A chief superintendent of police, Danjuma Ochejeh, on Wednesday, denied leading a police attack on Odekpe community of Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State on April 24, 2020 and killing one person in the process
The police officer appeared before the Independent Investigative Panel which was set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to probe complaints of rights violations and acts of brutality committed by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police tactical units.
The 11-man panel sitting in Abuja and led by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Suleiman Galadima, was set up in response to last year’s #EndSARS protests against SARS and all forms of police cruelty.
A statement by NHRC’s information unit about the panel’s Wednesday’s proceedings stated that Mr Ochejeh was fingered in the complaint filed by some members of Odekpe community concerning the alleged attack on the community.
Led in his evidence-in-chief by the lawyer to the Nigerian police, Joseph Nwadike, Mr Ochejeh told the panel that he did not know anything about the alleged attack.
He said he convened a peace meeting at Mongo Park Hotel in Delta State where some leaders of warring communities of Odekpe and Ala communities were present.
He told the panel that “he made a personal sacrifice by bearing the transport fare of some of the attendees of the meeting in his bid to ensure peace reigned”.
The police officer said “he preached peace to the parties at the meeting”.
He conceded that he was serving as a police officer in Delta State, while the Odekpe and Ala communities, where he was intervening were in Anambra State.
Mr Ochejeh also admitted that he was from Ala community which was locked in a land dispute with Odekpe community.
He also said “he did not know Mr Aboy let alone knowing the circumstances that led to his death”.
He added that he was not aware of a reconciliatory meeting between the warring communities at Ugbolu community in Delta State.
“During cross-examination by the petitioners’ counsel, E.C. Egwuatu, the respondent stated that he did not know anything about the alleged ambush of Chief Peter Ikechi and Peter Ekwealor (deceased),” the NHRC statement stated.
Mr Ikechi was one of the petitioners who filed the complaint before the panel.
Mr Ochejeh also told the panel that “he did not at any time issue orders or threats to anybody at the meeting he convened at Mongo Park Hotel in Delta”.
The panel adjourned till May 3 for continuation of defence by the police.
Mr Ikechi and other complainants, in their petition, had accused the police of “death in police custody, arbitrary arrest and detention, unlawful use of firearms resulting in extra-judicial killing and abuse of office.”
They alleged that Mr Ochejeh and officials of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT) caused the death of Aboy Okewu during their attack on Odekpe community of Anambra State on April 24, 2020.
In his testimony before the panel, Henry Ugwujede said Messrs Ikechi and Ekwealor (now deceased) had represented the Odekpe community at a peace meeting brokered by the Anambra State Government to settle the land dispute between the community and Ala/Onugwa village where Mr Ochejeh hails from.
The witness said Messrs Ikechi and Ekwealor were returning from the reconciliatory meeting on Thursday, June 11, 2020, “when Mr Ochejeh led officers of IGP-IRT to arrest the men and Mr Ekene Okona and later tortured them in detention”.