By Martin Opara
The chicken has finally come to roost and the bubble has burst, as report of the Presidential Panel on the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) and Police Reform has given credence to the crescending public outcry, as it indicated that Imo State recorded the highest number of extra judicial killing and confirmed cases of abuse, torture and violation of the right to life, closely followed by Abuja.
The report which indicted 35 police operatives in 12 states and the FCT for various atrocious acts, including extra judicial killings, death in police custody, unlawful arrest, compromised investigation, unlawful intimidation, harassment, criminal assault, torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment, threat to life, extortion and questionable confiscation of property, among others, said, 16 of the 35 indicted officers were accused of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearance in 5 states, the FCT, and Imo State where 7 of the 16 accused officers operated with reckless abandon. The four other states, according to the report are, Lagos, Kaduna, Delta and Enugu.
The panel’s report which was recently submitted to the Inspector General of Police and the Police Service Commission, at the heat of the protests, after it was submitted to the presidency some months ago, said, the officers indicted for extra judicial killings, among other allegations in Imo State, are ASP Columbus Aniozor, Inspector Nwachukwu, Inspector Ndidi Nwaneri, Inspector Femi, CSP Godfrey Ogbede Victor (OC SARS, Imo) ASP Banjoko (OC SARS, Akokwa, Imo State) and Corporal Echara Alice.
The panel, in addition to the confirmed cases of extra judicial killing, ordered for further investigations into nine of such cases in Imo, Benue, Kara, Kogi, Lagos and Rivers States.
Recall, that there had been several complaints by victims of police brutality, torture, intimidation and harassment by operative of SARS in Imo State. Some of them, including students of tertiary institutions in the state severally narrated their ordeals in the hands of SARS operatives who often arrested them on alleged trumped up charges and compelled them to withdraw money from POS operators to secure their release. Some had their laptops and cell phones unlawfully screened again their wish.
Some of them who expressed delight at the unfolding developments in the country said, “we thank God that justice is gradually catching up with these sons of darkness”.