…demands N1bn compensation
A lawyer, Mrs. Hannah Michael-West, has disclosed how the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) allegedly killed her 27-year-old brother, Solomon Yellowe, and deposited his body at the mortuary of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH). She spoke while testifying before the Rivers State Commission of Inquiry into police brutality and human rights abuse by the Nigerian Police. Micheal-West, who testified on behalf of her father, Chief Daodu Yellowe, said the police neither admitted arresting Solomon nor disclosed they had summarily executed him. The petitioner demanded N1 billion compensation to the family.
She said Solomon was arrested by SARS operatives on March 13, 2019, which was the last time family members and friends saw him alive. This, according to her, forced the family to make a complaint of a missing person at the SOS, behind Government House, Port Harcourt.
She said: “As part of investigations, police said they were tracing 12 mobile lines, and we were asked to pay N50,000 each of the 12 telephone lines they wanted to investigate.” Michael-West added that after making that payment, they were asked to pay between N20,000 and N50,000 at various times to aid the investigation. However, according to her, more than one year after Solomon’s killing the police are yet to avail the family of their findings.
She said: “Apart from the N50,000 they collected for each of the 12 phone numbers they claimed they were investigating, we were paying, N50,000, or N20,000 any time they called us up.” According to the petitioner, six weeks after Solomon’s disappearance, the family got a tip-off that his body had been deposited at the UPTH. She said: “On April 26, we went to the UPTH mortuary and found the name of my younger brother on the UPTH registry deposited about 1.38pm by officer Samuel Sunday of SARS, Rukpokwu.
The said officer also paid N10,000 before depositing the body.” Michael-West said the family had to pay another N300,000 for an autopsy to unravel what killed her brother who, before the unfortunate incident, never had any trace of ill-health. She said: “The autopsy report showed that my brother died of brain swelling.” According to her, following a petition to the Inspector General of Police (IG), Muhammed Adamu, the family was invited to Abuja, but was asked to pay for flight tickets and accommodation for four officers who would investigate the matter in Port Harcourt. Michael-West told the panel that the family rejected the condition.
She added: “Those who killed my brother should be brought to justice. They must be made to pay for their crime against my family.” Earlier, Mrs. Gladys Imegu, counsel to the state Commissioner of Police, Joseph Makun, said she was never served the petition by the petitioner and therefore was not prepared to comment on the case. However, she had earlier objected to some of the documents that were tendered as evidence before the panel. The panel Chairman, Justice Chukwunenye Uriri (retd), adjourned the matter till December 1, 2020 for cross examination and continuation