The former Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Abraka Police Division, Delta State and the Investigative Police Officer (IPO) of the Division on Thursday gave contradictory accounts of the death of an alleged armed robber before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)’s investigative panel on human rights abuses by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units.
The former DPO, CSP Hassah Isah and the IPO, Inspector Kambari Tambari were testifying in the petition filed by Mr Godwin Onomrerhino, on behalf of his son, Ovoke Godwin Onomrerhino, who he alleged was killed extra-judicially by the DPO and the chairman of Igun Vigilante in Ethiope East Local Government of Delta State, Mr Odiri Emeni.
The petitioner had joined Isah; Emeri; Igun Vigilante, Ethiope East LGA; Delta State Commissioner of Police and the Inspector-General of Police as respondents in the petition.
Isah informed that the late Ovoke Godwin, who he said was arrested on June 29, 2019 by the Igun Vigilante in connection with an armed robbery incident on the Eku-Igun highway the previous day, jumped from the police vehicle and got injured.
He said the victim took policemen to where his gang kept their operation weapons used in the robbery operation, adding that as they were returning to the station he jumped from the vehicle, adding that he went to inspect him and gave his men N5,000 to take the victim to the Abraka General Hospital for treatment.
“I was told Ovoke confessed and wanted to take the police to where their operational weapons used for the robbery on Igun road. When they came back, they told me that they recovered two guns and some cartridges.
“As they were driving into the station, Ovoke jumped down from the vehicle while it was moving and got himself injured. He was rearrested and brought to the station. I ordered that he be taken to Abraka General Hospital.
“I ordered ASP Alex to follow them. I gave them about N5,000 to commence treatment. It was Alex that informed me that while he (Ovoke) was receiving treatment he died,” CSP Isah told the panel.
While he denied having a hand in the victim’s death, the former DPO stated that the remains of the deceased was at a private mortuary at Obiaruku in Delta State.
On his part, Tambari stated that the late Ovoke attempted to escape and jumped out of the police vehicle after the recovery of the weapons where he kept it and hit the road.
“As we were going back to Abraka around 1:30 am, he jumped out of the vehicle and hit himself on the road. He was unconscious and we rushed him to the hospital.
“He was confirmed dead at the hospital, Abraka General Hospital. Based on the incident we contactee our DPO who advises that we should take him to the mortuary, Medisarj Hospital at Obiakuru,” the IPO told the panel.
The chairman of Igun Vigilante, Emeni, on his part, said the victims of the robbery incident reported to his group, adding that they identified some of the robbers as members of Igun community.
He said after informing the DPO, he and his group members arrested one Godspower Okumagbo, who later confessed and mentioned the late Ovoke as part of the gang.
Emeni informed that he later led the group to arrest the deceased in a community in Udu LGA, adding that he handed the late Ovoke to the police alive without any injury.
The petitioner, Godwin Onomrerhino, had earlier narrated how his son was allegedly killed by the police, adding that he later wrote a petition to NPF Zone 5 for investigation.
He stated that up till now, the police had yet to release the remains of his son to him for burial, adding that they said they were still investigating the matter and as such could only release the corpse after the conclusion of the investigation.
Meanwhile, the panel has adjourned the further hearing of the petition till January 28, 2021, to enable the IPO and the four other police officers he claimed they were in the vehicle the day the deceased died to appear before it.