When six policemen were on a routine patrol two years ago in Nasarawa State, little did they know that they would soon land themselves in a self-imposed mess. The mess was devastating enough to cost them their jobs and subsequently land them in the cell.
On January 6, 2012 in New Nyanya area of the state, six policemen – Inspector Danladi Lelika, Inspector Odua Eketo, Sergeant Vincent Manu, Corporal Christopher Maikasua, Corporal Musa Audu and Corporal Samson Mago, were on a patrol to protect lives and property. But the mission went sour when one Stephen Anakwe, a dog breeder in Jos, was allegedly shot dead by the team.
As if that was not enough, acting on the report from the patrol team, few days later, the police paraded the corpse of the defenseless civilian, branding him a suspected criminal. Infuriated by the allegation, a younger brother to the deceased, Mr. Stanley Olisa, petitioned the then Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, and other authorities about the injustice and the criminality.
The six officers, as gathered by Daily Sun, are presently cooling off their heels in the police cell in Makurdi, Benue State. Following the killing, an investigation panel was set up under the Criminal Investigation Department. The report revealed that the policemen had questions to answer before the court of law. The force authorities, therefore, ordered their immediate dismissal.
Mr. Stanley Olisa told the reporter: “On January 14, 2012, a lady called me from Jos that my brother had a problem with the police in New Nyanya, Nasarawa State. On January 16, I went to the place and I made inquiry from residents of the area and they told me that my brother was beaten up with his right eye plucked out. They said he was picked up alive from the scene by six policemen on January 13, 2012, handcuffed and taken to the station in a police van while another policeman drove Stephen’s red Toyota car along.
Mr. Stanley said he expressed disbelief and shock when he was informed that the police later paraded his brother’s corpse a few days later with a twist that Stephen was a suspected armed robber and had been killed at the spot.
“My lawyer and I rushed down to the New Nyanya Police Station, Nasarawa. We saw his car and met the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO), who told us that my brother was a suspected armed robber. The DCO explained that as his men were approaching my brother, he pulled out a pistol from his car, pointing it at a corporal, a situation that forced a sergeant among them to shoot my brother dead. I saw the story as a fabrication.”
As reported by Daily Sun on December 31, 2013, Mr. Stanley vowed to get justice over his late elder brother’s death, especially due to the mystery that surrounded the death.
“My lawyer asked of the corpse but was told that it was buried the same day that it was paraded. The lawyer queried the action, asking why the corpse was not deposited in a mortuary and why the police did not bother to reach the family through his mobile phone, his vehicle particulars and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card. The DCO denied ever seeing any of those documents, a story that was repeated by the station’s Divisional Police Officer (DPO).”
He continued: “We left and immediately petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Minister of Police Affairs, Chairman of Police Service Commission, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Director General of State Security Service (SSS), among others. “The former IGP, Hafiz Ringim, responded two days later to the petition. We were later called over to the Police Command Headquarters, Lafia, Nasarawa State. The investigation was about to start when a message came that the case has been transferred to Zone 4, Makurdi, Benue State. The policemen asked me to hire a vehicle that would convey other police officers from Lafia to Makurdi that very day. With inconvenience, I went to source money to hire the vehicle to convey the police officers, my lawyer, the witness and myself to Makurdi. We arrived Makurdi at 11:30pm that day. Investigation began the next day by officers in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).”
He said he was funding the investigation process, but he did not mind. Having received permission from the police, he went further to exhume the corpse which was almost beyond recognition. His mission was to find the cause of his brother’s death.
He said: “I got men from Benue State, who charged us N150, 000 to exhume the corpse. Also, we bought shovels and chemicals for the exhumation. At a point, my friend and I had to join in the exhumation process because two of the five boys could no longer endure the odour and had to leave. When we brought out the corpse, the head had gone off because of the injury my brother sustained in the hands of police officials. I could only identify him by his feet.
“It was the clothes that he was wearing that kept the body in form. We got an ambulance, which charged N50, 000 from the cemetery to Keffi General Hospital Mortuary, where we were told that the corpse had decomposed beyond what the mortuary could handle. The ambulance driver referred and drove us to his friend – a mortician- at Uke General Hospital, Uke, along Abuja Road. The mortician asked us to deposit N50, 000 to keep the corpse. He later charged us N180, 000 to preserve the corpse. Because there was not enough money with us, we made part payment to the mortician and the ambulance driver halfway. The CID officers came back to Abuja under my bill. I was the one that paid their hotel and food bills for the four days that they stayed.
“The autopsy was done by a pathologist from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Health Service Asokoro District Hospital, Abuja, at the cost of N450, 000. The autopsy report showed that my brother was shot from the back and that he was handcuffed.
