The Oyo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on police brutality and extrajudicial killings on Thursday, ordered that summons be issued on all police officers whose name appeared in the response of the police to a petition filed before the panel by the family of an Ibadan trader, Kehinde Omotoso, who died in police custody on July 21, 2020, after being arrested by police officers from the CID unit, Iyaganku, Ibadan for an offence allegedly committed by his nephew, Kabiru Rasaq.
The panel further ordered that a letter of inquiry be to the Oyo State Hospitals Management Board to find out the location of the corpse as the police in its process before the panel, claimed that the corpse of the late Omotoso was deposited at the morgue of the Ring Road General Hospital after he gave up the ghost at the police hospital and asked that the lawyer whose name appears on the letter attached to the affidavit also appear before the court to explain who briefed for the job.
Earlier, the family had called two of its three witnesses, Jelili Rasak who was arrested alongside the deceased and Sekinat Yusuf, the younger sister of the deceased.
While being led in testimony by Barrister Toyese Owoade from the Afe Babalola Chambers, Jelili stated that around 12:25 am on July 17, there were gunshots in the neighbourhood and the night watchman was alerting the neighbourhood 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 who pushed him into the house with a gun and when they asked questions, hit them on the chest and head with guns without allowing them to talk.
He told the panel that the officers from the State Criminal Investigation Department, Iyaganku, who said they were looking for Kabiru, handcuffed him and the late Kehinde 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 1:15 am without telling them their offence or telling their family where they were taken them to.
According to him, they met about 126 people in the cell of around 15×15 feet and in the morning, they asked them questions, wrote statements on their behalf and told them to sign under duress and were taken back to the cell around 10:00 am without allowing 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.
He stated that “on Monday, they took us out again and took us to the officer-in-charge of the 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,” he said.
Sekinat 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, Jelili and Sekinat, 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 6:00 am that morning.
Further, the panel noted that the date on the warrant of arrest and search warrant was obtained by the police was two days after Jelili and Kehinde had been arrested and from police exhibits, nothing incriminating was found in the domain of the two men.
The panel asked why all processes like search and arrest warrants were done together for the two but a remand order was only obtained for Omotoso and it was obtained on the day he died.
In response, the police counsel said he was only involved in the legal aspects and can’t say much about the investigation.
The panel consequently reiterated its order that all police officers mentioned in the process and the lawyer whose letterhead appeared on the affidavit be produced before the panel and adjourned the matter till April 29, 2021, for further hearing.