The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), has accused the Police in Benin City, capital of Edo State, of extra-judicial killing.
The body alleged that 42- year-old Samuel Imaikop, a farmer with four labourers he hired to work on his farm were brutally murdered on November 24 by men of the Edo State Police Command at the Benin Bye-pass.
The group’s Programme Coordinator, Okechukwu Nwanguma, who disclosed this in Benin City, said that NOPRIN is investigating the alleged extra judicial killing and previous cases of reckless police killings in Edo State.
He said this is with a view to unravelling and publicising the truths about these killings and following up to ensure that police authorities carry out thorough investigations that will lead to redress the victims’ families and accountability for the police officers responsible.
According to a report made available by the organisation, Mr Samuel Imaikop (42) a farmer from Nsital LGA of Akwa Ibom State and resident in Benin City was married with two wives and 7 children with his second wife pregnant.
The reports reads: “According to information from the late Samuel Imaikop’s family members which were corroborated by witnesses, on Sunday November 24, 2013 at about 9 am, Samuel, along with four casual labourers he hired to work for him in his farm, were shot dead by police officers at a check point along Benin Bye-pass”.
The report further revealed that the dead bodies of the five men were allegedly dumped at the back of a white police Hilux van and driven to the Edo State Police Headquarters on Central Road, GRA, Benin City.
Before the incident, it was gathered that on Saturday 23 November, late Samuel had gone to his farm at Ute community in Edo State with a younger brother and four labourers whom he picked up at ‘2 plus 2’ bus stop and engaged them for a fee to clear some portion of his farm.
He was said to have bargained with the four labourers and they agreed to be paid N25,000.
Later in the evening, the deceased drove the labourers back with an understanding to pick them up again the next day to go and complete the job.
Beside farming, the deceased was also a supplier of fire woods to some restaurants in town. So on that evening at the farm, he loaded some firewood in his bus to be supplied the next day to one of his customers.
He was said to have dropped off the four hired labourers and drove home with the firewood.
Before his demise on Sunday morning, he first went and supplied the firewood at ‘Madam Spot,’ a restaurant somewhere along Cemetery Road, Benin City whom he supplied firewood two times in a week.
Having dropped the firewood, he stopped over again at ‘2 plus 2’ and picked up the same four labourers to go and complete their job in the farm.
On their way to the farm, somewhere along Benin Bye-Pass, some police officers at a checkpoint were alleged to have opened fire on them, killing all five men and the dead bodies dumped at the office of the SARS at the State Police Headquarters as armed robbers with a gun placed on them as exhibit.
Corroborating the story, younger brother of the deceased, Pastor Ime Imaikop Brownson, said when he heard about the incident that morning, he rushed to the station only for the police to subject him to brutality, detention, cruel and dehumanising treatment for daring to come to the station to inquire about his dead brother.
He was also locked up for five days, and denied access to his family or a lawyer not until his wife came with one Olayowola Afolabi, a legal practitioner, to secure his release after five days.
He also maintained that he knew his brother too well, and that he was a farmer and not an armed robber.
Affirming his organisation’s resolve to ensure justice is achieved for Imaikop, Nwanguma added:”The late Samuel Imaikop’s bus is still parked at the police station. There is need to examine the bus to see if there’s evidence of gunshots (bullet holes) on the bus”.
When contacted, Edo Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Moses Eguavoen insisted that the men they killed were armed robbers.
He however could not state whether there was exchange of fire between the police and the five men, and insisted the reporter visit his office for clarification.
But when it was suggested that the meeting should be at his office, he said: “I am on my way to Asaba at the moment”