A man, Vincent Chukwu on Tuesday narrated before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters how his cousin, Basil Ejiagwa allegedly died from injuries sustained from torture by officers of the disbanded police unit.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Chukwu gave evidence on behalf of the petitioner who had allegedly succumbed to his injuries on November 17 while undergoing care in Imo.
The witness said that Ejiagwa was a trader at the Alaba International Market and was arrested on May 2014 at the Igando area of Lagos by police officers from the Igando Police Station.
“He spent five days at the Igando Police Station and while he was there, a hammer was used to break his legs.
“He was then transferred to the office of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Ikeja. While he was there, they hit his head several times with the butt of a gun.
“He spent nine-days at SARS and was released on May 31, 2019. At this time, he could not walk anymore and could not remember certain things.
“He couldn’t even remember that he had placed an order for the importation of some goods,” he said.
Chukwu said his cousin was initially taken to El-Shaddai Hospital in Igando, but he was rejected and referred to the Igando General Hospital.
“From the results of the hospital, they said the use of gun butt on his head made him to lose his memory.
“At the time, he had injuries all over his head, the brain tumour did not start immediately,” he said.
Chukwu said his cousin initially could not physically function properly, but had become slightly better.
He said Ejiagwa had in 2017, instituted a court action against SARS at the Federal High Court Lagos.
He said on April 16, 2019, N40m damages was awarded by the court against SARS in Ejiagwa’s favour.
Chukwu, however, noted that before the judgment was delivered, his cousin’s health had taken a turn for the worse and he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
He said that the family had also been unable to receive the N40 million damages awarded by the court from the police.
“I appeal to the panel to help the family recover what the judgment had given to us.
“When the tumour became bad, he was taken out of Lagos to the East for treatment because when you look at him, you will see a different person.
“He, however, died exactly a week ago on November 17,” he said.
The counsel for the petitioner, Olalekan Gazali tendered a copy of the Federal High Court judgment and hospital receipts worth N1million to the panel as exhibits.
Earlier during proceedings, Gazali had told the court that Ejiagwa had sustained several fractures which eventually developed into a brain tumour.
“All his money was spent in the treatment of the tumour,” he said.
Reacting, the lead counsel for the police, Joseph Eboseremem questioned Gazali’s allegations about the circumstances of Ejiagwa’s demise.
“My lord, note the way my learned friend is cooking up allegations saying he died because of torture.
“We have not been served with the petition. If they have the petition, they should serve us,” he said
The chairman of the panel, retired Justice Doris Okuwobi noted that it was not Gazali’s position to categorically state the petitioner’s cause of death because the panel was on a fact finding mission.
The matter was adjourned until December 4 for cross-examination.