A Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr. Isaac Melai says no officer assaulted or has hand in the death of one Miss Ifeoma Abugu who died in police custody in September last year.
Mr. Melai is the first respondent in the case of alleged extra-judicial killing of Miss Abugu before the Independent Investigative Panel on alleged Human Rights Violations by the defunct Special Ant-robbery Squad SARS and other units of the Nigeria Police Force.
Mr. Isaac Melai informed the panel that, last year, a case of criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide involving three suspects was transferred to the Special Anti-robbery Squad, from the state Criminal Investigative panel, FCT command for proper investigation.
Mr. Melai said the case was assigned to him and that upon investigation, one of the suspects, Idaho Lucky confessed to the crime revealing that one Kaycee Afamefula was their gang member and supplier of illicit drugs to them.
According to him, on the 10th of September last year, himself and his team, comprising an Inspector of Police, Elemali Ngbede and a Police Sergeant, Ezekiel Ngbede went to Afamefula’s house in Mba Village, Lokogoma, a satellite town in the FCT, with the intention to arrest him but only met his fiancée, Ifeoma Abugu who was in possession of variety of illicit drugs.
He said Ifeoma was arrested and taken to the station. But on arrival, she kept requesting that she wanted to defecate and after a while, she started vomiting and he had to rush her to Maitama General Hospital where a senior nurse confirmed that she was dead.
Mr. Melai said not satisfied with the report of her death, he took her to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada where she was also confirmed dead by a doctor and her corpse deposited in the mortuary.
He told the panel that there was no truth in the autopsy conducted by the head of the Pathology Department of the hospital, Dr. Ahmed Abimikun that the deceased might have been assaulted and suffocated to death.
He said there was no single bruise on the body of the late Ifeoma Abugu when she was deposited in the mortuary.
The Investigating Police Officer, IPO who probed the death of Ifeoma Abugu in Custody, Mr. Ibe Eko informed the panel that after taking statements from all the respondents in the matter and a visit was also paid to the scene where the deceased was arrested and afterward the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, he requested the service of another pathologist from the Federal Medical Center, Abuja, Dr. Achuzi to interpret the autopsy report.
Mr. Eko said Dr. Achuzi simply gave the cause of death as aestivation which contradicted the earlier report by the Head of Pathology Department, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Dr. Abimikun.
When asked during cross examination whether or not he saw any bruises on the body of the late Ifeoma in the mortuary, he answered in the affirmative as against the earlier testimony by the first respondent, Mr. Melai.
Indicated officers on national assignment
Another case of alleged disappearance of one Mr. Morris Ashwe slated for defense could not be heard as the indicted officers and the head of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response team, Mr. Abba Kyari were not present at the panel.
Though records by the Police Liaison officer to the panel, Mr. Sunday Okedi showed that they had been communicated, Counsel to the Police, Mr. James Idachaba told the panel that he was reliably informed that the officers where on national assignment and could not be pulled out.
The representative of the Nigeria Bar Association on the Panel, Mr. John Aikpopko-Martins described Mr. Idachaba’s excuse as untenable arguing that the police were deliberately crippling the work of the panel.
The Chairman, Justice Suleiman Galadima who equally expressed worry over the failure of indicted officers to appear before the panel, particularly, indicted officers under the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response team, and its leader, Mr. Abba Kyari, adjourned the matter until the 29th of next month for confirmation and close of defense.
Justice Galadima also maintained that the earlier order that the police disclose the whereabouts of Mr. Morris Ashwe still subsisted.