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Echoes of Ezu River Police Massacre: How to end torture and extra-judicial killings in Nigeria (Part 3)

By News Express on 28/07/2017

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•IGP Ibrahim Idris.
•IGP Ibrahim Idris.

Role of the then Federal Government of Nigeria and its Police:

The then central Government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and its Nigeria Police Forces headquarters at Abuja made a lot of efforts at covering up the traces and identities of the officers of Anambra Police SARS involved in the butchery and dumping of the slain bodies as well as the identities of the slain. The Anambra State Police Command and its superiors at the Force Headquarters in Abuja also rapaciously and shamelessly engaged in false denials of responsibility.

The then Anambra CP, Bala Nasarawa also addressed several press conferences denying police involvement. The Federal Executive Arm of the country also did all it could to cover up including summary takeover of all the investigations so initiated and the main result of the  autopsy ordered by the then Government of Anambra State which never saw the light of the day till date.

Then Senate Cover-up:

The worst of it all was the interference and involvement (with intents to cover up) of the Senate Joint Committee on Police and National Security/Intelligence that claimed to have “investigated” the matter. The Senate Joint Committee was headed by the then Chairman of Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Sen. Igwe Paulinus Nwagu from Ebonyi State and had the following as its members: Sen (Maj Gen) Sani Sale Retired, Senator Mohammed Shaba Lafiaji, Senator Chris Ngige host senator and Sen (Gen) Mohammed Magoro Rtd. (chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security & Intelligence). The Senate Joint Committee was inaugurated in late January 2013 and it had its first sitting at the Executive Chambers of the Government House of Anambra State.

The Senate Joint Committee recorded an armada of failures which included: skewed or selective non-State party engagement, unclear terms of reference and oversight investigation scope, deliberate exclusion of leading Anambra based rights groups especially the State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization and International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law; using top-down method instead of down-top method of crime scene and field visits/interactions (i.e. meeting State actors such as State Government, traditional rulers and Police first instead of starting from non State actors), allowing Anambra SARS authorities to stage manage and clean up their records and torture chambers before visiting, inadequate public invitations and impromptu schedules, half baked interviews with the families of the victims, deliberate distortion of  facts of the matter, obstruction of justice and general intents to cover up, pervert justice and exonerate the perpetrators.

As generally expected and in spite of the shocking revelations before the Committee by  close relatives of the “MASSOB Nine” including their wives and mothers, the said Senate Joint Committee turned in a grossly watery, provocative and conspiratorial report totally exonerating the Nigeria Police authorities and falsely creating “a communal conflict or rivalry student cult victims’ scenario”.

The report, possibly and inescapably towing the line of the Anambra State Government’s ordered autopsy result/report; weakly admitted that “about six persons had gunshot wounds”. The Senate report also falsely claimed that “only 19 bodies were found”. That is to say that the latter content of the Senate report was tailored in line with the Nigeria Police’s undeniable denials, distortion of facts and obstruction of justice; to the effect that “only 19 corpses were recovered in Ezu River”.

The detailed accounts and testimonies of the families of the “MASSOB Nine”, which gave express and incontrovertible insight into Anambra Police SARS involvement were totally ignored or mangled by the Senate Joint Committee. The then MASSOB Director of Information, Mr Uchenna Madu had in March 2013 appeared before Senator Paulinus Nwagu led Senate Committee and was accompanied by  Mrs. Susan Ogba, wife to the missing Michael Ogba; Chidubem Oguejiofor, elder brother to missing Obinna Offor.

Others are Eucharia Omogo, wife to the missing Monday Omogo,  Ekene Nwamkpa, wife to the missing Philip Nwankpa, Solomon Ogbu, elder brother to Basil Ogbu; Uchenna Ogbu, wife to the missing Basil Ogbu; Phoebi Eze, mother to the missing Obumneme Eze; and Chukwuma Eze, younger brother to Ndubuisi Eze.

The then Head of Campaign & Publicity Department of this Organization, Comrade Justus Ijeoma, who now heads International Human Rights & Equity Defense Foundation was also dispatched to Abuja to meet with the then Senate Committee chair on Police Affairs (Senator Paulinus Nwagu) and arrange for possible appearance before the Committee by our Organization, but the Senate Committee chair became uncomfortable and dodged the interface.

