Posted by News Express | 17 April 2021 | 595 times
By KAZEEM AWOJOODU
The Oyo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality is progressing on a daily basis as it has summoned Police officers who handled the case of an Ibadan-based trader, Kehinde Omotoso, who died in police custody in July 2020.
The deceased was said to have been arrested by police officers from Iyaganku, Ibadan for an offence allegedly committed by his nephew.
The latest development according to the panel in it’s sitting on Thursday said it summoned the officers so that they can state their own side of the story on the petition filed against them.
The panel further ordered that a letter of inquiry be sent to the Oyo State Hospitals Management Board to locate the corpse of the deceased, as the police in its process before the panel claimed that the remains of the late Omotoso was deposited at the morgue of the General Hospital Ring Road, after he was confirmed dead.
The panel also asked that the lawyer whose name appears on the letter attached to the affidavit also appear before it, to explain who briefed for the job after the family called two witnesses, Jelili Rasak and Sekinat Yusuf, who were led in testimony by their counsel, Toyese Owoade from the Afe Babalola chambers.
Recounting how the incident happened, Jelili in his testimony said around 12.25am on July 17, 2020, there were gunshots in the neigbourhood and the night watchman was alerting the neigbourhood that thieves had invaded the area but before he could come out of his room, there was heavy knocking at their door by some people who identified themselves as police officers.
He said the police officers pushed him into the house with a gun and when he asked to know about their mission into the house, he was hit on the chest and head with guns without allowing them to talk.
He told the panel that the officers from the State Criminal Investigation Department, Iyaganku, who said they were looking for Kabiru, handcuffed him and the late Kehinde as the only men in the house, took them to Agugu Police Station and immediately moved them to Iyaganku where they were thrown into the cell around 1.15am without telling them their offence or telling their family where they were taken them to.
According to him, they met about 126 people in the cell of around 15×15 feet and in the morning, they asked them questions, wrote statements on their behalf and told them too sign under duress and were taken back to the cell around 10.00am without allowing them see anybody or eat.
He said they did not eat for five days as they had no one to give them food and had no money on them.
He said: “On Monday, they took us out again and took us to the Officer in Charge of the anti-cultism unit and he asked if we were ready to tell them Kabiru’s whereabouts. We repeated that we didn’t know where he was as he left the house months before the incident.
“We were taken back to the cell, and on Monday night, Kehinde was in too much discomfort and stomach pains. We went to bed and he was already dead in the cell before morning.”
Sekinat in her testimony said while it was true she signed the affidavit submitted by the police, she doesn’t know the contents as she couldn’t read or write, adding that she thought the officers were helping her when they told her to sign the affidavit.
Under cross examination by police counsel, Matthew Ojeah, Jelili and Sekinat, including their elder brother, Demola Omotoso and two daughters of the deceased didn’t change their testimony.
The panel while going through the police response to the petition noted that the police order to remand Omotoso for 14 days was obtained on the afternoon of the day he died with the police doctor’s report confirming he died at 6.00am that morning.
Further, the panel noted that the date on the warrant of arrest and search warrant was obtained by the police was two days after Jelili and Kehinde had been arrested.
It added that, from police exhibits, nothing incriminating was found in the domain of the two men.
The panel asked why all processes like search and arrest warrant was done together for the two but remand order was only obtained for Omotoso and it was obtained on the day he died. In response, the police counsel said he was only involved in the legal aspects and cannot say much about the investigation.
The panel consequently reiterated its order that all police officers mentioned in the process and the lawyer whose letter head appeared on the affidavit be produced before the panel and adjourned the matter till April 29, 2021 for further hearing. (Saturday INDEPENDENT)
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