to release the corps.
“I later filed a suit in the high court for fundamental rights, and got judgement, but unfortunately the police appealed the case on the basis of identity conflict. The court of appeal urged us to return to the high court for retrial. Since then I have been demoralised, and don’t know whether he is alive or dead; all I want is justice.
Chairman of the Panel, Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe (Rtd), admitted a photograph of the son, Compact Disk (CD) of paraded suspects, and court proceedings as exhibits.
Ehigiamusoe adjourned hearing on the case to Thursday, November 17, so as to get response from the police.
In a related development, another victim of human rights abuse, Sunday Akpan told the panel that he was smacked repeatedly on his ear by a police officer for allegedly selling his wife’s refrigerator and shop to pay debt.
Counsel to the victim, Festus Obijeko, said that his client is facing hearing difficulties due to the assault he received from the officer, which he said has made it difficult to fend for his family.
He added that the police officer’s interference in a civil domestic matter broke his client’s marriage irretrievably.
“He was told that the said officer died in the line of duty and that the command will get back to him, that was sometime in February this year. Since that time till this moment, they have not gotten back to him.
“As I am talking with you now, himself and his wife are not together again, the children are not in school, the children are not well-fed, that psychological coverage that family should offer to his children has been missing,” Obijekor said.
As of November 5, the panel has received 24 petitions.
The chairman of the panel, Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe (Rtd) assured the victims of police brutality that the panel would be balanced and thorough in its job and would not rely on the account of one party to make its judgement but would also invite the police to give their own side of the story.
Justice Ehigiamusoe said the panel is not to indict anyone but could only make recommendations to the government on how the victims of police brutality could be compensated at the end.