Posted by News Express | 15 September 2016 | 2,386 times
The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has expressed sadness and dismay over the return of CSP James Nwafor as Officer-in-Charge of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (OC/SARS) of the Anambra State Police Command.
A statement issued by the leadership of the society on Wednesday in Onitsha, signed by its Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi and Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Igboeli, alleged: “From overwhelming pieces of testimonial accounts of those who are victims of incessant arrests, long detentions without trial, indiscriminate pre-trial and custodial killings, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments including extortions, disappearances and trumped up charges, of the SARS murderous activities under CSP James Nwafor …His return to the state for the second time as OC/SARS is a disaster and a grave threat to the fundamental human rights of the citizens of Anambra State particularly the artisan and trading public.”
Intersociety said it has always maintained and insisted that in combating violent crimes, law enforcement authorities and personnel must ensure at all times, that right approaches and laid down procedures are strictly applied; failure of which expressly amount to jungle justice or trial-by-ordeal
“Combating violent crimes also strictly require using right instruments including ICT-powered intelligence gathering and networking as well as well trained and ICT-compliant personnel and well equipped crime laboratories for the purpose of scientific investigation of crime scenes, crime objects and parties to crime. Where these are unavailable; crude crime control becomes indiscriminate and riotously applied. That is to say that the latter has become the stock-in-trade of CSP James Nwafor and his murderous SARS. It is totally wrong to arrest a citizen unarmed and kill him or her with arm. Also competent and efficient criminal investigations are a warehouse of criminal and convictable evidence and a passport to speedy trial and conviction,” the rights group said.
HURIWA also said it is saddening and shocking that out of over 450 serving CSPs in the Nigeria Police Force including those with field and academic expertise in law enforcement, crime prevention and intelligence policing, it is only CSP Nwafor that the authorities found to be ‘competent’ to be permanently attached to the Anambra State Police Command as its OC/SARS. This, the group said, is after he had served in circumstances they described as disastrous, for over six years as Unit and State OC/SARS in the state.
It said, “As a key partner in the Anambra Project and leading public security and safety advocacy rights group in Nigeria, we are aware that whatever impact made or success recorded in controlling violent crimes in Anambra State did not result from incessancy of torture, long detention without trial, disappearances and pre-trial and custodial killings; rather, such an impact or success came as a result of effective intelligence supplied by the Anambra State Directorate of DSS and some hard-working non-combatant under-cover agents or disguised intelligence suppliers or ‘informants’.
“Through ICT-powered Sniffer Programs and Keystroke Loggers, the Anambra DSS has been able to deploy effective and ICT-powered intelligence gathering to unmask the activities of violent criminals. In addition to these is the use by the DSS of ICT-powered Tracking Machines to interrogate and track electronically suspected kidnappers and other violent criminals’ movements and mobile phone uses, leading to their arrest and hand over to SARS, which routinely tortures and ‘travels them’.
“Sadly and disappointingly, none of these is at the disposal of CSP James Nwafor and his murderous SARS. It is therefore not by extra-judicial killing or torture or extortion or disappearances that some suspected kidnappers or armed robbers were arrested inside an aircraft or in their hidden hotel rooms and other hideouts including where their victims are held. These were achieved through coordinated and effective intelligence gathering and exchanges. Through CSP James Nwafor’s atrocious policing methods, dozens, if not hundreds of innocent citizens have been murdered in custody.
“These atrocious practices are routinely carried out through grievous torture and other animalistic treatments of the arrested suspects. Most victims are gravely tortured to admit being armed robbers or kidnappers after they failed to pay huge extortionist sums asked of them at the points of their arrests. Late evening and early morning indiscriminate arrest of citizens retiring to their homes from their trading or job places or those going to or returning from their church activities, are a routine under CSP James Nwafor’s atrocious SARS. Those at eating and drinking joints are not left out too. The sole intent behind these arrests is extortion and it is those who cannot afford the huge extortion sums at the points of their arrest that are transferred to the Awkuzu SARS headquarters as ‘armed robbers’ or ‘kidnappers’.
“There, they are routinely tortured gravely to admit committing violent crimes such as armed robbery or kidnapping that they never committed. In most cases, those citizens are tricked by CSP James Nwafor into confessing crimes they did not commit with a promise to ‘release them free of charge if they confess or admit’, only for them to be shot dead instantly after they have confessed under threats or duress. Those killed are described as ‘those who have been travelled’. The outlook of the SARS headquarters at Awkuzu express depicts ‘torture chambers’ and its cells are marked with torture signs; from ‘grave, graver to gravest’, with Cell 5 as the gravest or ‘Cell of death’. Death inscriptions such as ‘welcome to hell’ and ‘sign your death warrant’ are also a routine.
“Torture methods commonly in use at the Awkuzu SARS headquarters as well as at its various units or annexes at Nnewi, Onitsha, Okpoko, Nneni, Ihiala, Ekwulobia, Awka, etc. include suffocation, strangulation, cutting of fingers, insertion of hot needles into citizens’ private parts, fingers and ears; hanging, using ceiling fan hooks; beating, using fists, booths, planks, clubs and metals; and shooting of citizens’ legs, waist and arms, using live bullets. Where such tortured citizens die in the process, their bodies are taken out late at night and buried in shallow graves or dumped inside the river with most of them tied with heavy objects so as to make their bodies sink without floating. Those injured in the course of their torture are dumped in the cell without treatments and left to bleed to death.
