More revelations have emerged about the atrocities of the defunct Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) in Anambra, South-East Nigeria as families of victims continue to testify at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) set up to investigate cases of extrajudicial killings and police brutality.
One of those who testified before the panel was Emmanuel Iloanya who said he raised over N27 million from the sale of three landed properties including where he buried his second daughter to secure the release of his 20-year-old son, Chijioke who was arrested on November 29, 2012.
Iloanya said unknown to him, his son was dead but Police officers, human right activists and other intermediaries fleeced him of his money with a promise to assist him to secure freedom for his son.
He said his son was arrested at a naming ceremony by policemen from Ajali Division who refused to allow his wife to bail him but later transferred him to SARS facility in Awkuzu the next day.
The distraught father disclosed that he got the shock of his life and when James Nwafor, the Commanders of SARS Awkuzu then told him and his wife that his son had been ‘wasted and nothing will happen’.
He said the death of his son was painful but it would have been comforting if he saw the corpse of his son and buried him himself, even as he insisted that his son was not dead yet.
“At Awkuzu, they denied to have arrested him but on our second visit I saw my son at the SARS gate in chains and handcuffs,” Iloanya said.
“When my wife asked him what he did not say anything but just gesticulated that nothing.
“Suddenly, James Nwafor, the Commander of SARS rushed out of his office and started harassing us, pushing my wife. I went to Bala Nassarawa, the commissioner of police who assured me that my son will not die.”
“The CP summoned Nwafor but he did not answer him, so he said I should wait after Christmas. To my surprise, the CP told me my son died during a gun duel with the police. I said no, that I was here and he (CP) assured me nothing will happen to him.”
He told the panel how the then SARS Commandant that his son was wasted.
“When I saw Nwafor he said ‘ I am sorry to tell you that your son has been wasted, you cannot do anything get out from this office” and my wife collapsed,” Iloanya narrated.
“I sold properties, three properties for N12 million, N8 million and N7 million. All these I spent in the bid to secure the release of my son but they were telling me lies when they knew my son was dead.”
He lamented that a graveyard where had buried his late daughter two years before the incident was among the properties he sold to secure the release of his son.
“I sold it because of this matter, I sold the land where I buried my second daughter,” said Iloanya who insisted that all he wanted is justice.
“I have spent what this panel can give me, I want justice, let the government bring these policemen here to tell me what my son did,” he said.
Abdul Mahmud, a human rights lawyer who appeared for Iloanya told the panel his client had credible evidence against Nwafor including his Tweet where he admitted that he was the commander when Chijioke was murdered.
Mahmud said the panel should subpoena him to appear and respond to the allegations against him personally.
Innocent Obi, a Superintendent of Police (SP) who appeared for the police said he needed time to respond to the issues raised and his application was granted by the chairman of the panel, Justice Veronica Umeh.