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On June 19, a Police inspector attached to Special Protection Unit (SPU) Base 9, Umuahia, Abia State, but on duty at RC Lotto Company at Golf Estate in Enugu State, shot at some workers in his place of assignment.
Some of the victims who survived the incident said he called out their names to ensure they were dead after shooting them.
During an interview with The PUNCH, one of the victims, identified as Elizabeth, said the Police inspector repeatedly called her and her sister’s name, challenging them to come out if they were still alive.
According to Elizabeth, when she heard the gunshot, she hid inside a room with her sister and one other co-worker, Christiana, but the Police officer continued to shoot until the bullets hit them.
“The bodies of my sister and the other lady shielded me. The bullets only hit me on the elbow in one hand and upper arm. Two of them died immediately because he riddled their bodies with bullets,” Elizabeth said.
She also said that after calling their names, the officer called his colleague on the phone and informed him that he had killed two gunmen in the neighbourhood.
“Christina hid under the bed in her pool of blood from the shot on her chest, and my sisters lay on top of me in a pool of blood. The cop called our names to know whether anyone was still alive so that he could complete the job.
“He said, ‘Susana! Susana! Come out if you are alive. Elizabeth! come out if you are alive.’ When he didn’t hear any voice, then I heard him calling another policeman on the phone to come, saying that some gunmen came to the neighbourhood, but he killed two of them,” she said.
One of the workers at RC lotto, who identified herself as Rose, said the officer was known in the neighborhood and was called Officer MOP.
The ICIR had reported that although the Enugu State Police Public Relations Officer Daniel Ndukwe had issued two statements over the case, he had refused to include the officer’s name.
One month after the incident, The ICIR, again, contacted Ndukwe via telephone, asking him to explain why the command had refused to name the Police officer. He replied that it would be disclosed only after the conclusion of the investigation.
“I am not the one conducting the investigating… I am not hiding anything; it is not information you want to joke about. When the investigation is completed, we will make all details public,” Ndukwe said.
He also refused to share the contact of the officer conducting the investigation.
Governor of Enugu State Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has visited the four survivors of the incident at the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu.
When The ICIR reached out to the Enugu State government over the reluctance of the Police command to disclose the officer’s name, Commissioner for Information Chidi Aroh said he was not in a position to speak on it.
“We are not in a position to speak to this; it is purely a police investigation. When the investigation is done, that is when it would be sent to our attorney-general for advice. So, we do not want to interfere with the Police investigation,” Aroh said.
A Lagos-based lawyer Ayo Ademiluyi told The ICIR that there was no legal reason for the Police to refuse to disclose the suspect’s name.
Ademiluyi said it was essential for the Police to disclose his name to allow the victims’ families to institute a civil suit against the suspect.
“There is no legal reason whatsoever for hiding the name of the Police officer in an orderly room trial. In fact, they need to disclose it so that the families of the victims can make a civil suit against the particular Police officer,” Ademiluyi said.
He noted that as a lawyer, he had observed that Police commands often tried to shield their officers from the public in cases of highhandedness and brutality.
Extra-judicial killings in Nigeria
About 10 months ago, thousands of Nigerian youths across the nation hit the streets to protest against extrajudicial killings and brutality by officers of the Nigerian Police Force.
The protest tagged #ENDSARS was majorly against a defunct Police unit called Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) found to have illegally murdered innocent citizens.
The protesters’ demands included: immediate release of all arrested protesters; justice for all deceased victims of Police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families, as well as setting up of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of Police misconduct.
They also demanded psychological evaluation (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers before they could be redeployed and an increase in the Police salary.
Although SARS have been disbanded, the killings have not stopped as trigger-happy cops continue to kill many innocent Nigerians.