Lawyer petitions IGP, NASS, others over prolonged police detention of Benue indigene

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

An Abuja based legal practitioner, Barrister NAPOLEON OTACHE has petitioned the Inspector General of Police, the National Human Rights Commission, The PRESIDENCY, The National Assembly and other numerous agencies over the indefinite detention of a 43 years old BENUE man, Bernard Ogbu.

Our findings revealed that Mr Bernard Ogbu hails from IGUMALE COMMUNITY in Ado Local Government Area of BENUE State.

Mr Bernard Ogbu has been languishing in the custody of the policemen of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, for over three years without trial or bail.

Barrister NAPOLEON OTACHE narrated that the operatives of the defunct SARS led by one ASP Felix Onoja, stormed Bernard Ogbu’s residence in the New Nyanya area of Nasarawa State on March 3, 2019, and arrested him and he has been in police detention till date.

Thereafter, the policemen reportedly took Ogbu to the SARS detention facility in Abuja where his family members visited the following day to inquire the reason for his arrest.

Bernard Ogbu’s younger sister, Mrs Comfort Ogbu, was reported to have said that while she was speaking to her 43-year-old brother at the SARS’ detention facility, the detainee cried over the alleged torture meted on him by the SARS operatives.

The aggrieved sister also said Bernard Ogbu appealed to her to mobilize all the family members to do everything possible to secure his release, adding that her brother’s wife died in the struggle to secure his release from custody.

In the petition dated 25th August, 2022 written by Barrister NAPOLEON OTACHE, It was stated that “In the midnight of March 3, 2019, the operatives of the defunct SARS led by ASP Felix Onoja, broke into the Bernard Ogbu’s house at New Nyanya, Nasarawa State, and arrested him.

“His plasma television set, home theatre electronics, set of chairs, boxes, clothes, Opel Astra car and other personal property were also taken away by the policemen.

The petition further stated that “The following day, Bernard Ogbu’s sister visited the detention facility of the defunct SARS and she was referred to meet with ASP FELIX Onoja at the abattoir, Guzape, SARS’ detention centre, Abuja.

“she was only able to exchange greetings with her brother through the keyhole of the detention cell. Bernard Ogbu cried out and pleaded with his sister to look for money to secure his release because he was going through unbearable torture in detention.”

In the petition, Barrister NAPOLEON OTACHE quoted Comfort Ogbu when she asked ASP FELIX Onoja the reason for Bernard’s arrest, all he could say was that Bernard committed an offence and demanded N5m from her to secure his release.

She said, “We have not been allowed to see him since March 4, 2019. Whenever we visited the SARS’ detention facility to ask for him, the policemen usually chased us away.

“When the SARS was disbanded due to the nationwide protest, we made several attempts to see my brother but to no avail. His wife died last year of depression caused by Bernard Ogbu’s continued detention. She left four young children behind.”

Barrister NAPOLEON OTACHE stated that Bernard’s sister and other family members are greatly worried over the long police detention of Bernard Ogbu as they may not know whether the detainee is in good health condition.

The victim’s family lawyer, Barrister Napoleon Otache, said the police detained Bernard Ogbu without disclosing any criminal allegation against him, adding that efforts to make ASP FELIX Onoja admit the detainee to bail or charge him to court proved abortive.

Barrister Napoleon Otache said, “My client (referring to Mrs Comfort Ogbu) and her family members have made repeated attempts to even see Bernard Ogbu but none yield any efforts till date. The policemen manning the gate usually chase them away after hearing the name of the person they came to see”. Other lawyers who were sent by the family members to visit Bernard Ogbu in SARS’ detention were also chased away at the entrance gate.

“Also, ASP Onoja has been threatening my client for demanding the whereabouts of her detained brother or the car and any other property seized from his house.”

Barrister NAPOLEON OTACHE stated further that: “Based on advice, our client wrote a complaint letter to the current commander of the Intelligence Response Team but we have not heard anything.”

The petition dated March 28, 2022, urged the IRT commander to intervene so her brother could be charged if he had acted against the law.

PUNCH NEWSPAPER reported that the International Coordinator, Advocate for People’s Rights and Justice, Giwa Victor, said the police had no right to detain Bernard Ogbu for that long without charging him to court, adding that the victim’s lawyer and family members were entitled to know the offence he committed.

The PUNCH NEWSPAPER also reported that it contacted the Force Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi and he urged Bernard Ogbu’s family to write to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, on the matter.

“Kindly, tell them to write to the IGP. The matter would be followed up,” Force PPRO, Adejobi said.

The Commander, IRT, Tunji Disu, when contacted by the PUNCH NEWSPAPER regarding the petition written by Barrister NAPOLEON OTACHE on the Bernard Ogbu’s continued detention and torture, the IRT commander promised to investigate the matter.

He said, “You know I was not here in 2019. I will investigate the matter. Tell the lawyer (referring to Barrister Napoleon Otache) and the lady to come over and assist with information that would help us do our investigation.”

In the petition written by the Barrister NAPOLEON OTACHE and seen by this media establishment, the renown Abuja based lawyer is soliciting the intervention of the PRESIDENCY, the National Assembly and and Inspector General of Police other agencies to purge the Nigeria Police Force of bad eggs so as to restore the hope of the Nigeria citizenry in the crime fighting and prevention mandate of the Police.
Barrister NAPOLEON OTACHE is calling on all the well-meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of the Bernard Ogbu’s family in order to prevail on the Police authority to urgently do the right thing in the matter.

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