Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt
A witness in the ongoing Panel of Inquiry into alleged acts of violence, torture, brutality, murder and violation of fundamental rights of citizens committed by Officers, men and operatives of the Nigerian Police in Rivers State has told the Panel how he lost his 3-day old baby to stray bullet of the defunct SARS operatives in Port Harcourt.
According to the witness who identified himself as Nordi Sylvanus, residing at number 9 Honourable Close, Rumuaholu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State,the unfortunate incident that led to the death of his only child occurred right in his bedroom that fateful day.
He told the Panel that on 15/8/2014, he woke up in the morning only to find out that a bullet believed to have been fired by SARS officers pierced through the roof of his house and hit his 3-day old baby girl lying on the bed, killing her on the spot. He said the incident was a fallout of sporadic shooting by SARS officers around their neighbourhood throughout that night.
Sylvanus said attempt to reach the authorities of then SARS at their base in Rukpokwu the next day was rebuffed by SARS Officers at the gate who ordered him to go back, or risk being given the same treatment with his late 3-day old baby.
Under cross examination, Counsel to the Commissioner of Police, N.N Nwaeke dismissed the claims of the Petitioner, describing it as cooked up to smear the image of the police. She equally faulted the bullet presented as evidence by the witness, insisting that the bullet was unexpended. The Presiding Judge however admitted the bullet as exhibit.
Another Petitioner, Lucky Ezu narrated how he was battered by SARS operatives at Ahoada, in Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State for daring to intervene in a faceoff they had with a pump-attendant, whom they accused of under-dispensing petroleum products.
Ezu said he has spent huge amount of money in several hospitals to treat the terminal injury he incurred on his right ear during his encounter with the alleged SARS officers.
He pleaded with the Panel to prevail on the police authorities to compensate him with the sum of N20m to enable him continue with his treatment, which he abandoned due to lack of money.
Counsel to the police faulted his inability to officially report the matter to any police station at the time of the incident.
The Presiding Chairman of the 7-man panel, Justice Chukwunenye Uriri rtd. adjourned the matter to 30/11/2020 to enable the petitioner to produce more witnesses to backup his claim.
Also testifying, one Tamunodiepreye Nkalalugbo who said he is a Pipeline-Welder accused SARS operatives of killing his 14year old son, Emmanuel during the #EndSARS protest in Port Harcourt.
Counsel to the Commissioner of Police, N.N Nwaeke while cross-examining Nkalaugbo said it is ridiculous to accuse SARS officers of killing anybody when the protest was against SARS and they were not there at all. She urged the Panel to dismiss the claim.
Hearing continues till 30/12/2020.