One Mr. Okechukwu Jonnah had expressed fear before the IPP-SARS Panel that his brother Obinnah Jonah must have been killed by police when the case was part heard in November, a witness on the invitation of the panel revealed how the late obinna Jonnah died in police custody.
The witness, Abbah Onoja said it all happened in January when he was arrested with his friend Chizoba Samuel at a friend’s house in Karmo, a suburb in the FCT, over an allegation of belonging to a cult.
Onoja told the Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd) led panel that late obinna and several others were later arrested the same day after his (Onoja’s) arrest over the same allegation. He said they were all tortured to admit that they were cultists.
According to Onoja, the severe beating received by Obinna must have resulted in his death because Obinna was unable to walk after the severe beating so he has to offer him support to manage his condition.
Speaking further, Onoja said,”We were later taken to police command, when we go there, obinna could not walk again, I was the one who held him he could not also talk again when he was asked some questions, the officer in charge who was asking the questions began to severely hit obinna with his baton saying he was not ready to talk.
Recounting the stress late Obinna went through in the hands of the police, he said they were later moved to the popular SARS detention center in abattoir for further investigation.
On getting to abattoir, Onoja said one DSP Jumbo who seems to be the head of the place instructed that obinna should be dropped.
“He was kept in the cell and by the next morning he was dead, the inmates were asked to bring his corpse”. Onoja insisted that obinna was in a good state of health when he was arrested.
Earlier, another witness Joseph Akinola informed the panel that he was present at the mechanic workshop as at the time Obinna was arrested and taken away by the police operatives on the day of the said arrest.
According to him, SARS operatives came to the workshop under the pretext that they wanted to repair their vehicle and when Joseph stepped forward to undertake the job, they specifically requested for Obinna. And when Obinna appeared they forcefully took him away, however before they left, one of the SARS men dropped their number with Joseph.
Continuing, Joseph said that when the family members of Obinna called the phone line given by one of the police operatives who arrested the victim, the person who answered the call identified himself as a road safety officer.
Out of curiosity, Obinna’s family members went to Jabi-Mabushi police station possibly to ascertain the identity of the person who said he is a road safety officer and to unravel the whereabouts of their missing son, Obinna.
In view of this development, the panel requested that Police through the FCT Command should provide the Officer-in-Charge of Operation Anti-One Chance and all the personnel of the anti one chance unit in Jabi on February 9, 2021 to enable the panel arrive at an informed decision in the matter.
In his response, the Police Liaison Secretariat for the panel and a member of the police legal defence team, Fidelis Ogwobe assured the panel that efforts will be made by the police to get the name of the Officer-in-Charge of Anti-One Chance and other members as requested by the panel.
Meanwhile, the police legal defence team led by James Idachaba said that they cannot cross examine the witness until they carry out the necessary investigations into some of the statements made by the witness.