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Profiles of persons brutally murdered by Nigerian Police since 2008

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THE protest that rocked major cities across the nation in 2020 was linked to the high-handedness and allegations of abuses against the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police.

The SARS was founded in 1992 by former Police Commissioner Simeon Danladi Midenda with a mandate to arrest, investigate and prosecute suspected armed robbers, murderers, kidnappers, hired assassins and other suspected violent criminals in the country.

It was counted as one of the 14 units under the Nigerian Police Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department.

In the early days of the unit, combat-ready SARS officers operated undercover in plain clothes and plain vehicles without any security or government insignia and did not carry arms in public.

However, the unit later deviated from its primary purpose of carrying out covert operations and began to set up roadblocks, extorting money from citizens and killing those they were expected to protect.

The unit had been implicated in widespread human rights abuses, extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention and extortion.

The SARS officers then allegedly moved on to targeting and detaining young men for cybercrime or being ‘online fraudsters,’ simply on the evidence of their owning  laptops or smartphones, and then demanding excessive bail fees to let them go.

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Before they were banned, SARS officers had been infamous for violent confrontations with civilians that often ended up in death. The Police unit, which was designed to bring peace and security to Nigerians, was soon the one responsible for weepings in many homes in the country.

Between 2008 and 2020, SARS and operatives were allegedly responsible for the extra-judicial killings of tens of Nigerians. Below are some of the names operatives of the Nigerian Police Force had to their untimely death.

1. Emmanuel Egbo

Emmanuel Egbo was a 15-year-old boy killed by a Police officer in Enugu on 25 September 2008. He was playing with his fellow children and was unarmed. In August 2009, his body disappeared from the mortuary. There was no record that documented that his killers were brought to book.

2. Godgift Ferguson Ekerete

Godgift Ferguson Ekerete, a 24-year old, was arrested during a Police raid in Port Harcourt alongside three others.

On the morning of  July 3, 2008, a bus-load of armed policemen wearing mufti intercepted a group of four men waiting for a bus at Rumuomasi in Port Harcourt to take them to a burial ceremony. The men took off in fear of their lives and the policemen opened fire on them, arresting all four.

  • Godgift Ferguson Ekerete
  • Tony Oruama
  • Harry Ataria
  • Mbakwe Oruama
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Godgift Ferguson Ekerete (aged 24), Tony Oruama (aged 21), Harry Ataria (aged 26) and Mbakwe Oruama (aged 20) were taken to the Mile One Police Station in Port Harcourt and, according to Amnesty International, were all killed at the Police station the same day.

The policemen had labelled them ‘armed robbers and cultists’ and their deaths were never investigated. The families of the victims who swore their sons were innocent never received official accounts of the events that led to the deaths of their children.

4. Daniel Adewuyi Tella

Daniel Adewuyi Tella was a 27-year-old graduate of Banking and Finance. He was arrested on February 7, 2006 on his way home in Festac, Lagos. He died in Police custody and the Police later alleged that Daniel Adewuyi Tella sustained serious injuries when he jumped out of a moving police vehicle. His family did not believe this story and suspects their son was tortured to death at the station.

5. Chika Ibeku

On April 7, 2009, the Police stopped a car occupied by five men:

  • Chika Ibeku (29)
  • Gabriel Ejoor Owoicho (29)
  • Precious Odua (27) and two others.

They were arrested and detained at Omoku Police station, Rivers State. Their families were informed of their arrest. On April 8, Johnson Nnaemeka (39), the owner of the car, was questioned at Omoku Police Station. He was arrested on April 9, and his house was searched. That same day, all six men were taken to the Swift Operation Squad (SOS) in Old GRA, Port Harcourt. Police officers at SOS confirmed their detention. Their families were not allowed to see them after their transfer. On April 11, Police officers at SOS claimed the men were transferred to SARS. Officers at SARS denied this. To date, the whereabouts of the six men are unknown.

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6. Christian Onuigbo

Christian Onuigbo was a 28-year-old father of one living in Abuja. He was shot by the Police while parking his car in Jiwa. He spent the night at Jiwa Police station and was taken to the hospital the next morning. He died the next day after the hospital refused to treat him without a Police report.

7. Tina Ezekwe

Tina Ezekwe was a 16-year-old secondary school student that was shot and killed by two Police officers at the Iyana-Oworo area of Lagos State in May, 2020.

8. Modebayo Awosika

Modebayo Awosika was shot in the head by officers of the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad on October 1, 2008. They set his car on fire after they shot him. An autopsy showed that he had died of a gunshot. The Police told the coroner that Modebayo Awosika’s car hit the Police patrol vehicle. One of the Police officers shot at the car as “the driver… was suspected to be a robber.” The five Police officers on duty that night were reportedly redeployed to undisclosed locations but no investigation was carried out.

Others are:

9. Peter Ofurum

10. Linda Igwetu

11. Chinedu Ani

12. Chukwuemeka Mathew Onovo

13. Johnson Nnaemeka

14. Steven Agbanyim

15. Chidi Odinauwa

16. Ifeoma Abugu

17. Iloanya Chijioke John.

However, the list is inexhaustive.

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You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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