A coalition of civil society organisations under the banner of the Action Group on Free Civic Space (AGFCS), have demanded an independent panel to probe allegations of illegal detention, extortion, kidnapping, torture, extra-judicial killings, and organ harvesting leveled against some police officers in Zone 13 Headquarters Ukpo, Anambra State and the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Awkuzu, Anambra State Command.
NOHR reported that the officer-in-Charge of Awkuzu Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Patrick Agbazue, and his team were accused of human rights abuses including kidnapping, murder, organ harvesting, and extortion.
The accusation was first made by an anonymous blogger Gistlover. The allegation, lased with pictures, videos, and account details of the victim, detailed how Agbazue and his team allegedly moved money from their victims’ bank accounts after allegedly murdering them, and moving their bodies to a private morgue.
In a statement made available to newsmen on Thursday, AGFCS said the allegations against the police team are severe and disturbing, hence requiring a thorough, diligent, and transparent investigation by an independent panel.
The statement reads in part: “For about a week, social media has been buzzing with several allegations and testimonies against the same squad using the hashtags #Anambrakillings #arrestpatrickagbazue #anambra. The allegations are appalling, an affront to the sanctity of human rights and dignity, and undermine the fundamental principles of responsible policing and the development of just societies for which the Nigerian Police Force should be known. These current allegations are severe and disturbing, reflecting the findings in the AGFCS joint- action research report “#ENDSARS: Police Brutality and Shrinking Civic Space in Nigeria”.
“The research was carried out in the wake of the #EndSARS protests, with the spotlight on Anambra State as the epicenter of rogue policing in Nigeria. The protests went beyond the elite squad known as the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) and extended to all-round high handedness and police brutality meted out on citizens by law enforcement officers.
“Even though SARS has been disbanded as a result of those protests, the brutality that they came to be known for is far from over. The allegations against several members of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) like the Akwuzu, Anambra State Command suggest that the reforms that were promised during the protests have not been implemented. While we note and commend the Inspector-General of Police for setting up a special investigative panel and the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo’s directive to the Attorney-General of the state to call for and review all case files with allegations of human rights abuses handled by Police Zone 13 Headquarters, Ukpo, and the Rapid
“Response Squad, Awkuzu, we call on the NPF and the Anambra State Government to not let this be business as usual. Culpable officers must be made to face the full wrath of the law if indicted. We also call for the immediate suspension of all accused officers pending the result of the investigations. We also call on the National Human Rights Commission to set up an independent investigative panel to look into these atrocious allegations.
“Furthermore, we call on the IGP and the NPF to grant full independence to the investigative panel to enable fair trial. Civil society organizations should be allowed to monitor and document the activities of the panel as part of efforts to ensure transparency. The reports of the investigations must not be swept under the carpet. The government must also ensure that victims get the justice that their situations deserve.”