How Nigeria police tortured me while pregnant — Woman tells panel

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Nzube Obiechina, a school teacher who lost her two-month-old pregnancy during police torture in Lagos, was arrested to aid the capture of the alleged kidnapper, Chukwudi Dumee Onwuamadike, also known as Evans.

A police counsel said this during Tuesday’s sitting at the judicial panel of inquiry in Lagos.

Nosa Uhumwangho, a counsel representing the Intelligence Response Team, a unit of the Nigerian Police, also told the panel that the victim is related to the alleged kidnap kingpin.

He told the panel that Mr Onwuamadike was the victim’s brother and her phone number was one of the numbers linked to a kidnap allegedly carried out by Evans.

Mr Uhumwangho however denied that the police tortured Mrs Obiechina despite a judgement of a Federal High Court and Appeal Court in favour of the victim.

Background

Mrs Obiechina approached the Lagos Judicial Panel on October 31 to seek enforcement of a N2 miliion judgement of a Federal High Court in her favour against the Nigerian Police.

She, alongside her husband, Okwuchukwu Obiechina, also sought redress at the panel against the torture, abuse and unlawful detention they faced in the hands of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS).

She told the panel that the officers that arrested her said they were acting on the orders of Abba Kyari, the leader of Inspector General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT).

Mrs Obiechina said the police tortured her, kept her in an open cell, denied her food and water for days despite knowing that she was pregnant.

“I was two months pregnant, they were beating me, I was urinating on my cloth, they said they will kill me,” she said.

The victim told the panel that she spent 22 days in police detention and lost her pregnancy following the torture.

Mr Obiechina was also detained alongside his wife and they were both tortured and brutalised by the police.

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The couple urged the Judicial Panel of Inquiry to enforce the judgment of the Federal High Court and payment of N2 million damage by the police force.

Victims related to Evans — Police Counsel

Mr Uhumwangho, the legal counsel to the IRT, while cross-examining the victims on Tuesday, said they were arrested because they were related to Evans and they were helpful to his arrest.

He told the panel that no summon was served by the panel, either to the FSARS or the Commander of the IRT, Abba Kyari, but rather to the Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Yaba.

“I heard it through media and publications that my office was indicted. Service was not made,” he said.

He told the panel that there are different formations of the police and there is a distinction between the Lagos state command and his office.

He however said he will be representing the IRT at the hearing and accepts that he has now been served.

Mr Uhumwangho said Mrs Obiechina was arrested on June 5, 2017, contrary to the date she told the panel and she only spent five to six days in detention according to police record.

Reacting to the claim, Mrs Obiechina reiterated that she was arrested in June 2, 2017 but was made to write a statement after spending three days in detention, adding that she spent 22 days in police detention.

When asked whether she knew anyone with the name Evans, Mrs Obiechina said she has no idea who Evans is, but identified Chukwudi-dumee Onwuamadike (popularly called Evans) as her brother.

Mr Uhumwangho told the panel that one of Evans’ kidnap victims reported to the police and when a technical investigation was done on the phone number of the person that collected the ransom, the couple’s phone numbers came as frequently called numbers by the suspect, which was why they were arrested.

He further questioned the victims on their relationship with Evans and what transpired at the police custody, including how Mr Obiechina was re-arrested because be visited Evans in prison and was part to the removal of a ‘fuse’ from the truck owned by Evans.

The counsel, who presented several documents to the panel, was cautioned for dragging the panel behind by questioning the victims on a matter that has already been decided by two courts; the Federal and Appeal Courts.

Dorris Okuwobi, a retired judge heading the panel told Mr Uhumwangho to stay within the confines of the petition of the victims to the panel which are; torture and illegal detention and not drag the panel into police investigation of Evans.

“Counsel, you need to look at the complaint, it is of illegal arrest, torture, police brutality and et cetera. All of those are intact,” Mrs Okuwobi said, adding that the victims complained of the police not obeying court order.

In response, Mr Uhumwangho said it is the infringement of the victim’s right which was decided by the court and damages awarded.

Mr Uhumwangho further said that the allegation that they were detained for 22 days is not true.

“I’m establishing that it is not 22 days, it is five or six days. This is in the document presented.

“The was an allegation of torture, I want to establish that there was no torture. You were never tortured, you were kept behind the counter because you were soft targets,” he said.

Following the inquiry of the panel on compliance of the police to the payment of compensation, Mr Uhumwangho said the police will obey the court order.

“We will comply when we see the order of the court. Court has given judgment, they have means to enforce the judgment, they should pursue it,” he said.



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