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#EndSARS Panel: Police detain mother, 3 children for asking husband’s whereabouts

By Ameh Ejekwonyilo

A housewife, Mrs. Bolanle Ohore and her three children were detained at the SARS, (Abattoir) for three days when she went to inquire about the whereabouts of her husband.

In the case of unlawful arrest, detention, enforced disappearance, extortion, and abuse of office which was heard on Monday by the Independent Investigative Panel on the disbanded SARS sitting at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Abuja, counsel to the petitioner, Mr. Wisdom Edun, narrated how Mrs. Bolanle was compelled to pay the sum of N50, 000.00 before she and her three children could be released from custody.

According to him, her offence was daring to ask for the whereabouts of her husband.

Narrating further, Mr. Edun informed the panel that in the last one year of Mr. Ohore’s arrest by the police, all efforts to locate his whereabout by his family members have proved abortive, this informed his wife’s decision to go in search of him at the SARS office at abattoir, he said.

During the hearing, two witnesses Mr. Maxwell Ekpo and Taiwo Endurance narrated how Ohore was arrested.

Testimonies from both witnesses revealed that Mr. Ohore was accosted by two policemen on the evening of 12th January, 2020 at the Arena (a viewing center) situated at Abacha Road Mararaba in Nasarawa State, where all three friends had gone to watch a football match. 

They further narrated, that while the match was going on, two fierce-looking men, one in police uniform and the other in mufti, accosted Mr. Ohore for reasons unknown to them, shooting first in between his legs before shooting sporadically into the air.

Mr. Maxwell stated that in the cause of the sporadic shooting, one of the many people who were also present at the viewing center was instantly killed by a stray bullet, while others sustained varying degrees of injuries, including Taiwo Endurance (one of the witnesses).

They also recounted how Mr. Ohore was eventually whisked away in a green taxi to an unknown destination by the policemen.

Counsel to the petitioner who applied to have Mrs. Bolanle, the DPO, Abacha road Police Station and other witnesses in the case at the next hearing, prayed the panel to among other things; thoroughly investigate the unlawful arrest of Ogaga Ohore, his sudden disappearance from custody, a refund of N50, 000 extorted from his wife and the sum of N500, 000000 (Five hundred Million Naira Only), for holding Ohore incommunicado and also for detaining his wife and children for three (3) days.

The matter was adjourned to February 25th, 2021 for a continuation of the hearing.

In a related development, the police were again accused of enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest, and prolonged unlawful detention of Lukman Salihu.

Counsel to the petitioner,  Shuaibu Arewa Esq. informed the panel that at the time of his arrest in July 2015, Lukman who was accused by the joint Federal Team of belonging to a terrorist group was a student of Nasarawa State Polytechnic.

The matter was taken to court on May 13, 2016, where the Attorney General of the Federation, Chief of Army Staff, IGP, Director General, State Security Service was joined as respondents.

According to Arewa, throughout the duration of the hearing in the Court, all other institutions listed in the case made an appearance and denied knowledge on the whereabout of Mr. Lukeman, except the Police which neither appeared before the court nor filed a counter-affidavit. 

The Court, therefore, awarded one Million Naira damages to be paid by the Police or release of Lukeman Suleiman which has not been responded to.

Narrating further, Arewa Esq. told the panel that the Nigerian Police had failed to obey a Federal High court order to produce Lukeman. He, therefore, appealed to the panel to compel the appearance of SUPOL Christopher of defunct SARS, (IPO at the time of the incidence). Arewa Esq. also appealed to the panel to compel the police to honor the court order previously given by providing Lukeman or to give an account of his whereabouts, and if they fail, then the sum of N500, 00000O   should be paid to his family as compensation.

Lead counsel to the respondents, James Idachaba Esq. promised to reach out to Force Criminal Investigative Department to verify the whereabout  of Lukeman Salihu and get back to the panel at the next hearing.

The matter was adjourned to February 26, 2021, to compel the appearance of SUPOL Christopher and for the Police to explain the whereabout of the victim. 

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