How SARS Operatives Killed My Brother, Stole His N532,000
Solomon Obodehand late Benson Obodeh
Solomon Obodeh, an Nigerian entrepreneur, has recounted a number of the horrors of males of the Nigeria Police Drive.
The businessman tells ALEXANDER OKERE how males of the Particular Anti-Theft Squad of the Nigeria Police Drive allegedly killed his youthful brother, Benson Obodeh, in Benin Metropolis, Edo State, in 2015
Are you able to introduce your self?
I’m Solomon Obodeh. I’m an entrepreneur in Jos, Plateau State.
Have you ever been affected by police brutality?
Sure. I misplaced my youthful brother to officers of SARS on Might 21, 2015. His identify is Benson Obodeh. As of the time of his dying, he was a scholar and a automobile vendor.
How did it occur?
He was picked up from his home on Might 21, 2015 by officers of SARS. They (4 of them) got here into Benin Metropolis, Edo State, from Ikeja, Lagos, on the suspicion that they tracked a cellphone to a mechanic whose identify was Evans and who occurred to be my youthful brother’s mechanic that helped him restore automobiles. There was a specific automobile, a Peugeot 306, which somebody, recognized as Favour, introduced from Italy to Nigeria. Favour handed the automobile over to my brother to assist him discover a purchaser. He additionally handed the photocopies of the Customs clearance to him. The automobile was not numbered (Tokunbo). All people that had a automobile on the mechanic’s workshop was arrested.
The police got here to my brother’s place at Urora in Benin Metropolis at evening to arrest him however they didn’t meet him. Whereas he was sweeping my sister’s compound the subsequent morning, he acquired a name and was informed that the police got here to search for him and had arrested his landlord as a result of they didn’t see him. He questioned why the police have been searching for him and went to his place. When he acquired house, the policemen arrested him and began beating him. My sister was alerted and he or she went there and referred to as me on the cellphone. Whereas she was speaking to me, one of many policemen collected the cellphone from her on the floor that she didn’t have the correct to speak whereas they (policemen) have been there.
The place was he taken to?
They moved with my brother and the Peugeot 306 to the police headquarters in Benin Metropolis. I suggested my sister to comply with them, so it wouldn’t be a case of unknown policemen, and he or she adopted. After they acquired to the headquarters, they took the boy to the again of the workplace and began beating him. Considered one of them informed my sister that if she got here nearer, they would shoot her. She went to get a lawyer however when she returned, she couldn’t discover the policemen. That was when the seek for him (Benson) started. I needed to journey to Benin Metropolis however the police stated they by no means arrested any Benson Obodeh and didn’t have it of their information. His neighbour and landlord stated they noticed when he was delivered to the police headquarters, so we questioned why the police denied it. They (police) informed us he was in Abuja with the Federal SARS, however after we went there, he was not seen. They stated he was taken to Port Harcourt, Rivers State. I went there however he wasn’t there. They stated he was at Ikoyi Jail in Lagos; I went there. They stated he was at Kirikiri Jail and I went there however he wasn’t there.
What did you do subsequent?
I needed to get the media concerned and the search gained momentum. At that time, we reached out to the then Inspector Basic of Police, Solomon Arase (now retired). It was Arase who directed the then Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Fatai Owoseni (now retired), who ordered SARS to offer clarification on what actually occurred to my brother. This occurred in July 2015. It was the second-in-command at SARS, Ikeja, on the time that informed the Lagos CP that the boy (Benson) died in the reason for investigation in Benin Metropolis.
Had been you informed what his offence was?
What they stated was that his offence was armed theft; that he was concerned in armed theft. We questioned how he would have been concerned in that as a result of he drove himself to his home when he came upon that the police have been searching for him. There was no proof on the bottom to indicate that he was concerned in armed theft.
Did the police let you know what was allegedly stolen?
They stated a automobile was stolen. However after we noticed the police report, we came upon that it was stuffed with abnormalities. They have been making an attempt to cowl up the crime that had been dedicated. Assuming that he was an armed robber, why was it tough for the police to let the household know that they’d killed him? He wasn’t killed in a shootout. He surrendered himself to the police and he was killed on the police headquarters.
How do you know that he was killed there?
I performed an investigation into the matter myself as a result of I needed to get a courtroom order to print out my brother’s assertion of account as his subsequent of kin. I came upon that the boy died on Might 21, 2015. The owner that was arrested noticed when the police introduced Benson and the owner stated the policemen tied his (Benson) arms and legs to a stake, positioned blocks on his again and beat him. The owner informed his spouse that even when Benson survived, he can be a vegetable due to the extent of beating he acquired. Sadly, my brother didn’t make it. They (police) didn’t inform us the place his physique was; it was after 63 days that I came upon that my brother had died. We looked for him for over two months and the police refused to inform us the place he was, not figuring out that they’d killed him and dumped his physique on the Central Hospital morgue in Benin Metropolis. We needed to search earlier than we discovered his physique there. His corpse was registered on the hospital with a false identify, Benson Agu, and labelled him as a gunshot sufferer.
Many victims of SARS brutality allege that officers of the unit stole from them. Was that the case along with your brother?
In the course of torture, seeing that he was about to die, they collected his home key, the automobile and the N200,000 my in-law gave him to deposit in the financial institution on the day he was arrested. The SARS officers collected the cash however that wasn’t sufficient; they nonetheless collected his ATM card and the PIN. There was N332,000 in his account. They withdrew a complete of N330,000 from the account.
What is your response to the current protests by Nigerian youths calling for the dissolution of SARS and an finish to police brutality?
In reality, Nigerians have greater than a trigger to protest and I don’t suppose there’s any higher time to ask for police reforms than now. Within the course of investigating my brother’s dying, I met some cops that have been extraordinarily skilled in discharging their duties. However the dangerous ones have refused to permit the great ones to carry delicate positions within the pressure and that’s why I believe the reforms are literally essential.
Are you happy with the current dissolution of SARS?
That is only a step. FSARS is only a nomenclature. There are personnel behind FSARS. What occurs to them? The place will they go? What intention does the IGP have? What does he wish to do with the SARS officers? Is there a plan to reform them? They want reformation. They’re like outcasts now. What they want now’s a correctional programme earlier than they can return to the police pressure.
One of the calls for of the protesters is justice for the victims of police brutality. Has your loved ones acquired justice over your brother’s dying?
The demand for justice on this clime (Nigeria) is a tall order. My household has been below stress from outdoors and throughout the police to let go of the matter. 5 cops have been concerned within the killing of my late brother. They’re at the moment at a correctional centre in Benin Metropolis. We have closed our case for the previous two years for the defence to open its case. However we’re nonetheless on the State Excessive Court docket not as a result of it’s the fault of the judges. Actually, they’ve achieved properly. Some senior police officers even went to the Edo State Ministry of Justice, telling them to go away the case. In terms of justice, it’s a tall order. However Nigerians ought to proceed to talk out in opposition to police brutality as a result of it serves no good to society.S
Supply: Saturday PUNCH