Human RightsNews

Police Admitted My 15-Year-Old Son Died In Their Custody, Man Tells Panel

Joseph Ezeonu whose 15-year-old son allegedly died in police custody in 2010 has told the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) in Awka, Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria that the police confirmed to him that his son died in their custody.

Ezeonu told the panel on Tuesday that Kelechi Ezeonu, his son, was arrested and killed in police custody on July 4, 2010.

He informed the panel that Kelechi was arrested by local security operatives who alleged that he was a thief.

According to him, his son was arrested by the police over alleged involvement in a robbery case with one other suspect.

The petitioner disclosed that when Kelechi returned home from Onitsha where he was living, the security operatives arrested him and handed him over to the now defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

He said that was the last time he set his eyes on him again adding that all efforts to look for him including a search of all SARS facilities in Anambra did not yield any result.

The petitioner tendered a letter from the office of Inspector General of Police (IGP) dated May 16, 2011, and signed by ACP Muritala Mani, which confirmed the arrest of Kelechi and one other suspect, Osondu Nwankwo.

The letter stated that the duo was arrested in connection to an armed robbery and they had confessed to the crime.

JPI Anambra
JPI Anambra

According to the IGP letter, Kelechi was wounded in a crossfire for which he was rushed to a hospital and later certified dead on August 11, 2010.

“The IGP is aware of the grief this might have caused the families of the deceased and the Police officers wounded in the process, he appreciates your call for a thorough investigation in order to unravel the truth,” part of the letter read.

However, a distraught Ezeonu said the police must provide answers to the questions about where did the shootout occur, what is the name of the hospital he died and where is the location.

The petitioner also demanded the name of the medical doctor that certified his son dead as well as the Corona inquest on his death.

Ezeonu demanded that the policemen responsible for the disappearance of the boy be identified and prosecuted, adding that adequate compensation is paid to the family and that his Honda C75 motorcycle is released.

Ezeonu was represented by David Umeobika, a lawyer at the panel.

Innocent Obi, a Superintendent of Police who represented the Police Command in Anambra said he needed to study the petition as he did not see a copy of the petition before the sitting.

The application was granted byJustice Veronica Umeh, Chairman of the panel.

Umeh said the police should respond to the case and all others heard with their verifying evidence on or before November 24.

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