The Board Chairman of our Organization (Emeka Umeagbalasi) was also invited in April 2013 for interview by the then DIG, Force Criminal Investigations (now retired DIG Peter Gana) on account of our earlier detailed petition on the matter; only for our Board Chair to be told on arrival by an Assistant Commissioner of Police that “the DIG had an emergency and traveled outside the country” and promised to communicate a new date. Till date, no new date had been communicated nor the matter conclusively investigated.

Role of then MASSOB Leadership:

The role played by the leadership of Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) which lost nine of its members to Anambra Police SARS torture and custodial/extra judicial executions was initially fantastic and commendable. In this respect, Comrade Uchenna Mmadu, in his then capacity as the Director of Information of MASSOB as well as his lieutenants is singled out for commendation for playing an award-winning role in ensuring that those behind the massacre of their members were exposed and brought to book. Apart from travelling thro and fro with the families of the slain MASSOB activists, Comrade Uchenna Mmadu was conscientiously everywhere, ready at anytime called to assist and volunteer facts and other necessary information. For further details, see the link below:

Disappointedly, these efforts were internally cut short, thwarted, sabotaged and compromised along the line and in April 2013 Comrade Uchenna Mmadu was suddenly and unceremoniously removed and relieved of his headship of MASSOB internal committee coordinating “MASSOB Nine Justice Campaign”. This happened barely three weeks after his appearance with the families of “the MASSOB Nine” before the Senate Joint Committee. A conformist unit official from Lagos State branch/region of the Movement was immediately appointed as his replacement.

This signaled the change of entire campaign leading to further compromises and total abandonment of the struggle till date. There was also “a national leadership directive banning every MASSOB official other than “the Leader” from inquiring or asking or speaking or saying anything about “the MASSOB Nine”. Every enquiry and clarification was to solely emanate from the “Leader”. We also understand that this marked the beginning till date of frosty relationship between then Directorate of Information led by Comrade Uchenna Mmadu and then National Leadership of the Movement led by Mr. Raphael Uwazuruike.

Reid Criminal Interrogation Techniques:

The Reid Technique involves three components – factual analysis, interviewing, and interrogation. Following is a brief summary of these components; more information is available on the company's website.

Factual Analysis

The Reid website describes factual analysis as: An inductive approach where each individual suspect is evaluated with respect to specific observations relating to the crime. Consequently, factual analysis relies not only on crime scene analysis, but also on information learned about each suspect. . . . ; applying factual analysis . . . results in establishing an estimate of a particular suspect's probable guilt or innocence based on such things as the suspect's bio-social status (gender, race, occupation, marital status, etc.), opportunity and access to commit the crime.

Others are their behaviour before and after the crime, their motivations and propensity to commit the crime, and evaluation of physical and circumstantial evidence. This factual analysis is also intended to “identify characteristics about the suspect and the crime which will be helpful during an interrogation of the suspect believed to be guilty” such as motive or the suspect's personality type.

Behaviour Analysis Interview

The Reid website describes the Behaviour Analysis Interview (BAI) as a non-accusatory question and answer session, involving both standard investigative questions and “structured 'behavior provoking' questions to elicit behaviour symptoms of truth or deception from the person being interviewed.”

The investigator first asks background questions, to establish personal information about the suspect and allow the investigator to evaluate the suspect's “normal” verbal and nonverbal behavior. The investigator then asks “behaviour-provoking” questions intended “to elicit different verbal and nonverbal responses from truthful and deceptive suspects.” The investigator will also ask some investigative questions during this stage.

The Reid website states that the BAI: provides objective criteria to render an opinion about the suspect's truthfulness through evaluating responses to the behaviour-provoking and investigative questions. In addition, the BAI facilitates the eventual interrogation of guilty suspects . . . by establishing a working rapport with the suspect during the non-accusatory BAI, and developing insight about the suspect and his crime to facilitate the formulation of an interrogation strategy.


