How SARS officer killed my brother, refused to release his corpse, witness tells NHRC panel
An elder sister to a man allegedly killed by an officer of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) today narrated how her brother died in the hands of the Squad and the officer’s refusal to release the corpse for burial.
The sister, Mrs Doris Idedia, told the independent investigative panel on SARS and other police units set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), sitting in Abuja, that her brother, Felix Idehen, died on September 6, 2016, in the custody of SARS.
Narrating what led to the death of her younger brother, Idedia stated that on September 3, 2016, they were all together at their residence in Kaduna and she was cooking noodles for the deceased to eat when at about 5 pm he received a call from his wife’s younger sister, one Onyekachi Sunday.
“As he went to the junction with his car to pick his brother-in-law because he relocated from where he was staying before, he saw a Golf car chasing him. He thought it was kidnappers so he accelerated and veered off to another route.
“Yet the occupants of the Golf car were still chasing him. At a stage, my brother came out of his car and started running to avoid being caught.
“Throughout that day, a Saturday, we did not see him again. My mother said we should wait till Sunday to make a report at the police station,” she told the panel.
She added that on the following day, his brother’s wife received a call from an unknown number and she (Idedia) picked the call only for the caller to inform that her brother was in the hospital.
According to her, on getting to the hospital, they saw the deceased in bandages all over him with injuries, adding that her brother narrated what happened to them.
“My brother informed me that he was running, Inspector Kingsley started shouting thief, thief and mobilised people to catch and beat him to a pulp. As of that time, Kingsley was not there.
“He said Kingsley accused him of stealing the car he (deceased) was using. My brother said he did not steal the car but bought it from Onyekachi, his in-law. Onyekachi also confirmed that he was the one who sold the vehicle to my brother.
“Kingsley was angry when he came and saw us and asked if he told us my brother was there. “My mother told him that it was someone who called her and told her that they saw her son in the hospital.
“Kingsley then said they wanted to take my brother to Abuja for treatment. My mother and the doctor treating him protested that they could not take him in such bad condition as he was but Kingsley insisted on taking my brother to Abuja.”
She further told the panel that her brother while being taken to Abuja was dumped face up in the police vehicle with no cloth to cover him, adding that it rained that day and the deceased was seriously drenched that day.
Idedia alleged that on reaching Abuja, the SARS operatives did not take her brother to the hospital as Inspector Kingsley promised, but took him to the SARS cell instead.
She said despite several calls her mother placed on the number Kingsley gave her, he refused to pick the calls only to call on September 6, 2016, the day Felix died, asking that they should come to Abuja.
“When I came to Abuja, he had already died by then. I didn’t see my brother. It was the nurse taking care of him at the cell who informed me that my brother really suffered a lot in the cell, that he didn’t eat anything and was not taken to any hospitals for treatment,” she said.
She further said that the nurse then pointed to a vehicle in which her brother was, adding that when Kingsley saw her, he asked that she should join the vehicle.
“Kingsley asked me to enter the vehicle, that my brother was being taken to the hospital. I called my brother by his name but he did not answer me.
“We took him to the police clinic but they refused to accept him, saying he was dead but Kingsley insisted that he was alive and said we were going to Asokoro General Hospital.
“When we got to Asokoro, they could not take my brother out of the vehicle. The doctor came to see him in the vehicle and said he was brought in dead. He pointed to the mortuary and said we should go and deposit the corpse there,” she said in tears.
The petitioner told the panel that after her brother’s death, the family asked Kingsley to release the corpse for burial but he refused.
“He refused to release the corpse to us, saying that if he released the corpse, we would go and make a case,” she stated.
She informed that she made several efforts, including visiting the Inspector-General of Police, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, writing a petition to the Senate President among others to ensure that her brother, who she said was the manager of IMAX Furniture in Kaduna, got justice.
“My brother suffered a lot. From that Saturday to that day he died, he did not eat anything. He was supposed to be in Canada; he had proceeded with his visa,” she said.
Asked what she wanted, Idedia declared that the family wanted compensation of N200 million.
Counsel for the respondents, Godwin Ijioma, told the panel that there was the need to get in touch with the first respondent, Inspector Kingsley, who he said he did not know his surname, with a view to knowing the true situation of things.
He, therefore, sought an adjournment.
Based on this, the panel adjourned the matter till December 15 for cross-examination of the petitioner.