Human RightsNews

Woman Tells Panel How Her Husband Died In SARS Custody

Christina Nnatuanya, a mother of seven on Tuesday narrated how her husband, late Linus Nnatuanya was arrested by operatives of the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), Awkuzu office in Anambra Southeast Nigeria and was allowed to die in its cell.

Nnatuanya who appeared before the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) sitting in Awka said her husband was arrested during a raid of their area in Ogbaru suburb of Onitsha metropolis in January 2007 without any warrant or explanation.

Her husband’s whereabout after the police raid was not known until January 6, 2008, when some residents told her how some police officers came to arrest some people in the area.

According to her, when her husband was located inside the SARS facility at Awkuzu, he was arrested and detained over an allegation that he was a member of the Movement for Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

“When I got to SARS, I told them who I was looking for and they took me to him, he was in Cell 4,” she recalled.

“The heat and stench were much and my husband was allergic to heat. So they said I should go and bring N400,000 but I did not have it. I later raised N40,000 and on getting there, they said he had been moved to Abuja.”

She was later informed of her husband’s death while in the SARS cell.

“It was one man by the name Ugochukwu Eze from Ebonyi State who was arrested with him that told me that my husband had died in SARS cell, since then, all efforts to see him or his corpse have failed.”

Nnatuanya said she has been in constant shame that there is no place she could point at as her husband’s graveyard.

Late Nnatuanya
Late Nnatuanya

“In my village, they mock me that my husband died in SARS and there is no grave where I can point at that he was buried.

If only they can show me where they buried him so that I can take the sand home for burial,” she pleaded with the panel.

Life became unbearable after the disappearance of Linus, the mother of seven told the panel and asked for compensation from the police.

She said the panel should award compensation of N50 million to her and her children to cushion the pain of the loss and that the officers who were responsible for her husband’s death be brought to book.

But in defence, Innocent Obi, a Superintendent of Police from the Legal Department of Anambra SCID said there was no record related to the matter with the police.

Obi, however, cross-examined the petitioner who orally corroborated her petition.

He prayed the panel to rule that there was no infringement on the part of the police.

Justice Veronica Umeh, Chairman of the panel said investigations would continue and report would be made available in due course on the matter.

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