The Reid website states that an interrogation “should only occur when the investigator is reasonably certain of the suspect’s involvement in the issue under investigation.” There are nine steps to the Reid interrogation technique, briefly described below.

1. The positive confrontation. The investigator tells the suspect that the evidence demonstrates the person’s guilt. If the person’s guilt seems clear to the investigator, the statement should be unequivocal.

2. Theme development. The investigator then presents a moral justification (theme) for the offense, such as placing the moral blame on someone else or outside circumstances. The investigator presents the theme in a monologue and in sympathetic manner.

3. Handling denials. When the suspect asks for permission to speak at this stage (likely to deny the accusations), the investigator should discourage allowing the suspect to do so. The Reid website asserts that innocent suspects are less likely to ask for permission and more likely to “promptly and unequivocally” deny the accusation. The website states that “[i]t is very rare for an innocent suspect to move past this denial state.”

4. Overcoming objections. When attempts at denial do not succeed, a guilty suspect often makes objections to support a claim of innocence (e.g., I would never do that because I love my job.) The investigator should generally accept these objections as if they were truthful, rather than arguing with the suspect, and use the objections to further develop the theme.

5. Procurement and retention of suspect’s attention. The investigator must procure the suspect's attention so that the suspect focuses on the investigator's theme rather than on punishment. One way the investigator can do this is to close the physical distance between himself or herself and the suspect. The investigator should also “channel the theme down to the probable alternative components.”

6. Handling the suspect's passive mood. The investigator “should intensify the theme presentation and concentrate on the central reasons he [or she] is offering as psychological justification . . . [and] continue to display an understanding and sympathetic demeanor in urging the suspect to tell the truth.”

7. Presenting an alternative question. The investigator should present two choices, assuming the suspect's guilt and developed as a “logical extension from the theme,” with one alternative offering a better justification for the crime (e.g., “did you plan this thing out or did it just happen on the spur of the moment?”). The investigator may follow the question with a supporting statement “which encourages the suspect to choose the more understandable side of the alternative.”

8. Having the suspect orally relate various details of the offense. After the suspect accepts one side of the alternative (thus admitting guilt), the investigator should immediately respond with a statement of reinforcement acknowledging that admission. The investigator then seeks to obtain a brief oral review of the basic events, before asking more detailed questions.

9. Converting an oral confession to a written confession. The investigator must convert the oral confession into a written or recorded confession. The website provides some guidelines, such as repeating Miranda warnings, avoiding leading questions, and using the suspect's own language.

Expert and Non-torture (physical) Critiques of REID Technique

For a more detailed summary of criticisms of the Reid Technique, see this article from Criminal Law Quarterly, a Canadian journal. For more information on the company's response to such criticisms, see this document from Reid's website.

PEACE Method

In England, police generally use a less confrontational interview and interrogation method than is used in the United States. The method is called Preparation and Planning, Engage and Explain, Account, Closure and Evaluate (PEACE). Under the PEACE method, investigators allow a suspect to tell his or her story without interruption, before presenting the suspect with any inconsistencies or contradictions between the story and other evidence. Investigators are prohibited from deceiving suspects during an interview (Meissner et al., 11).

The following information on the steps to the PEACE method is drawn from Authorised Professional Practice (APP), a national body of guidance on policing in the United Kingdom. For more detailed information, see their website.

1. Preparation and Planning. Interviewers should create a written interview plan, focusing on issues such as the objectives of the interview and the order of interviews. Among other things, the plan should include the time a suspect has been in custody, the topics to be covered, and points necessary to prove the offense or provide a defense. Interviewers should consider characteristics of the interviewee that could be relevant to the plan (e.g., cultural background could affect how someone prefers to be addressed). Interviewers may need to consider practical arrangements, such as visiting the scene or the location of the interview.

2. Engage and Explain. The interviewers should engage the individual, including using active listening to establish a rapport with him or her. The interviewers should explain the reasons for the interview and its objectives. They should also explain routines and expectations of the process (e.g., explaining that the interviewers will take notes). Interviewers should encourage the individual to state anything they believe is relevant.

3. Account. The interviewers should use appropriate questions and active listening to obtain the interviewee's account of events. Questions should be short and free of jargon, and can help to clarify and expand the account. Multi-part questions should generally be avoided due to possible confusion, and leading questions should be used only as a last resort.

