The #EndSARS panel set up to investigate cases of police brutality in Abuja, on Monday, issued arrest warrants against two police officers who have several times shunned its summons and orders.
One of those summoned police officers is the commissioner of police in charge of legal services at the Force Headquarters, Ogbeh Ochogwu. The other is an inspector a police officer, Shunku Terhermber, attached to the Bwari Police Division in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The panel, chaired by Suleiman Galadima, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, ordered the arrest of the two police officers who are wanted in respect of different cases.
Mr Terhermber, attached to the Bwari Police Division, in Abuja, had been earlier summoned through the head of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Makinde Ola.
He is named as a respondent in a case of unlawful arrest, detention and seizure of properties of Michael Uzoagba.
Mr Uzoagba, the complainant, claimed that Mr Terhember, along with other officers, invaded his shop sometime in 2020. He said the invading police officers questioned him about his son’s whereabouts.
He said after he informed them he did not know where his son was, they took various electrical appliances from his shop, loaded them into a waiting police van, and drove away.
At Monday’s hearing, Police lawyer, Fidelis Ogwobe, told the panel that he visited Bwari Area Council, to inform Mr Terhermber of the the panel’s summons against him, but failed to show up.
“The panel in this circumstance could decide to proceed in the absence of the Inspector Terhember in line with the Administration of Criminal justice Act (ACJA), having been given the opportunity to defend himself and he failed to take advantage of such opportunity,” Mr Ogwobe added.
A member of the panel, John Aikpokpo-Martins, stated that it was necessary to compel Mr Terhember’s appearance.
The panel chairman, Mr Galadima, then issued a warrant of arrest against Mr Terhermber. The panel ordered that he be produced on April 27, 2022.
On his part, the commissioner of police in charge of legal affairs at Force Headquarters, Mr Ochogwu, is wanted by the panel in respect of a case of alleged unlawful arrest, detention and enforced disapearance of John Emeka Alozie.
Mr Alozie is said to have been missing from police custody since June 25, 2017.
The police officer had failed to honour several orders of the panel directing him to appear with the case file of the victim. The panel had adjourned its sitting at the instance of Mr Ochogwu five times.
Ordering the police officer’s arrest on Monday, the panel chairman, Mr Galadima, said his attitude was unbecoming of a lawyer and officer of the police force.
The panel adjourned the petition until 27 April for progress report, according to a statement by NHRC’s officer in charge of public affairs, Fatimah Mohammed.
Nnenna Alozie, the suspect’s wife, told the panel how her husband had been arrested since 2017 and had never been released or charged in court, despite a high court order for his release.
According to her, the police refused to comply with the order, and instead, said the suspect had died during interrogation.
With the revelation from the police, she said, the court in its judgement delivered on July 16, 2018, ordered that the police release the corpse of the victim to the family.
Almost three years after the judgement was delivered, the police have yet to comply with it or the earlier court order, Mrs Alozie had said.
She filed her petition at the panel to seek the enforcement of the court judgement.
Police lawyer, James Idachaba, had, on March 30, 2022, in his final submission, urged the panel to stay off the case because, in his view, further investigations into it would amount to reviewing a court judgement that had already settled the case.
He said the matter had already been settled by a court of law and that it was up to the petitioner to seek enforcement at the court.
Asking the panel to stay off the case, the lawyer said the petitioner should rather explore the court’s “procedure” for enforcement of such judicial decisions.