“Totality of these characterized CSP James Nwafor’s atrocious era as OC/SARS in Anambra State. SARS under CSP James Nwafor also served and is still serving as a lucrative source of blood money and major ‘returns channel’ for Anambra State Police Command and above.”
According to HURIWA, “Rich persons with dubious characters and rotten integrity routinely use CSP James Nwafor’s SARS to advance their business interests and suppress their opponents and the downtrodden. The management of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), substantially owned by Emeka Offor is noted as one of such entities that routinely uses the atrocious services of CSP James Nwafor’s SARS to clamp some of its senior and subordinate staff as well as dozens of power consumers into long detention without trial over mere accusation of ‘diverting or tampering of prepaid meters’; a responsibility statutory given to the authorities of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC). While in SARS detention for weeks, those citizens were routinely tortured, degraded and denied bail or trial.”
HURIWA also alleged that “The atrocious records of CSP James Nwafor are too numerous to be exhausted. One of his numerous atrocious records was his roles in the Ezu River saga of 19th of January 2013 during which up to 40 or more lifeless bodies of young citizens were seen floating on Ezu River in Amansea area of Awka, the Capital City of Anambra State. While some of the lifeless citizens were obviously tortured and killed in custody before they were dumped inside Ezu River, others were taken alive to the River, shot and killed on top of the River’s Bridge before they were pushed into the River. Several portions of the Bridge were stained with blood of the shot victims.”
The advocacy group said it “solely and deeply investigated the Ezu River saga strongly linked the massacre to Awkuzu SARS under CSP James Nwafor. Later findings showed that about 20 of the lifeless bodies were killed at the Nnewi Annex of SARS under the instructions of CSP James Nwafor. Nine members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) were also among the lifeless bodies found floating on Ezu River.”
It gave the names of nine MASSOB members as Basil Ogbu, Michael Ogwa, Monday Omeogo, Philip Nwankpa, Ezeh Obumneme, Ebuka Ezeh, Obinna Oguejioffor, Joseph Udoh, and Sunday Offor,” adding that “they were arrested on 7th December, 2012 by Anambra State Joint Taskforce Force through the Onitsha Main Market Vigilante Service led by Chinenye Ihemko (Okpomkpi) following a protest near Onitsha Main Market over killing of their members by the Police and handed over to SARS Unit attached to the Onitsha Central Police Station, which transferred them to Awkuzu SARS Headquarters at the request of CSP James Nwafor.
“We investigated further the identities of the nine MASSOB members and found that: (a) Basil Ogbu was real. He hailed from Nsukka in Enugu State and lived at 100 Bida Road, Onitsha. He was about 25 years and his wife is Mrs. Uchenna Ogbu, then nursing mother with phone number-08064018819; (b) Monday Omeogo was real, formerly of No.10, Minaj Street, Obosi, Anambra State. He hailed from Ohakwu LGA in Ebonyi State and was about 30 years of age. His wife is Mrs. Eucharia Omeogo with phone number 08109957940; (c) Michael Ogba was real. He lived at Johnbosco Lane, Ugwuagba Layout, Obosi and hailed from Ebonyi State and he was about 35 years. His wife is Mrs. Susan Ogba with phone number-08135564871; (d) Obinna Oguejiofor was real. He hailed from Umuoli-Umoji in Anambra State and was 20years. His mother is Mrs. Augustina Oguejiofor with phone number 08068262471; (e) Obumneme Ezeh was real and 25 years of age. He lived at No.2, Maifulani Street, Fegge, Onitsha and hailed from Amandugba in Imo State. His mother is Mrs. Phebi Ezeh with phone number-07031949088; (f) Ebuka Ezeh was real and 27 years old. He lived at No. 5, Anaekwe Street, Fegge, Onitsha and hailed from Amandugba in Imo State. His mother is Mrs. Philomena Ezeh with phone number-08022945380; (g) Philip Nwankpa was real. He lived at Uruowulu Village, Obosi and hailed from Ezza West LGA, Ebonyi State. He was about 30 years. His wife is Mrs. Ekene Nwankpa with phone number-08133021378. We were unable to trace relatives of the two remaining MASSOB members as at then.
HURIWA further alleged that “the Ezu River saga was politically and pathologically manipulated on account of undue interferences and extensive State-actor manipulations. For instance, there was a makeshift autopsy carried out by the then Government of Anambra State headed by Mr. Peter Obi. The autopsy was acutely selective and unpopular. The worst of it all was legislative interferences by various Senate Committees at the instance of Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, which claimed to be ‘investigating’ the saga; whereas they harboured an intention to exonerate CSP James Nwafor and his SARS of obvious and circumstantial culpability.”
•Photo shows controversial SARS chief, CSP James Nwafor.
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