“We later went to Makurdi where we applied for permission for police to release the corpse for burial. A corona was signed by the Court of Appeal before we were granted the authority to bury the corpse. On February 11, 2012, I left with the corpse to my state at the cost of N50, 000 and it was buried on February 14, 2012. The police wanted me to fund the ballistic analysis, which I refused at the time.”
He stated that the autopsy confirmed that his late brother was shot from the back, adding that there was no trace of bullet shattering his car. He described the allegation of Stephen being shot while in the car as empty.
When Daily Sun spoke with the former Assistant Inspector General (AIG) in charge of Zone 4, Makurdi, Mr. Michael Zuokumor, he said: “Well, there are lots of cases before us here. What we do in this place is to play advisory role over the Commands, and the Commands are manned by Commissioners of Police. But, if there are complaints, we look into them to ascertain if injustice has been done to anybody.
“Police duty is to ensure safety of lives and property. Police should not be part of killing but, mind you, they carry guns because at times, in trying to make peace you need some form of force. But, if the police did not do it in a way they ought to do it, we look into it and if anybody is found guilty, the person will be dealt with according to law.”
Mr. Stanley recently told our correspondent that the police confided in him that the men had been dismissed from the force. His words: “They have investigated the matter and for now, the policemen have been dismissed. They showed me the dismissal letter, but what they are delaying now is to go to court.
“So far, I would say that the police have done well. But dismissing them is not enough. They must pay for the crime they committed, according to the law. As you know, it is only the court that can give verdict of any punishment that befits them.”
He said his mission was to make sure that the death of his brother brought a revival to the police force. “Certainly, my late brother can’t come back to life but it will serve as a lesson to others and possibly prevent them from being overzealous with the rifle. Believe me, many might have been killed in the past without bringing the culprit to book. We cannot continue in that light. My mission is to prevent other innocent Nigerians from losing their lives in the hands of an institution that is supposed to be protecting them.”
Confirming the dismissal, former Provost, Zone 4 Makurdi, Umar Mohamed in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said the step was to hold all police officers accountable for their actions. He maintained that any officer that runs contrary to statutory responsibilities would be dealt with according to law.
According to him, the report from the team of Criminal Investigation Department showed that the officers were found wanting in connection with the murder of Stephen Anakwe. He said an immediate order was given from the police authorities that the six men be dismissed and sent to the cell.
Hear him: “I am fully are aware of the case. By the grace of God, the dismissal is part of the ongoing transformation agenda of the police force. It is true that those six policemen have been dismissed, as you may be aware. We are now waiting for the case to be taken to court.
“In fact, after the investigation, the police authorities resolved that they were found guilty and based on that, we dismissed them.
There is also an order that they should be charged to court. The next step now is for the police to take them to court. As we speak, they are right in the cell in Makurdi. Formerly, l was in Zone 4 as the Provost, that was when we tried the officers but right now, I am in Benue Command.”
The late Stephen’s father, Mr. Emmanuel Olisa Anakwe from Anambra, said the death of his beloved son had devastated him. He said: “I am not happy with the police on how they killed my son. What else can l say? My son is dead and l am sad and the pain becomes stronger whenever l am reminded of my hardworking son.
“Nothing could have made my Stephen go into robbery. He was a responsible son, doing well with his business in Jos. His character was okay, a well-behaved boy. It’s not because l am his father. Dismissing the police officers that killed him is good but it is not enough. So far, we have spent so much money in exhuming the corpse and burying him. The family needs to be compensated for all these losses.
“I am using this opportunity to thank The Sun newspaper for a job well done, for standing by the truth.”
Stephen’s best friend, Mr. Moses Oguche said: “Stephen was a bosom friend, although l may not want to go into the details of our friendship because it will always make me cry like a baby. It feels so painful that Stephen was killed in such manner. He had been a good and genuine friend. He was the first child of his parents just as l am the first child as well.
“I know him to be somebody that will always stand for truth and justice. He even took people’s problem on his shoulder. I almost collapse when they called me that Steve was dead. The police cannot deny it that my friend was killed unjustly because many people witnessed the incident. “Because of the incident, l had to postpone my traditional marriage because Stephen was supposed to be my best man. Before his death, he was fully into the business of selling Alsatian dogs and God helped him in the business that he cannot think of stealing. In fact, l can vouch for him that he cannot go into robbery.
“More than ten people said the killing happened in their presence. The story that the police earlier gave us completely conflicted with that of the eyewitnesses. The mum usually calls me and l do sense the burden and pain in her voice. I believe the case is not one that should be swept under the carpet. Though the parents are poor and helpless but with this development, the hope of getting full justice is brightened.”