A woman has cried out to the Independent Investigative Panel on allegations of human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigerian Police sitting in Abuja, as she testified how her younger Brother, Emmanuel Awulu was tortured to death in custody by officers of defunct SARS.
The petitioner, Joy Daniel, elder sister to the late Awulu told the panel that one Inspector Atuma Cletus and other SARS officers tortured her brother beyond recognition and killed him in the process at the SARS headquarters.
Led by her counsel, Uche Uwazuruonye, the deceased, a poultry farmer, was arrested on August 20, 2019 by Insp Atuma at about 2.00am in Gwagwalada area of Abuja and was taken to SARS office in Abatoir.
Joy informed Garba Tetengi, who represented the Chairman of the panel, that immediately her brother was taken into custody, he was denied access to his family, and all efforts to see him, including submitting herself for a various form of extortion by the police proved abortive.
Narrating Emmanuel’s ordeal, the sister said her brother was a promising guy and never involved in any criminal activities as a farmer and an engineer.
“At my first visit to see my brother, there were different gates leading to the SARS office. I was made to pay N1,000 at different gate each time”
“I went there on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, even Monday”
“I later protested that why are they giving preferential treatment to others, that I was made to pay N1,000 each time and could still not catch a glimpse of my brother. They later reduce my payment to N500 and the payment continues. The most painful thing was that I still could not see my brother”.
“At a point, I was cautioned by different source in SARS to be mindful of how I go about demanding for my brother, that the people I am dealing with are more deadly than I could imagine.”
“I was told that Cletus bears a special name tantamount to that of death itself, and ready to kill anybody who dares him”
Expressing her many frustrations, the complainant laments the heartlessness of the men of SARS. She narrated how SARS operatives did not stop at money extortions in a bid to have access to her brother, but also developed an attitude of consuming all foods she or other relatives brought to him on pretext they used to deliver the food to him, unknown to them that Emmanuel Awulu was no more.
Joy added that another source told her in SARS office that her brother could not even walk with his legs due to the extreme torture and beatings received from Inspector Atuma Cletus and his cohorts.
Corroborating Joy Daniel’s testimony in a separate interview with newsmen, another elder brother of Emmanuel Awulu expatiated how Inspector Cletus demanded for the sum of N4million from him when he eventually set his eyes on the SARS officer.
“The first day I was there, Inspector Cletus Atuma asked me for the sum of N4m, which I asked him pointblank, where can I get such amount from?
“I later gave them N8,000 to buy drug for my brothers when need be,” he said.
On how the family got the hint that Emmanuel Awulu was dead, Francis explained that after a series of scheming and manipulations by men of SARS, two of his brothers decided to confront the SARS head-on that they must see Emmanuel, which led to the intervention of the Officer-in-Charge (OC SARS).
“It was at then the OC SARS revealed to us that our brother is dead.
He said the arrest was not even documented in their office.
“The whole thing was an illegal arrest”, he stressed.
The complainant added that the matter eventually got to the ACP, who later confided in the family that the issue must be thoroughly investigated and justice must be served, and according to him the promises yielded no fruit.
“But in as much that we are fighting for justice, up till now, neither the Police nor the CP has told us the cause of our brother’s death asides the autopsy that review that my brother died as a result of two deep injury sustained”, Francis narrated.
According to the family, Emmanuel’s body was later released to them and has since been buried.
In its response, the Police Counsel raised no objections to the family narratives.
Meanwhile, the visibly distraught petitioner said it was on August 26, 2019 that the family members were informed of Awulu’s death.
Mrs. Daniel pleaded with the panel for compensation from the police for being responsible for Awulu’s death, saying he had six dependants. She also prayed the panel to ensure that the perpetrators of this inhumane act be punished.
The matter has been adjourned to March 17 2021 for further hearing.