The coalition of civil society organizations (CSOs) and human rights lawyers working on the ever-exploding Ikokwu-5 saga in Port Harcourt have demanded for the redeployment of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura. They told a crowded press conference in Port Harcourt Monday afternoon that this was to give way to proper investigation and prosecution.
Addressing the press, Enefaa Georgewill, chairman of the coalition that also includes Ikokwu Spare Parts Dealers Association leaders, regretted that investigations so far were full of shoddy handling and cover up. For instance, he said names of many of those detained were incomplete (single names) while the name of the notorious female police officer that allegedly manhandled the organ of Chima Ikwunado who died in their hands during torture and some of the other survivors has not featured on the list.
He also said in the address endorsed by all the CSOs that the police public relations officer, Nnamdi Omoni, had since admitted in a radio broadcast that the E-Crack Commander, Benson Adesuyi, told the police headquarters in Port Harcourt lies about cause of death of Chima.
The CSOs wondered why such an officer was not among those detained but instead was only redeployed to the state headquarters on Moscow Road, the same place the entire matter was being investigated.
The coalition said the public no longer could have confidence in the ability of the Rivers CP to continue with the investigations and would also not trust words coming from the PPRO, hence the need for the PPRO to resign and the CP and other top officers connected with the scandal to be redeployed to rebuild the confidence of the international community in the Nigerian police.
Enefaa said it was unfortunate that despite the international uproar, the Rivers police command has not addressed the state and that nobody knows the extend of the investigations. “It was the over five million petitions generated worldwide and sent to the president and inspector-general of police that forced the Rivers police to allow an independent autopsy to be done in the first place. Everything achieved so far in this matter was through pressure, not out of love by the CP to do what is right”.
Meanwhile, the CSOs said efforts and visits at the police from Mile One to the State CID could only produce five out of the nine phone handsets surrendered by Chima and his boys to the E-Crack Squad after their arrest.
The CSOs said the remaining four phones, sum of N132,450, mechanic tools, and batteries of the cars alleged to be robbed by Chima group were not found. The owners of the two cars had earlier told newsmen that their cars were vandalized in the hands of the E-Crack Squad at Mile One.
The CSOs said efforts made between Friday February 14 and Monday February 17, 2020, could only produce five phones. It was gathered that the new commander of the Crack Squad at Mile One had asked then to go to the headquarters for any further inquiry because the case had been taken over. It was at the Homicide Section in the headquarters that anything was recovered.
The Ikokwu 5 is the case of five Ikokwu mechanics returning from work at about 7pm on December 19, 2019, when they were apprehended by E-Crack Unit of the Rivers police for driving one-way. They were searched and N132,450 was found on four of them. They were accused of being armed robbers and cultists and bundled into detention.
They, they were subjected to extreme torture until Chima died, according to the survivors. Heat came as some soldiers related to the owners of the cars joined the effort to prove that the owners willingly gave their cars for repairs.
The E-Crack seemed to crack and thus charged the survivors to a magistrate court even though the charge talked of robbery which was not a magistrate case. Public outcry grew louder and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the state entered no case submission and the boys were discharged and acquitted.
The police aggravated the matter by arresting 52 traders who protested on the death of their colleague and 29 who could not allegedly bail themselves with fixed amounts landed in court but were granted bail by the court.
See full statement
PRESS RELEASE BY RIVERS CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS AND OTHER INTERESTED GROUPS INRIVERS STATE.
Recall our World Press Conference, online Protest, Petition to the President and collation of signatures from the general public that led to the Police conducting Autopsy on Late Chima Ikwunado. We had deliberately delayed making public statement on these intricate issues that are involved in this matter; but following the failure of the Police to do the needful as a result of the revelation of the Autopsy conducted on the 10th of February, 2020, on the body of Late Chima Ikwunado, and witnessed by all stakeholders, it became clear to us that Late Chima Ikwunado died of extreme Police torture and brutality for which there is no justification and defence whatsoever.
What is even most worrisome is the fact that, the team of Doctors that conducted the Autopsy (Both from Government and our own side) agreed that, there was no earlier Autopsy conducted on Late Chima Ikwunadobefore the 10th of February, 2020. By implication, the Police lied to Rivers people and indeed the world about the claim that Late Chima Ikwunado died of High Blood Sugar.
RAISON D’ETRE FOR TODAY’S BRIEFING.
Despite this alarming and embarrassing exposure as stated above, we regret that the following have not be done:
1. The Commissioner of Police has refused to address the state to rebuild the confidence of the general public on the Police despite several calls from critical stakeholders.
2. The former E-Crack commander is yet to be arrested, detained for complicity rather we were notified that he was redeployed to the head quarters.
3. The arrested police officers are yet to be paraded and their full names displayed for confirmation.
4. The names of Sergeant Rose and Mr. Sam Nnodim are missing in the list of arrested officers making the rounds in the public space.
