An Independent Investigative Panel probing nationwide cases of police brutality in Abuja on Tuesday summoned the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Inuwa Hafiz, and a security adviser to Governor Ben Ayade, over the death of Emmanuel Ephraim.
The deceased’s brother, Paul Ephraim, had petitioned the panel alleging that the victim was extrajudicially killed in Atakpa, Cross River State, by the police in the state on June 17, 2017.
He alleged his brother was killed by the operatives of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and ‘Operation Skolombo’, an inter-agency security squad set up by the Cross River State Government to address cultism in the state.
The panel, which was set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the aftermath of last year’s #EndSARS protests, summoned the CP and the governor’s aide to account for their alleged roles in the activities of ‘Operation Skolombo’ “leading to the death of the victim.”
The 11-member body headed by a former Justice of the Supreme Court, Suleiman Galadima, also ordered Marcus Joe, an assistant superintendent of police, to appear at its next hearing to speak on his alleged role of depositing the corpse at the mortuary of Calabar General Hospital.
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It also ordered that the certified true copy of the Aktapa police station’s crime diary with the record of the movement of the corpse be produced.
The panel had earlier on November 20, 2020 ordered the police to produce the document, but the police instead came with a printed “Whatsapp copy” of the said document.
It ordered that the document be produced at the next sitting on February 25, ”and the CP of the state should also appear at the hearing”.
Meanwhile, the DPO of Atakpa, Kabiru Salisu, had appeared before the panel on November 30, 2020 and was cross-examined by the panel’s counsel, Chino Obiagwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria
Mr Salisu denied knowledge of how the deceased was killed.
While being cross-examined on Tuesday, Mr Salisu told the panel that police personnel were not part of ‘Operation Skolombo’ on the day Mr Ephraim was killed.
He, however, insisted that the victim was an armed robber, who was “shot dead during patrol of Operation Skolombo on the said date”.
‘Victim killed while returning from church’
But the petitioner had insisted that his brother was killed by operatives of ‘Operation Skolombo’ while he was “returning to the house from church”.
He said the deceased, who was “diagnosed of mental illness at the Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar in 2006” was not an armed robber.
The panel adjourned the case till February 25.
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