#EndSARS! Rights Group Petitions Okowa Over Naming Of An Alleged ‘Extortionist’ As Member Of Judicial Panel Of Inquiry

Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa

The group, Conference for the Actualization of Human Rights (CAHR), has rejected one of the member of 8 – man Judicial Panel of Inquiry constituted by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra –judicial killings in Delta State.

BIGPEN reports that the panel which is to be inaugurated on Monday, October 19, 2020, in the Exco chambers, Government House, Asaba, at 10: 45am, is to ascertain the validity of each case and recommend appropriate compensations or other remedies for victims of police brutality.

According to a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr Chiedu Ebie, the panel has Justice Celestina Ogisi (Retired) as Chairman and Mr Omamuzo Erebe as Secretary.

The members are AIG David Igbido (Retired), Mr Harrison Gwamnishu representing the youth, Comrade Godwin Oyovweadjebore representing students, Mr Freedom Atsepoyi representing the CSO, Ambassador Eris Jewo – Ibi representing the CSO and Mr Nicholas Osadolor representing the Human Rights Commission.

However, the rights group, in a petition addressed to the governor and copied the state Commissioner of Police, on Sunday, said that the composition of the panel with an alleged ‘known human rights violator and police soldier for extortion’ as member, has already discredited the panel before its inauguration.                                                         

The petition entitled “the Delta state Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up to investigate police brutality in Delta state is a discredit to the collective agitations of Nigerians: A demand for its reconstruction to avoid the mother of all protest” and signed by Comr. Isreal Arigbe (Secretary), Comr. (Arch.) Adjarho Jonathan (Assistant Secretary), Comr. Akpowan Uruemu Nina (Women Coordinator), Comr. Victor Ojei (Media/Publicity Coordinator), is reproduced in full below:

“We are aware the judicial panel inquiry set up by the various state governors was a clear directive from the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not a personal decision of any state governor as the nation have been engulfed in a protest occasioned by the unending brutality and extortion by agents of law enforcement agencies with the police in particular.

“Your excellency must be reminded that while the power to set up the judicial panel of inquiry must be exercised in the interest of the generality of Deltans who have actively or passively embarked in the protest to demand a complete overhaul of the police administration with the “#ENDSARS” as it slogan, only a sincere desire to address same can calm already fray nerves.

“Suffice to state, the protest have only nationalized the pains and brutality of Nigerians in general in the hands of the perceived police officers who now seem to be a victim of their own chicanery have used all available medium to extort Nigerians.

“It is unarguable that in the process of actualizing their ugly schemes of brutality that is usually climaxed by extortions, professed activist were incorporated into the scheme with particularly reference to one self-style Activist Harrison Gwamishu who have in the heydays of police brutality aided the police in their extortion schemes.

“Several victims of police extortion upon realizing the complacent of the said Harrison Gwamishu have written separate petitions to the police in this regard.

“By a petition dated the 29th of September 2020 one Peter Chidozie their solicitors Odiase Ighotegwolor, Esq. petitioned the Delta State police Command, Asaba on a case of extortion in the sum of one million naira alleged against the said Harrison Gwamishu who also criminally converted their Toyota Corolla car with Registration number APP996GD given to him when he opted to assist them recover a cash sum extorted from them by the police.

“By the said petition still pending before the Delta State police command the petitioner insisted he criminally converted the said car to his personal gains despite repeated demands.

“There is yet another case at the state command and before the Assistant Inspector General of police, Zone 5, Benin City, Edo State written against him by comrade Umukoro Efemena where he allegedly aided the police of the special Anti – kidnap, Asaba in extorting the sum of 1.1 million naira only against Mr. Harrison while acting in connivance with agent of the law enforcement.

“To have appointed this self-styled activist into the judicial panel of inquiry aimed at investigating act of police brutality and extortion is not only a discredit to the judicial panel of inquiry but a deliberate attempt to ensure the heroic achievement of our gallant youth who have actively and passively nationalized the brutality and extortion of the police is made to be in vain.

“There is no normal basis for the choice and appointment Mr. Harrison Gwamishu and should you proceed to continue with the nomination/ inauguration of the judicial panel of inquiry with Mr. Harrison as a member, you shall only be promoting an ethnic agenda contrary to the demand of the people.

“While we do not have information on the integrity of other member of the panel, an inference can be drawn from your choice of Mr. Harrison, we shall therefore as a people and group not be part of any process aimed at frustrating and rendering futile the achievement of the gallant youth of Delta State.

“It goes to show the panel is only a medium of rationalizing a decision already reached before hand with the appointment of Mr. Harrison as a panelist to sit to investigate a system he superintended over.

“Mr. Governor you are playing with the sensitivity of Deltans but do not forget the people are no longer afraid but angry. May this insensitive decision not snowball into another avoidable protest”.

Meanwhile, all effort to reach the said Harrison Gwamishu over the petition against his appointment were unsuccessful as of the time of filling this report.