The Police Tuesday admitted owing an expectant schoolteacher that was detained and tortured for 22 days in 2017, Mrs Nzube Obiechina and her husband Ogechukwu, a judgment debt of N2million.
A lawyer for the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Mr Nosa Uhumwamgho, told the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS related abuses and other matters that Mrs Obiechina is the younger sister of alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias Evans.
Evans, sometimes called the ‘Billionaire kidnapper’ has, since 2017, been facing multiple conspiracy, kidnapping, murder and attempted murder charges before several Lagos State High Courts.
The schoolteacher and her husband first appeared before the panel on October 31.
Mrs. Obiechina narrated how she was arrested by the now dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), detained, and tortured over a period of 22 days till she lost her two-month pregnancy.
The panel adjourned till Tuesday for the police to appear to respond to the allegations.
At Tuesday’s proceeding, Uhumwamgho entered appearance for his employers.
He told the panel that the couple was arrested because during investigation, their phone numbers were linked to Evans Uhumwamgho: “Are you related to the popular Evans?”
Mrs Obiechina: “Who is Evans?”
But when the police counsel mentioned Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, the schoolteacher said, “he is my brother.”
Uhumwamgho: “You know this person is popularly known as Evans?”
Mrs Obiechina: “I never knew…. I know he was arrested for kidnapping.”
Explaining the connection between Evans and the woman to the panel, the lawyer said, “Evans was arrested because of Mrs. Obiechina led the (police) team to arrest Evans. It was she who led us to Evans. We kept her for five days and that was why we were able to arrest Evans.”
The lawyer then asked: “Are you aware that one Umeh Francis was kidnapped sometime in 2016 and a ransom of $1m was collected and the said Umeh reported the case to the police?”
In response, the schoolteacher said, “I am not aware.”
However, the lawyer told the panel that the police traced three phone numbers used by Evans in the operation and collection of the $1m ransom and the phone numbers of the couple were two of the three numbers.
The lawyer said, “The police sent the numbers to our technical intelligence unit for expansion and the numbers of the two witnesses (the couple) featured prominently.”
However, the panel pointed out that the issue brought before it by the couple was the failure of the police to comply with a N2m judgment which they secured against the police for the violation of their rights.
In response, the lawyer questioned the couple if their lawyer had filed an action in court for the enforcement of the judgment.
Facing the couple, the lawyer asked, “Were you told by your lawyer that you cannot get the N2m on a platter? That you have to file an application for the enforcement of that judgment?”
Explaining why the police had yet to pay the couple the judgment debt, Uhumwamgho said the police were facing financial constraints.
He added: With regard to judgment, before a judgment is awarded against the police, you know the police is all over the federation and they might channel the matter to a wrong place, you cannot get the money. ….And that is why we always advise counsel that when you get a judgment, try to execute your judgment and bring in the Attorney-General. There is need to bring in the AG of the Federation to get your damages.”
Responding to a question by a panelist on who is to blame for the police’s poor finances, Uhumwamgho said: “I don’t want to put the blame on anybody. I would say it’s from the top, not the police command that needs to be blamed. The IGP recently talked about the (police) budget and he’s emphasising that the money is not enough…the legal department is not funded the way it should be and there is a limit, for those who made complaints, to foot the bills of such matters in court.”
The panel later adjourned the case till December 8 for the adoption of summons.