The Independent Investigative panel on violations of rights by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has ordered the Nigerian police to release the body of a youth corps member, Ifeoma Abugu Stella, a victim of an alleged extrajudicial killing, to her family for burial.
The chairman of the panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima (retd), gave the order at the resumed hearing of the panel on Wednesday, February 24. The Chief Pathologist of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada, Abuja, Dr Ahmed Abimiku, who appeared before the panel, presented the autopsy report on the cause of her death.
The family of the deceased had petitioned the panel in a petition marked 2020/IIP-SARS/ABJ/82, alleging the extrajudicial killing of late Ifeoma, inhuman and degrading treatment against DSP Melai Isaac, Inspector Enlemali Agbede and Sergeant Ezekiel Agbede, the officer in charge of FCT SARS, the FCT Commissioner of Police and the Inspector-General of Police.
The police had in September 2020, gone to raid her boyfriend’s home on an allegation that they were involved in drug trafficking, When they couldn’t find her, the police arrested Ifeoma and later informed her family that she died of a cocaine overdose.
Testifying before the panel on Wednesday, the pathologist, Dr Abimiku, who conducted the autopsy on late Ifeoma, informed the panel that the body was brought to the UATH for post-mortem two weeks after death and that an autopsy carried back negative for cocaine overdose.
“I asked them, was she taking or selling but they said nothing. When urine test was conducted to ascertain if it was an intake of cocaine that led to her death, it all showed negative,” Dr Abimiku told the panel.
He further told the panel that in the course of carrying out the autopsy, dried sperms were noticed in her vagina of the deceased, adding that it was not clear if the sperms were from sexual assault while in police custody or from her fiancee since they were living together.