By Raphael Ekpang
The Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations by defunct Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigerian Police on Monday ordered the Police to produce evidence to prove that it deposited the corps of Emmanuel Ita Ephraim at the University Teaching Hospital mortuary, Calabar.
The Police had claimed that the corpse of the late Ephraim was brought to Akankpa Divisional Police station by officers of the Department of State Service (DSS) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC.
The panel also ordered the 2nd Respondent, Operation Skolombo Calabar which the Police alleged were on patrol the time Emmanuel (the deceased) engaged in exchange of gunshots with armed robbers, to appear before it on December 15, 2020.
ACP Salisu upon his cross examination by the police counsel, Godwin Ijeoma, said police personnel were not part of Operation Skolombo the very day the incident happened.
However, he stated that Operation Skolombo was set up by the Cross River State Government to assist in the maintenance of law and order in the state.
According to him, “It comprises Officers and Men of the DSS, NSCDC, Police, Military and Navy.”
The 11-member investigative panel chaired by Justice Suleiman Galadima (Rtd ) had warned the 4th Respondent, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Kabiru Salisu, over his conduct before the panel. The Senior Police Officer who was a Chief Superintendent of Police when the incident occurred had suddenly raised his voice when Counsel (NHRC) to the panel, Chino Obiagwu (SAN) asked him to tell the panel the time of his last promotion.
Seemingly losing his temper, ACP Salisu in a loud voice retorted, “This is not why i came here” and the Chairman of the panel corrected him saying, “You don’t shout here. If you don’t know the answer to the question, say i don’t know”.
Meanwhile, ACP Salisu’s action almost forced the panel to adjourn before the intervention of Obiagwu SAN and Police Counsel, Godwin Ijeoma whose apologies to the panel were granted.
ACP Salisu however, informed the panel that he only got involved in the case when he received a distress call via his walkie-talkie and thereafter directed his men who were on a patrol around his division to go to the said troubled spot and attend to any possible security challenge.
ACP Salisu who was a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) at the time the alleged extra-judicial killing occurred explained that his patrol team informed him that nothing happened when they got to the location where the distress call came from, which according to him informed his decision to ask the team to continue with the normal patrol.
Salisu further stated that when he later came back to his station he found an unidentified dead body lying at the station and he immediately informed the State Commissioner of Police, who directed him to deposit the corpse at the University Teaching Hospital, Calabar.
Earlier, the younger brother to the deceased, Prince Engr. Paul Offiong told the panel during his cross examination by Counsel (NHRC) to the panel, Chino Obiagwu (SAN), that his brother had on June 17, 2017 gone to Christ Embassy for the purpose of worshiping and he never came back again.
According to him, the deceased who was suffering from depression was frequently going to the Church to worship and to be possibly healed so that he could go back to his normal business only for someone to inform the family that their brother has been shot.
He stated that his father, Dr.Charles Offiong who is also a Clan Head in the Community went to the Divisional Police Akankpa and confirmed that the late Emmanuel was his son.
He told the panel that his father wrote to the Police to release the corpse to the family for burial but according to him the Police told him that they would oblige him if he would accept to tone down the language in his letter of request to have the deceased released to the family for burial.
He said the Police allegedly complained about the language of the deceased father’s letter to the Police to avoid implicating the force.
Engr. Paul, the complainant told the panel that his father then accepted to write another letter which the Police accepted and later released the corpse to the family for burial, having made the father of the deceased to include in his letter that he will not open the case of the alleged extra-judicial killing again.
He told the panel that the Police said they believed the victim was an armed robber, though he said they later apologised to the family for the death of their loved one.
Corereporters report that the panel later adjourned the case to December 15, 2020 for continuation.