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One week after Wike’s allegation, court convicts five SARS policemen of extrajudicial killing

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Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris

Few weeks after Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State, alleged that personnel of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police were responsible for the armed robbery and kidnappings in the State, five members of the squad have been found guilty of extrajudicial killing.

A High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Friday held that the SARS officials, led by one Samuel Chigbu, arrested 28-year-old Michael Akor and his friend, Michael Igwe, in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state on June 22, 2009, only for their bodies to be found in a nearby bush the next day.

Adolphus Enebeli, the presiding judge, also ordered the Nigeria Police to pay a N50 million compensation to the families of the victims.

He noted that no investigation or trial was carried out by the security agents before killing the two young graduates contrary to the laws of the land.

The policemen had argued that the two Michaels were members of a group of hoodlums who had engaged the police in a gun battle and were hit by bullets during the crossfire, but the judge dismissed their explanation, insisting that it was no coincidence that the two victims were hit at the same part of their bodies.

Chigbu and the four other SARS operatives had since been dismissed from the Police Force after the incident. They are also facing murder charges before Justice Margaret Opara of the State High Court in Port Harcourt.

Johnson Ejekwu, counsel to the late victims, told journalists after the judgement that he would have preferred a death sentence for the convicted ex-SARS operatives to the N50 million compensation.

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Ejekwu, however, urged relevant authorities to intervene in the extrajudicial killings which are still being carried out by SARS in the state.

Catherine Akor, mother of one of the deceased, lamented that no amount of compensation would be enough to make up for the loss of her son. She said her husband’s health had deteriorated since the death of their son and that he has suffered severe memory loss.

Last week, Wike told a gathering in Port-Harcourt that the Nigerian Police were sabotaging all his efforts at improving security in the state. He specifically accused the SARS of perpetrating the robberies and kidnappings in the state.

But, Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector-General of Police, described the allegations as “nonsense”.

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