The Independent Investigative Panel (IPP) on human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other Units of the Nigeria Police Force set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) heard yesterday how a 23-year old graduate, Miss Linda Igwetu from Anambra State, was allegedly killed extra-judicially by a policeman in Abuja.
The deceased’s elder sister, Miss Chineye Igwetu, who momentarily betrayed emotion while presenting a petition before the panel, gave details of how a policeman, identified as Inspector Benjamin Peters of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, allegedly shot her sister on the night of July 3, 2018 around the Ceddi Plaza bridge in Abuja.
Chineye said: “On July 3, 2018 the deceased went out after work to celebrate her passing out from the National Youth Service, which was supposed to be the next day.
“Prior to her death, she was living with me and worked at Outsource Global Company, Mabushi (Abuja). Her working hours were between 1pm and 11pm everyday.”
Chineye said her late sister sent her a WhatsApp message around 10.22p.m on July 3, 2018 informing her she was going out with her colleagues in the office – Mr. Tobi and Mr. Arafat – to have drinks and also celebrate her conclusion of her NYSC scheme.
The complainant said she became uncomfortable when her sister, who has a key to their apartment, did not return at 2am.
“At about 4.35a.m, I got a distress call from unknown number and it was Mr. Bamidele Tobi asking me to come quickly to Garki Hospital that something happened on their way home from Ceddi Plaza.
“I got to the hospital and was informed that my sister was shot by Inspector Benjamin Peters.
“Mr. Tobi narrated that on their way home, while driving, he heard a loud sound, and thinking that it was his tyre.
“He said my late sister tapped him from the back seat that something hit her below her breast. He said when they (Mr. Tobi and Arafat) looked back, they say my sister panting and drenched in her blood.
“He said when they realised that the sound they hard was that of gunshot and that my sister was hit by stray bullet, they drove straight to the nearest hospital, which was the Garki Hospital.”
Chineye said the hospital officials did not attend to her sister timeously as they asked for many things at the same time, including blood and police report.
She said while they were making efforts to get blood, the news that her sister eventually died was conveyed to her around 6a.m on July 4, 2018 by a female nurse in the hospital. At that point, Chineye broke down and wept.
She said the then Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki later intervened, in view of the interest the incident generated, and set up a five-man investigation panel.
Chineye said when Inspector Peters appeared before the panel, he claimed that they were flagging them down, but they did not stop and they shot with the intention to deflate their tyres.
She said nothing came out of the involvement of the panel set up by Saraki, adding that “we got tired and gave up. It is like everything in Nigeria. Nothing happened after.”
On what she wants panel to do for her, Chineye said: “I want justice, I want my family to be be compensated. I want my mum to smile again. My parents are alive. I am the senior sister. I am the first daughter.”
The panel’s chairman, Justice Suleiman Galadima directed that proceedings of the day be sent to the police, who are the respondents, to enable them present their defence on November 16, 2020 when the case will again come up.
The panel earlier mentioned the petition filed by a car dealer, Bala Mohammed, but could not hear it because of the absence of parties.
Mohammed claimed, in the petition, that he was subjected to inhuman treatment, unlawful detention and seizure of his property by men of the Life Camp division of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in Abuja.
The petitioner claimed he sold “a tokunbo (used) Hyaundai jeep to AVM (Air Vice Marshal) Suleiman” at N2.5million, but that he paid N2.2 million leaving a balance of N300,000.
Mohammed stated that when the vehicle broke down about 40 days later, AVM Suleiman allegedly ordered, his arrest, detention and seizure of his vehicle when was unable to make refund as demanded by the customer.
Justice Galadima adjourned hearing of the petition till November 18, 2020 and ordered that fresh hearing notices be issued to parties in that regard.
The tribunal adjourned further sitting till November 6.