The Independent Investigative Panel on allegations of human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigerian Police on Tuesday told the Police to get ready to respond to a complaint of alleged abduction and enforced disappearance of a young boy, Elijah Tanko of Bwari Area Council of FCT.
Chairman of the Panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima ordered the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to ensure that the Police were properly served with the petition brought by the mother of the missing boy, Mrs. Esther Tanko before November 30 to enable them study the facts of the complaints and respond to the same accordingly.
The panel made the order despite an objection raised by the Police counsel, James Idachaba, that the supporting documents attached to the letter of complaint had no nexus to the body of the petition.
He had further submitted that the Police would not proceed to cross-examine the complainant when according to him, there was nothing to suggest the names and details of persons connected to the matter.
However, the Chairman of the panel ruled in favour of the National Human Rights Commission whose counsel, Chino Obiagwu (SAN) earlier told the panel to go ahead and listen to oral testimonies of the complainant whom he noted “is an indigent woman, who is struggling to pay her transport fare to the panel” and therefore should not be allowed to go without opening her testimonies concerning the poor victim.
Thereafter, the visibly worried mother of the missing boy, Esther Tanko, took time to narrate before the panel how a woman, whom she identified as Chioma came and took away her son, whom she was then taking to a clinic for a medical attention, in the company of an unidentified man since 2019.
Led by Counsel to the NHRC, Frank Tietie Esq., she told the panel that after a long while and following her complaint to the Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, she later heard that her son was in the custody of SARS in Abuja and that she quickly went there to confirm that her son was actually with SARS..
She lamented that she had not been able to have her son back despite several efforts she made with the support of her husband, other relatives and their Church Pastor to rescue him from SARS.
Besides, she narrated how SARS officials told her to go for DNA test to determine the paternity of the boy in question as two other women were also claiming to be the mother of the same boy.
She stated that she informed the Police that she did not have money for the DNA test and a Senior Police Officer, Abba Kyari of the IGP’s Intelligence and Response Unit (IRT) promised to defray the cost of the test on her behalf.
Asked about the result of the DNA test, she told the panel that the result was not made known to her till date.
According to her, while she was waiting to be called by the Investigating Police Officer, (IPO) Desmond who promised to call her for the result of the test, the Police rather informed her that another set of women numbering eight were also laying claims to the same boy.
She said that when she insisted that the result of the DNA test should be disclosed to her, the Police allegedly told her that the Medical Doctor that conducted the test got confused about the result of the test.
Continuing, she told the panel that the Police also informed her that plans were underway to send the result of the DNA test to Lagos state for confirmation.
When the Chairman of the panel asked the complainant the whereabouts of her son at present, she said that the Police informed her that he was in an orphanage.
The panel admitted documents including the abducted boy’s certificate of birth issued by the National Population Commission, his non-polio vaccination card and his photograph as exhibits.
The panel adjourned the matter to November 30, 2020 for continuation of hearing and ruled that the complainant was at liberty to bring the remaining witnesses if she so desired on the adjourned date.
The panel also adjourned the case of alleged extra judicial killing of Alexander Ameh Ogbu to November 30, 2020 for all the counsel involved in the matter to find out if the subject matter before the panel was the same as the suit filed before the FCT high court by the complainant.
In the same vein, the panel adjourned complaint of alleged threat to life brought by Mr Bello Akubuokwu to December 2, 2020 for continuation of hearing.