Over time I have followed keenly to see how the Nigerian Police and government of Cross River State will handle the case of extra judicial killing of Derek Maurice Ben alongside 5 others between 16th and 17th April 2014 by a group of 14 policemen attached to the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS Police Headquarters in Calabar
The 14 policemen have been indicted and recommended for trial by a reputable panel of officers of the force from the zone 6 command. The pace of development in the case is stomach irritating; I was happy at first to know that the policemen were indicted by the investigative panel and detained.
I was also happy that the 11 junior officers (Sergeant Anthony Idoko, Inspector Gershom Isotu, Corporal Edidiong Jeremiah, Inspector Erienekpe Fineman, Sergeant Anyim Gregory, Sergeant Lawrence Egbe, Sergeant Okili Akpokabowei, Corporal Okey Oyama, Corporal Unyime Jumbo, Corporal Atan Michael, Corporal Patrick Kokei) involved were dismissed duly with the three senior officers (Supol Raphael Ewa, Supol Etim Anoke, DSP Horsefall Minafuro) still awaiting disciplinary action from the Police Service Commission, Abuja.
Just when we were about to salute our police after learning that the indicted officers were to be arraigned in court on the orders of the Assistant Inspector General, AIG of Police Zone 6, Mr. Mark Adamu Idakwo, we were shocked when he could not enforce his orders but rather succumbed to the threat of violence by the dismissed policemen who refused to appear before a court of law.
This dereliction of duty by the police clearly points to the suspicions that the police have been seriously compromised as usual and leaves families of the victims with pelted hopes of getting justice which is on the verge of been denied.
Take a good look at this case: these men were hatchet policemen who through their heinous actions, numerous persons have been allegedly victimized and either killed, detained and/or imprisoned. These men are a threat to humanity and creation, they are a threat to their fellow policemen also as I have come in contact with many other police officers, even of higher rank who feel a deep relief at the indictment of this notorious gang of policemen.
From reliable sources it was learnt that the AIG caught one of the sacked policemen’s wife inside the cell with him in company of his lawyer, which got him infuriated and sparked the order for the OC Legal to prepare their charge for arraignment the next day. The guards on duty that faithful day were also severely disciplined, it was gathered.
The powers conferred on the police to enforce the law and bring criminals to justice in a competent court are being challenged by the crude tactics of the killer policemen.
The police, particularly the AIG in charge of Zone 6 must prove that the police still have the powers and can indeed bring criminals to justice unless it is true that those particular set of policemen are more powerful than the AIG Zone 6 as being speculated.
If the AIG is superior, those men will not threaten to kill anyone who enters their cell to force them out for arraignment in court and that will not become an added charge!
Yes! many people have been bundled and forced to court on this same order, why did the threat by the killer policemen deter their arraignment if not weakness or compromise?
Most shocking for me also is the revelation that even in their cells where they are detained; they have access to their mobile phones, a privilege which other detainees are denied. They still make calls to threaten people and make pleas from the comfort of their cell, they chat on social media platforms right from their cell. What then are the rules to play by and why can’t the right thing simply be done on this case I humbly ask?
The Cross River State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Attah Ochinke also recommended prosecution of the suspects after the police investigative panel made their result available to him; one wonders why he has also failed to press for expedited prosecution of the matter.
This case ordinarily should be used to serve as a deterrent to other killer policemen and also as an avenue to restore lost hope in the government and law enforcement agencies. The amount of evidence available is overwhelming but the relevant authorities seem to lack the will to expedite action on the matter.
In a society where the weak fail to get justice from the courts and security agencies, citizens are easily lured by the allure of self help. With the festive period under way, this case stands as a threat to the peace of the season because it will scare fun lovers from coming to the most peaceful state in the country where policemen who are supposed to protect are the ones now killing and trading the corpses of victims yet, they are pampered because of loyalty to politicians.
The University of Calabar, UNICAL whose student and staff are involved in this matter have also not openly taken any action targeted at getting justice on this matter.
The way the case is going I strongly feel the plan is to let these killer policemen go free as some of their family members have been boasting unless men and women of goodwill rise up and add their voices to this call for justice to reign.
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