LEGAL OPINION AND CONSTITUTION
Police Act, CAP.P19 of the Laws of the Federation, where it was provided amongst others, that the Police shall be employed for “the protection of life and property”. A situation where the Police arrested suspects, took them into custody, tortured and brutalized them to the extremity, culminating in the death of one of them, as in the instant case, leaves much to be desired, as the Police had apparently exceeded their powers as provided for in the said Police Act.
The Nigeria Constitution: We also refer the Police to Sections 33(1), 34(1) and 35 of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.
Section 33(1) of the said Constitution stated clearly that “every person has a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a Court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria
Section 34(1) states that “every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly, (a) no person shall he subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.
Section 35 provides that “every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save (a) in execution of the sentence or order of Court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty’.
The Torture Of The Suspects: We therefore ask the Police; which sentence of Court were they executing when they tortured the “Five Ikoku boys” they arrested on the 19th December, 2019, which led to grievous bodily injury of all of them, and which led to the death of Mr. Chima Ikwunado. The Police also attempted to murder Mr. Ifeanyi Onyekwere who they inflicted so much bodily injury and is undergoing treatment ever since then till date; and Mr. Victor Ogbonna who they inflicted internal injury that produces blood whenever he coughs.
We further ask the Police whether this is the way to protect “life and property” of Nigerians?
Professor A.V. Dicey stated in the “Law of the Constitution”, 10th ed at P.202 that ”English men are ruled by the Law and by the Law alone: a man may with us be punished for a breach of the Law, but cannot be punished for nothing else”. The Rule of Law is not restricted to English men alone, but applies universally to all societies governed by Law, such as Nigeria, namelys: the Constitution.
The Anti Torture Act 2017: This Act criminalizes all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments of human beings. We refer the Police to Sections 7(1) to (4) of the ANTI TORTURE ACT. Sub section 4 states clearly; “The immediate commanding officer of the unit concerned of the security or Law enforcement agencies is held liable as an accessory to the crime for any act or omission or negligence on his part that may have led to the commission of torture by his subordinates”. (Emphasis mine).
We hereby rely on the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act above cited, and strongly call on the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Police Command, to produce the commander of the “Eagle crack Squad” or “E- crack Team” under reference for thorough investigation, as he cannot escape the crime committed by the members of the Team he commanded to torture and kill innocent suspects in this matter.
We are saying that the redeployment of the Unit Commander of the “E- Crack Team” elsewhere is an act of cover up, as the commander is as culpable as the members of the team in this matter.
THE CHARGE OR INFORMATION TO BE FILED IN COURT
The charges or information to be filed in Court for the trial of the “E-crack team” should be:
Ø Murder of Chima Ikwunado
Ø Attempted murder of Mr. Ifeanyi Onyekwere
Ø Torture of Mr. Victor Ogbonna
Ø Torture of Mr. Osaze Friday
Ø Torture of Mr. Ifeanyi Osuji
The Police Service Commission: We hereby call on the Police Service Commission of Nigeria to terminate the employment of the members of the “Eagle Crack Team” and dissolve the entire unit. The Commission is hereby called upon to turn in the said persons for prosecution as they acted ultra vires the powers given to them by the Police Act.
The Victims And Their Families: We finally call on the Police Service Commission to pay for the medical bills of the victims of the Police brutality in this matter, and pay them adequate compensation for the violation of their Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Nigeria.
1. We call on the Inspector General of Police to redeploy the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command on the following grounds:
a. The E-crack unit is the Commissioner of Police tactical unit and they are answerable to him.
b. His body language does not favour a neutral prosecution of this matter.
c. This is not the first time SP Benson is lying to the general public without any action by the Commissioner for Police as confirmed by the PPRO Rivers State DSP Nnamdi Omoni.
2. That the Police PPRO Rivers State Command should resign on grounds of his unprofessionalism and sending out information without verification.
3. That the erring police officers beginning from SP Benson should be paraded, their full names made public and prosecution commence without delay.
4. That all the properties of the IKOKU5 collected from them upon their illegal arrest should be returned to them immediately.
Finally, we call on the Nigerian Police Force to come clean in this matter as Nigerians, International Organisations and the World is watching.
NAME: ORGANISATION SIGNATURE
1. ENEFAA GEORGEWILL RIVERS CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATION …………………………………………
2. BARR. HIGHER KING HIGHER KING RIGHTS FOUNDATION …………………………………………
3. EUGENE ABEL EXTRA STEP INITIATIVE …………………………………………
4. KOFI BARTELS CONCERNED RESIDENT OF RIVERS STATE ………………………………………
5. MAZI F. C. ONWUMA OHANEZE IDIGBO, RIVERS STATE …………………………………………
6. BARR. COURAGE NSIRIMOVO IHRHL …………………………………………
7. BARR. EMMA OKPALA ASSOCIATION OF IGBO LAWYERS
RIVERS STATE BRANCH ……………………………………………