4. Closure. This stage should be planned to avoid an abrupt end to the interview. Among other things, the interviewers should summarize the person's account of events, allowing the person to make clarifications and ask questions.

5. Evaluate. The interviewers should evaluate the interview to (a) assess how the interviewee's account fits with the investigation as a whole, (b) determine if further action is needed, and (c) reflect on their performance.

KINESIC Interview/Interrogation Technique:

The Kinesic Interview method involves analyzing a person's behavior to assess deception. The method has some similarities to the Reid Technique. Kinesics is the study of nonverbal communication. One author, Stan B. Walters, describes two phases to this process: the “Practical Kinesic Analysis Phase” and the “Practical Kinesic Interrogation Phase.”

During the analysis phase, the interviewer uses several techniques to observe and analyse the subject’s behaviour “to determine the subject's truthful and deceptive behaviours or at least to determine those areas most sensitive to the subject and, therefore, in need of further attention through verbal inquiry” (Walters 3). Walters describes four fundamental stages of the interview: (1) orientation, (2) narration, (3) cross-examination, and (4) resolution (Id. at 25-29).

The investigator uses information gathered during the first phase to tailor interrogation for the specific subject. Walters describes the interrogator's task of “breaking the cycle of deception” during the interrogation; this includes confronting the suspect’s negative-response emotional states (Id. at 209). Walters outlines different interrogation strategies for different personality types.

Walters describes over 30 practical kinesic principles to guide investigators in this process. The “first and most important” such principle is that “No single kinesic behaviour, verbal or nonverbal, proves a person is truthful or deceptive” (Id. at 10). The other principles include both general statements of human behaviour (people are better able to control verbal than nonverbal kinesic signals) and statements specifically focused on interview or interrogation techniques (to attack a denial, the investigator should review the real or circumstantial evidence with the subject every 3 to 5 minutes).

See more here:

3Es Crime Investigation Triangle:

In all, the modern criminal interrogation/interview techniques above highlighted are inseparable, interwoven and inter-used with the 3Es Crime Investigation Triangle; comprising electronic protective and detective security (i.e. CCTVs, hidden cameras, metal/voice/lie detectors and biometrics; tracking machines, etc), electronic intelligence (surveillance, secret pens/cameras and other electronic tracking devices); and electronic investigation devices or technologies and  researched crime texts (i.e. modern crime labs and libraries, etc).

The effective use or application of the 3Es Criminal Investigation Triangle roundly makes application of criminal interrogation techniques totally supplementary and complementary for criminal investigators. The overall potency of modern science of crime or digitalized and mentally advanced criminal investigation is that it ensures or aids speedy prosecution and trial. It is also cheaper, less cumbersome, easily adaptable, accessible, available, affordable, mentally coherent, prosecutorial, convictable, noble, human rights and sanctity of life and image friendly; ICT compliant and corporately credible.

The combined use or application of the 3Es Crime Investigation Triangle and Modern Crime Interrogation Techniques are also importantly unique in the sense that they credibly and socially ensure the actualisation of three cardinal purposes or aims of criminal investigation management; namely: ensuring Inculpatory statement (a voluntary statement, written or recorded, by a criminal suspect, acknowledging a particular decision or activity associated with a crime), elimination of Noble cause corruption (corrupt or illegal acts committed by law enforcement officers in order to secure or maintain an arrest or conviction  or other unworthy and atrocious practices such as in-station and out-station corruption, torture and custodial shooting and killing) and Securing noble sentencing or acquittal during prosecution.

Expert/Advocacy Recommendations:

•Being the concluding part of our serialisation of The Untold Story of Ezu River Police SARS Killings: Inside Anambra’s Theatre of Butchery Where SARS Send The Good and The Bad To Early Graves Outside The Law, a Special Investigation Report by Intersociety released in Onitsha, Anambra State, on July 20, 2017. Intersociety can be reached via mobile phone numbers +2348182411462, +2349063500218 or via e-mail:

Source News Express

Posted 28/07/2017 12:49:46 PM


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