By Shola Akingboye, 5 November 2021
One of the lawyer representing the Nigerian Police at the on-going Independent Investigative Panel on human right violations, Mr. Malik Taiwo, has told the panel that it is not the duty of the Police to investigate allegations levelled against it.
The lawyer made the declaration on Friday, in the case of alleged torture and extra-judicial killing of one Ihunanya Maxwell (late).
Recalls that the family of the deceased had pleaded with the Chairman of the panel, Suleiman Galadima (rtd), represented by Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN) to order an immediate release of the body of the victim to them for proper burial, since all efforts to secure the release of the victim’s body by his family had failed.
The complainant had stated that the hospital has turned down several attempts by the deceased family to have his body on excuse that only the Police who deposited the corpse can authorise its release, which is still being disputed by counsel to the respondent.
When the matter came up before the panel for hearing, Mr. Taiwo was asked by the presiding Chairman, Tetengi SAN, if he made effort to unravel the true identity of the police officers who were allegedly involved in the matter. The lawyer, Taiwo Esq, therefore responded that he had not, and that the onus lies on the petitioner to carry out the investigation and produce same before the panel.
In a swift reaction, one of the panellists, John Aikpopko Martins, representing the Nigeria Bar Association on the panel reminded Mr Malik that he is defending the police and therefore has a responsibility to hear from the respondents as this will further guide his defence.
Aikpopko noted that grey areas exist in the matter which he said must be cleared with the assistance of counsel to the police, Malik D. Taiwo.
The case which was last heard on November 1, 2021, had the petitioner, Chinedu Amadike narrating how his brother (Ihunnaya, now deceased) was arrested and detained on 20th June 2018 by officers of B’ Division Police Warri in Delta State.
Chinedu informed the panel that when he visited the station the following day, 21st June, an anonymous Police officer discreetly told him that his brother had just been taken to the General Hospital in Warri, by the police.
Chinedu said he quickly called his younger sister, directing her to go to the hospital, and that on getting to the hospital, she found the victim already dead.
The petitioner said, he later visited the hospital and was told by the mortuary attendant that the police were the ones who deposited his brother’s corpse at the morgue and that their presence would be necessary before the body could be released.
Counsel to the petitioner A.0 Uwangue sought the permission of the panel to tender seven additional documents said to be the correspondence exchanged between the National Human Rights Commission and the office of the Inspector General of Police in respect of the matter.
Uwangue Esq, also appealed to the Chairman of the panel to assist the family of the deceased by ordering for the release of Ihunanya’s body for proper burial, since the family has tried to secure its release but to no avail.
The hospital has turned down several attempts by the deceased family to have his body, stating that only the Police who are the depositors of the corpse can authorise the release, a fact that is being disputed by counsel to the ‘respondent, he added.
Tetengi SAN therefore ruled that, in view of the uncertainty surrounding the identity of the depositor, the panel will issue a written order directing the Chief Medical Director of the hospital to produce all documents relating to the victim.
In doing this he further directed that the Police should liaise with the petitioner to unravel the true identity of the depositor of the corpse.
The matter was adjourned to 25th November 2021 for defence.