NHRC panel lambasts police over failure to produce two SARS operatives despite order

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) independent investigative panel on allegations of human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units on Wednesday lambasted the police for their failure to produce two operatives of the defunct SARS in Awkuzu, Anambra State despite its two previous orders.

The 11-man panel, therefore, expressed its disappointment with the attitude of the police in complying with its production order to produce the two police officers, Mr Obiazo and Mr Uzo Emeana, over their alleged involvement in the arbitrary arrest and detention of one Mr John Emeka Alozie, who is said to be missing for the last three years.

The panel expressed its displeasure at the resumed hearing of the petition filed before it by Mrs Nnenna John Alozie, on behalf of Mr John Emeka Alozie alleging arbitrary arrest and detention and forced disappearance of the said Alozie.

The chairman of the panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima (retd), held that the police had acted with impunity by making excuses rather than complying with the panel’s order made separately twice to produce the officers before it.

The panel’s anger against the police followed the observation by its lead counsel to the panel, Chino Obiagwu SAN that its order for the production of Obiazo and Emeana before the panel on December 15, 2020, and February 2, 2021, respectively was yet to be complied with.

The senior advocate further informed that up until now the two officers were yet to report to the panel.

According to him, the IGP’s liaison officer to the panel, Cosmas Anyanwu, had earlier promised that he would ensure the production of the two SARS operatives before the panel.

Obiagwu told the panel that the complainant confided with him that the Force Headquarters had established a prima facie case against the said officers and was preparing to prosecution them.

Responding, lead counsel for the police, James Idacha, that the counsel assigned to handle the matter for the police, Godwin Ijeoma, had retired, while Cosmas Anyanwu, who promised to produce both Obiazo and Emeana before the panel, had been transferred to Calabar, Cross River State.

Idachaba told the panel that his legal team did not have access to the case file, saying that this posed a challenge as it related to the production of the two police officers before the panel.

He then informed the panel that the matter was slated for defence and cross-examination of the complainant, Mrs Alozie, by the police.

While adjourning the petition to November 10, Justice Galadima declared that by the next adjourned date a final decision on the matter would be taken if the police failed to produce the said officers.

He then specifically directed the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Anambra state Commissioner of Police to quickly give effect to the production order of the panel to enable it to arrive at an informed and just decision concerning the allegations made against the policemen.

He then directed the panel’s lead counsel, Obiagwu (SAN), to make his own findings of the said plan by the Force Headquarters to prosecute some of the respondents in the matter instead of relying on the information given to him by the complainant.

Tribune Online reports that the panel had previously stated that the two police officers were necessary parties in unravelling what actually transpired between the police and the victim, John Emeka Alozie, who was alleged to have been unlawfully detained by the police for a long time without prosecution before a court of competent jurisdiction.

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