A Nigerian-Ukrainian and petitioner at the independent panel investigating allegations of human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigerian police, on Monday, narrated how police quenched his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Chigaemezu Ojinnaka told the panel that on April 14, 2020, he was shot in the leg by officers of the Nigerian police while he was on his way to visit his sick grandfather at the hospital.
He explained that he was riding a motorcycle before he was stopped by two police officers at a T-junction along Amuzie- Omanze road, Umuku/Isu Njaba community in Imo state.
Ojinnaka said while he was trying to park the motorcycle, one of the policemen shot him in the foot at close range. The two policemen fled the scene in a van marked No. 18 with the inscription ‘Flush and Search.’
He told the panel that he was immediately taken to a hospital where he was rejected. He was thereafter rushed to the Federal Medical Centre Owerri, saying that the bullets were still stuck in his leg despite three separate surgeries to remove them.
Few weeks after the ugly incident, Ojinnaka said his leg began to swell and he was in pains because the bullets were still inside as doctors in the FMC were already contemplating amputating his foot.
According to him, he had to be flown to Ukraine, where the Ukrainian doctors did a series of surgeries on his leg and saved him from possible amputation.
However, he said the incidence deformed his limb with no sensation in his feet and consequently killed his dream of becoming a footballer.
He lamented that all efforts to get the perpetrators to justice had proven difficult, alleging that the police were more interested in shielding the culprits than getting justice for him.
The 20-year-old prayed the panel to apprehend and prosecute the policemen involved in the incident.
During cross-examination, police counsel James Idachaba counsel asked Ojinnaka if he was sure the people he saw were actually police officers and not members of the state-owned security outfit.
The panel countered Idachaba and charged him to produce the investigating police officer (IPO) Dan Iroakazi at the next hearing so he could tell the panel the steps that had been taken to investigate the incident.
In addition, Idachaba was ordered to find out who were the policemen stationed at that T-junction along Amuzie Omanze road, Umuku/Isu Njaba community on the 14th April 2020, and which officer(s) were assigned the van marked No 18 with the inscription ‘Flush and Search’ in Imo State.
Acting chairman of the panel Garba Tetengi adjourned the case to 27th April 2021 for continuation of the hearing and charged the police counsel to ensure the presence of Dan Iroakazi at the next sitting.