By Archibong Jeremiah
A fresh controversy is brewing within the ranks of police authorities in Calabar over the death of a 23 year old shop keeper who was arrested from his work place on February 5, 2015 over allegations of armed robbery but died in police custody in controversial circumstances.
While the police say the victim died of ulcer in their custody, the autopsy carried out on the 22nd April, 2015, to ascertain the possible cause(s) of death of late Master Stanley Etim has revealed that he died as a result of ‘extensive blunt head and limb (upper and lower) injuries’ cause by torture.
The medical certificate of cause of death obtained by CrossRiverWatch was issued by the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH Calabar. It was signed by Dr. Irabor Godstime Isi, MBBS, NWACP and witnessed by Omoruyi Kemveth A. of the Department of Histopathology, UCTH.
In separate petitions obtained by CrossRiverWatch, one addressed to the Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke by the General Manager of Sparks Shopz, Mr. Stephen Peters dated 26th February, 2015 and another to the Deputy Inspector General, DIG Force Criminal Investigation Department, CID by legal counsel to the deceased twin brother, Kingsley Etim’s, Olive Chambers, Bassey, Opara-Bassey & Co dated 9th February, 2015 they both alleged that late Stanley was killed extra judicially by policemen after been accused of armed robbery.
According to the petitions, on the 5th of February, 2015 at about 3:45pm, three policemen walked into Sparkz, the office of the deceased and demanded for Stanley from the branch manager, Mr. Itoro, alleging that Stanley was involved in an armed robbery operation. Immediately he, (Etim) was handed over to them, there were startled that after handcuffing the accused, the two officers who came to arrest him pounced on him with heavy beating.
Troubled by the scene, the manager said, he immediately drove behind them to the station and after been beaten mercilessly, on reaching the station another round of beating started again until Etim passed out. According to Mr. Itoro, when he tried intervening he was illegally detained by the officer in charge of D’5, Mr. Edim Bassey.
The petitioners alleged that, the next day being a Friday they gathered that the officer on duty refused knowledge of any Stanley Etim in police custody prompting anxiety; after which they approached the O/C D’5 only to be told that Stanley took ill and was taken to an undisclosed hospital. According to Mr. Itoro, they were later to learn from another detainee that Stanley’s body had been taken to the Police Clinic for verification whether he was dead or alive.
Upon reaching the police clinic, a female doctor claimed to have certified him dead long ago.
The State Commissioner of Police, Henry Fadairo when approached denied having knowledge of such case but only a case of armed robbery at Flour Mill, Murtala Mohammed High Way, Calabar where one of the robbers was shot dead on the spot while two escaped and that he promptly ordered an investigation into the case.
In the petition the late Stanley age 23, until his death was a staff of Sparkz shop, Etta-Agbo, Calabar since 7th December, 2012. According to the manager of his work place, Stanley has been in possession of the keys to the shop since he started work with them and the warehouse has been safe and there has never been issues of theft associated with the deceased. Both petitioners challenged the police to provide any shred of evidence that will buttress their allegation or robbery against Stanley.
Both petitioners called on the State Governor, the DIG, the media and the human rights community to intervene and ensure justice is done and the killers of Stanley brought to book.
While reacting to the result of the autopsy, a lawyer among the legal counsel of the deceased family and the management of Sparkz, James Ibor, Esq. of Basic Rights Counsel, Calabar said he is happy that the autopsy has been done and his clients vindicated, adding that “We now know that Stanley Etim was beaten to death by a group of policemen from anti robbery squad D’5”.
He went on to accuse the State Commissioner of Police, Henry Fadairo saying, “The Commissioner of Police is not relenting in his efforts to frustrate this case”, urging the new Inspector General of Police to call him to order.
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