I was locked in SARS cell next to a shrine, witness tells panel
A witness, Godwin Ukude, arrested by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Tusday, narrated before the Delta State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Police Brutality and Ex-judicial Killings, the sequence of events leading to the disappearance of Counsellor Ikporo arrested in August 2019.
Counsellor Ikporo was last seen on August 2019 after he was allegedly arrested by SARS team alongside the witness and another victim.
Recall that Counsellor’s father, Christopher Ikporo, had lodged a petition with the Delta Judicial Panel of Inquiry on police brutality about his missing son.
Ukude, a bricklayer, said that on August 8, 2019 after close of work he was arrested by a SARS team alongside Counsellor and another friend and taken to SARS office at Issele-Azagba in a black Lexus jeep where they were beaten with rods.
Ukude identified the SARS team leader as Ijeogu, a native of Agbor and described him as a light complexioned officer with a white beard who walked with a limp
Ukude said the bungalow where he and his friends were incarcerated was next to that a shrine, adding that goat meat was served to inmates in the night every day.
His words, “It was not a police station. In the bush behind SARS office was a shrine. At 1.00 a.m every night, goat meat is brought to us. I didn’t partake in the eating because I suspected it was used as rituals.”
He said many exotic cars were parked in the compound, adding that in the cell many internet fraudsters were kept.
He said the team leader shot Counsellor at SARS office on his leg after Counsellor protested their innocence.
He said the SARS team dispossessed him of his Infinix Hot 6 while Counsellor’s two phones and money were also taken away and never returned.
Ukude said he parted with N70, 000 as bail to secure his release.
He said he told Counsellor’s father what happened, but resisted attempts to lead Counsellor’s father to SARS office because he had been warned never to divulge what happened to anyone.
He said, “On our way from work on 8, August 2019, we saw people running towards us along Ezenei road and I told Counsellor that we should run, but he resisted, insisting we had not committed any offence. As soon as the SARS team saw us, we were arrested and taken to SARS office. When we got there we were hung upside down and beaten with roads. I can recognise some of the SARS operatives.
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Continuing, “We were at SARS office for four days, but at night they took Counsellor and the other boy away. That was the last time I saw them. The police told me I have a strong spirit or else I would have been taken along with them. After payment of N70, 000 – I was set free and warned that I will be killed if I divulge what transpired in the cell.
Counsel to the respondent, Mr. F.M Odunna while cross-examining the witness told the panel that the 8th August when the trio arrested, adding that that date was a special day because it was the day cult groups such as eiye and black axe in Delta initiated members.
Chairman of the panel Justice Celestina Ogisi (retd) adjourned the matter to 16, November for continuation of the matter.
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