The Oyo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police brutality, on Thursday, summoned Police officers that handled the case of an Ibadan-based trader, Kehinde Omotoso, who died in custody in July 2020, after being arrested by police officers from Iyaganku, Ibadan, for an offence allegedly committed by his nephew.
The panel also ordered the Oyo State Hospitals Management Board to locate the corpse of late Omotoso as the police in its process before the panel claimed that the corpse of the trader was deposited at the morgue of the General Hospital, Ring Road, after he gave up the ghost.
It further asked the lawyer whose name appears on the letter attached to the affidavit to appear before the court to explain who briefed for the job after the family called two witnesses, Jelili Rasak and Sekinat Yusuf.The family’s witnesses were led in testimony by their counsel, Toyese Owoade from the chambers of Afe Babalola.
In his testimony, Rasak said that around 12.25am on July 17, there were gunshots in the neigbourhood and the night watchman altered them that thieves had invaded the area but before he could come out of his room, there was heavy knocking at their door by some people who identified themselves as police officers. He said the officers pushed them into the house with a gun and when they asked questions, they hit them on the chest and head with gun butts without allowing them to talk.
Rasak told the panel that the officers from the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Iyaganku, who said they were looking for Kabiru, handcuffed him and the late Omotoso as the only men in the house, took them to Agugu Police Station and immediately moved them to Iyaganku where they were thrown into the cell around 1.15am without telling them their offence or their family where they are being taken to.
According to him, they met about 126 people in a cell of around 15×15 feet, adding that in the morning, they asked them questions, wrote statements on their behalf and told them to sign under duress before taking them back to the cell around 10.00am.
He noted that the officers didn’t allow them to see anybody or eat, adding that they did not eat for five days as they had no one to give them food and had no money on them.
“On Monday, they took us out again and took us to the Officer in Charge of anti-cultism unit and he asked if we were ready to tell them Kabiru’s whereabouts. We repeated that we didn’t know where he was as he left the house months before the incident.
“We were taken back to the cell, and on Monday night, Kehinde was in too much discomfort and stomach pains. We went to bed and he was already dead in the cell before morning,” Rasak stated.
Yusuf in her testimony said while it was true she signed the affidavit submitted by the police, she doesn’t know the contents as she couldn’t read or write, adding that she thought the officers were helping her when they told her to sign the affidavit.
Under cross examination by police counsel, Matthew Ojeah, Rasak and Yusuf, including their elder brother, Demola Omotoso, and two daughters of the deceased didn’t change their testimony.
The panel while going through the police response to the petition noted that the police order to remand Omotoso for 14 days was obtained on the afternoon of the day he died with the police doctor’s report confirming he died at 6.00am that morning.
The panel further noted that the date on the warrant of arrest and search warrant was obtained by the police was two days after Rasak and Omotoso had been arrested, stressing that from police exhibits, nothing incriminating was found in the domain of the two men.
The panel asked why all processes like search and arrest warrant was done together for the two but remand order was only obtained for Omotoso and it was obtained on the day he died.
Responding, the police counsel said he was only involved in the legal aspects and cant say much about the investigation.
The panel consequently reiterated its order that all police officers mentioned in the process and the lawyer whose letter head appeared on the affidavit be produced before the panel and adjourned the matter till April 29, 2021 for further hearing.