The Anambra State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality, Extra-Judicial Killings and other Related Matters has said it would invite Ex-governor, Peter Obi or anyone indicted by petitioners to appear before the panel and also give testimonies.
The Chairman of the panel, Justice Veronica Umeh was reacting to the testimony of a petitioner, Bonaventure Mokwe who had accused the former governor of rash actions following SARS reports.
Appearing before the panel, Bonaventure Mokwe claimed he was arrested and tortured by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and his hotel demolished by the governor over alleged involvement in kidnapping activities.
Mokwe filed a five-page petition to the panel and is also demanding a public apology from the state government for being branded a kidnaper and kept in SARS custody for 81 days without any charges against him.
During his testimony, Mokwe said he in SARS custody for three months and later became an insider, and also witnessed most of the gruesome killings perpetrated by the police unit, and was ready to open up on their operations.
“Since we are talking about SARS and all their atrocities, I think this panel can give me the opportunity to say most of the things I saw, which happened at SARS, just to help us unravel the level of destruction they were into.
“I stayed there long enough to know the workings of SARS and also where they derived their powers to act the way they did, especially SARS under James Nwafor.”
Chairman of the panel while addressing Mokwe said the panel had terms of reference and that asking the state to apologize to victims was not part of them.
She, however, asked the petitioner to file an additional petition covering other testimonies he intends to give about SARS operations while assuring that anyone who is indicted in a petition would be invited.
“We cannot entertain testimonies that are outside what you filed in your petition. If you want to file an addendum, we will give you time. Be rest assured that all the people you are mentioning would be duly invited by this panel,” Justice Umeh said.
Mokwe who later spoke to journalists related the incident that led to the demolition of his hotel said, “The whole thing was a setup. Somebody lodged in room 102 of my hotel and in the morning, SARS came and found a human skull in the room. I bet you that SARS didn’t come to check who the man was or how the skulls got there, they just came to uncover the planted exhibit and destroy the hotel because they did not ask for the name of the lodger who brought in the skull.
“I know it was a setup. The then governor, Peter Obi had converted Ose (motor) park to Onitsha Park, giving Onitsha people the right to collect levies there. Mokwe Park (his park) is beside Ose Park. So when transporters who use Ose park felt the fee they were paying to Onitsha people were much, they came to my park to do their business. Onitsha people were not happy with me. It was just two weeks after that the skulls were planted in my hotel.
“On the same day, without any form of investigation, my hotel, which was built in 1973 was demolished. I have evidence that the bulldozer that was used to demolish my hotel was paid for, two days before the incident and demolition. So, how did they know skulls were going to be found in my hotel if they were not planted?
“James Nwafor (former SARS boss) did not just come from Ebonyi State and start killing people, they were people who gave him the latitude under which he operated, and we are ready to reveal them.”
But reacting on behalf of Obi, the former Anambra Commissioner for information, Barr. Joe Martins said the point to note is that the former SARS boss, Nwafor was a very junior officer when Obi was governor, and could not have had any form of relationship with him (Obi).
He said Nwafor did whatever he did as a police officer posted to Anambra State and that Obi did not hire him as an aide nor even know him personally.
“The allegation that SARS derived its powers from the governors is a complete betrayal of one with a mission. It confirms the information that some people have been heavily suborned to use the platform (panel) to play the game of vendetta.
“We knew when they were invited to Abuja and we have information on what transpired. Who in Nigeria does not know that the clamour for state police is because governors have absolutely no control over the police as presently constituted? It is all attempts to smear Obi. It has always failed and that the present “last dance” will equally come to nought.”