Apr 4, 2008

Woman Seeking Justice for Son's Life


Pam

As early as 0600 hours local time on the morning of July 2nd, the noisy engine of a vehicle awakened the Dung family of Rahol Kanang in Jos south Local Government Area. When madam Josephine Dung pulled out the covering of her window, she saw about eight gun-wielding men in mufti. Their mission was to arrest her son, Emmanuel Pam Dung.

Emmanuel’s room door, which overlooks the road, gave the men easy access. They banged the door with a horrifying viciousness and when the boy opened the door he was grabbed by the trousers and with all manner of cruelty his two hands were pulled backwards and held together with handcuffs. When madam Josephine tried to find out where her son was been taken to, one Haruna Dikko threatened her with a gun. That was how the men made away with her son.

The investigation of the whereabouts of her son led her to the Nassarawa Gwong Police Station the next day. She met Haruna Dikko who told her that her son was in detention and that she will have to come back the next day. The next day she sent her relations who went to the station but were told that no such case existed. The then contacted Haruna Dikko who denied knowledge of any such case despite the fact that he led the team that arrested her son. The turn of events led madam to consider checking the morgues in town and the search led her to the Jos University Teaching Hospital where, to her utter disbelief, she discovered the corpse of her son deposited two hours after he was arrested. The same Haruna Dikko who had arrested her son and who later denied knowledge of the case deposited the body. The boy was obviously shot from the back of the head at point blank with the bullet ripping through his head to pull off one of the eyeballs from its socket. Cause of death as documented by Dikko on the mortuary register says that the boy was a robbery suspect killed by the Police as he tried to escape from the crime scene at Babale along the road to Bauchi.

Following the extra-judicial manner in which her son was killed, Madame Josephine has vowed that justice has to be done and has thus subsequently approached the League For Human Rights, LHR, in Jos. Following Mrs. Dung's resolve to see that justice is done, some persons who claim to be members of the vigilante group from Nassarawa Gwong, the immediate jurisdiction of the police division whose men killed her son have threatened her life through texts messages. The same persons have also sent a letter to the head office of the Federal Road Safety Commission in Abuja where she works, telling the command that she is not worthy of wearing the uniforms of the command and should thus be fired. Against all these, madam says that her resolve to fight for justice has only been strengthened by such threats.

Extra-judicial killings by Policemen in Nigeria are recurrent and leave people wondering whether perpetrators ever face retribution. Shamaky Gad Peter, the Senior Programme Officer of LHR, said that his organization wrote the Plateau State Commissioner of Police (CP) on the 16th July and following the failure of the CP to respond; a second letter was written on August 4th. On the same day, the Homicide Department of the force was assigned the responsibility of investigating the case. The men were subsequently arrested but released later on. The explanation of the

Homicide Department was that the men have no case to answer since the boy was short death while attempting to escape. The LHR was not satisfied with the explanation since the boy was arrested and had his hands held behind by steel shackles. There was no way he would have escaped in that condition. The nature of the gunshot injury also revealed that he was shot at close range. While investigation was going on the Police also hastily buried the corpse.

The LHR sensing a deliberate lack of cooperation from the force has hence written the Inspector General (IP) of the Police, the Police Service Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation. The LHR believes some form of communication will be established with the office of the Inspector General. Should this fail however, the LHR has plan B which will involve suing the IG, the CP and all other parties that should be held responsible for their refusal to allow justice to take its course.

In December 2002 some youths: Silas Joseph, Emmanuel Kwaja, Samson Jacob, Laban Samaila and Edozie Okonji were arrested on suspicion of robbing a pastor of a branch of Church of Christ in Nigeria around of the sum of N75, 000. They were taken to the Katako Police station. While their hands were held together with steel handcuffs, a female police officer sprayed a concentrated form of tear gas directly into their eyes. Most of them suffered visual impairment for some time. The torture was meant to compel them to admitting guilt of the offenceOn the 9th November 2004, Mallam Shehu Mohammed was seriously beaten by one constable Ali on suspicion of being an armed robber. He later bled to death. On 14th May 2007, Ahmed Sadiq Mohammed, 24 and Aminu Musa, 23 were involved in an automobile accident with a vehicle belonging to their boss around Abattoir in Jos. Yusuf Dongonyaro, who was a Chief Superintendent of Police and who also, happened to be the Divisional Police Officer of Anglo-Jos Police Station was drinking at a near-by beer parlour. He came out with his gun and sent the two boys to hell instantly. According to Shamaky the mortuary register of JUTH showed that Haruna Dikko actually deposited two corpses on the 2nd of July at about 0830 local time. The corpses were those of Emmanuel Dung and one other unnamed victim.

Constable Ali and CSP Dogonyaro were dismissed from the force and charged to court. The LHR does not always carry on with the cases as it often relays it to the Federal Ministry of Justice. The Nigerian judicial process has been known for its sluggishness. Legal cases often drag for so years that the memory of the seriousness of the crime diminishes with time. Such lengthy legal process also wears out the bereaved that lose interest in pursuing the case. The trial will thus end up inconclusive and justice is never found. It is hoped that Emmanuel’s case will be different.

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