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Police Brutality: Police Produces Complainant After One Year Detention Without Trial

Following an order of the Independent Investigative Panel on human rights violations by defunct SARS and other units of Nigerian Police, the Police on Thursday produced Raphel Tersoo Toona, who has been in detention for over one year.

Prior to Toona’s production before the panel by the police, his counsel, Mike Utsaha had expressed fears about the condition of his client and had therefore pleaded with the panel to compel the police to produce him as earlier ordered by the panel on December 14, 2020.

Before the production order was obeyed by the police, the panel chaired by Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd) had stood down proceedings in the matter insisting that the police must carry out the panel’s order of producing complainant.

When the panel reconvened, police liaison officer to the panel, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Cosmas Anyanwu who promised to produce Raphael did the needful and presented the complainant (Raphael) before the panel.

The chairman of the panel commended the ACP for keeping to his promise and urged the police to cooperate with the panel to arrive at justice in all the cases.

The police had also told the panel that Moses Mfe (2nd complainant) whom it claimed was also an armed robbery suspect like Raphael died at University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, where he was admitted for treatment.

Counsel to the Nigerian Police, Fidelis Ogwobe revealed for the first time the death of Moses Mfe (2nd complainant) whom he noted was arrested together with Raphael (1st complainant) in Benue state as armed robbery suspects.

According to him, in the course of investigations into the allegations of armed robbery against Moses and Raphael, the former fell sick and was taken to Police Hospital, Garki for treatment.

He got better and was discharged on November 19, 2020, and was taken back to police custody in Abuja, the police counsel added. The Police defence lawyer, however, stated that Moses later fell sick again and the police took him to University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada where he allegedly died.

However, he informed the panel that an autopsy was ordered by the police on the deceased body, and that the result of the autopsy is yet to be released to the police to ascertain the cause of his death.

As a follow up, Ogwobe stated that the Police instructed Sergeant Godfred Odoh to visit the UATH, Gwagwalada to confirm whether the autopsy result is ready

On the whereabouts of Raphael (1st complainant), as requested by the panel, the police counsel said that he was remanded in Suleja Correctional Service by an order of a magistrate court.

Earlier before Raphael was brought to the panel, his counsel, Mike Utsaha had pleaded with the panel to ensure that its earlier order on December 14, 2020, to produce his client is obeyed by the police.

According to him, the panel had on the said date ordered the police to produce the two complainants (Moses and Raphael) today (December 17, 2020) before proceeding further to unravel why they have been kept in detention for over one year.

Alternatively, the complainants’ counsel had prayed the panel for an order directing the police to release Raphael on administrative bail pending when the panel will resume in January 2021, pointing out that today (Thursday) is the last sitting for this year.

He stated further that Raphael has not been charged with armed robbery before any court in Nigeria and therefore ought to have been released by the police conditionally or unconditionally.

The Chairman of the panel had affirmed the order for production of the suspect made on December 14, 2020, and directed the police liaison officer to the panel, Cosmas Anyanwu to produce the surviving complainant, Raphael since Moses is dead as announced by the police.

The panel ordered that Raphael be taken to a court of competent jurisdiction on or before 23rd of March 2020 for immediate bail to be confirmed considering the fact that he has been in prolonged detention.

The matter was adjourned to March 2, 2021, for a continuation of hearing.

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