A lawyer, Mr. Sunny Olorunmola, has accused men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of beating to death John Okon, a cook at the Kaduna residence of Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State.
According to him, Okon, 32, died as a result of injuries sustained from beatings by the SARS operatives after he was accused of stealing four television sets from the governor’s private residence located along Pola Road, off Swimming Pool Road, Kaduna.
Until his death in a police cell on November 13, Okon lived with his wife, Joy, in the house.
Olorunmola, who is solicitor to Joy Okon, on Thursday addressed journalists about how his client’s husband was allegedly tortured to death.
He noted that he had petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, over the matter.
Excerpt of the petition can be found below:
“We are Solicitor to Mrs. John Okon who formerly reside and lived together with her husband now (deceased) within Gombe State Governor, His Excellency, Ibrahim Dankwanbo’s Private Kaduna Residence located along Pola Road, Off Swimming Pool Road Kaduna.
“Mr. John Okon, died on the 13th day of November, 2018 as a result of gruesome serial multiple beatings and torture inflicted on him, white in the custody of men of the Nigerian Police (SARS) headed by one SP Jummai of Anti-Crime Department, Gabasawa, Police Headquarters Kaduna.
“Our Client, now late was employed as personal cook and housekeeper to the Gombe State Executive Governor, at his Kaduna residence as aforesaid, and has being serving the Governor in that capacity for about one and the half years before the aforesaid incidence. While at same time, lived in the Boys quarters of the Governor’s main private Residence, until, Thursday, 8th day of November, 2018 at about 7am when he woke up in the morning to attend to his daily domestic chore duties in the Governor’s Residence only to discovered that the house had been burgled, and (4) Four theatre TV Cinemas were made away, by the burglars.
“He immediately, rushed back to his living apartment in the boys quarter to inform his wife and in their shock and trembling, both Mr. and Mrs. John Okon, alerted all the security guards and gardener, who all slept in the Governor’s Residence together with them, viz: Two (2) Uniform Policemen and 2 other private security guards and the gardener. AU of them immediately carried out inspection of the house and wondered who must have broken into the Governor’s house unnoticed and without the usage of keys, moreso, nobody went out at night amongst all the occupants.
“While (4) Four TV Cinemas, stolen couldn’t have been taken away through from the main gates to the house unnoticed and unchallenged by the Security guards except through the Perimeter Fence of the Governor’s Private Residence.
“Our Client and all the security guards attached to the Governor’s Residence decided to report the incident to Kabala Coustain Police Station, where all of them were immediately arrested and another maintenance roofing worker the Governor’s House, who came to work on Wednesday 7th November, 2018 on the Governor’s Roof leakages, was called and arrested. They were thereafter alt transferred to the Kaduna State Police Headquarters, for further investigations on Friday, 9th November, 2018.
“We were reliably informed, the case was assigned to the Anti-Crime Department at Gabasawa, Police Station, Kaduna. The Crime Investigation Team was headed by one P Jummai and 3 others, who decided to single out our client, Mr. John Okon, now late for tortured, in order to extort by force confessions and viable evidence for their supposed investigation.
“He was so tortured that he could not use his Legs to walk neither was he strong enough to stand for 1 minutes after those series of torturing between Friday, 9th November, 2018 and Monday, 12th November, 2018, couple with the fact that he was consistently denied access to the food prepared and took to him by his wife, who was also arrested on Friday 9th November, 2018 at about 8.30pm and taken to the Anti-Crime Department for interrogation, whereas, her husband was repeatedly beaten in her presence asking him to confess to the crime and where he kept all the stolen TVs Cinemas, while Mr. John Okon pleaded to be sparred from dying apparently from Police repeated battering and torture, his wife, Mrs. John Okon, broke down in tears in the process despite her condition, as she was heavily pregnant, pleaded for her husband innocence and safety from the hands of his oppressors (Police).
“She was ordered later, to be released around 11:30pm by SP Jummai the team head, who participated in the torturing with (2) two other Sergeants and Inspectors.
“It should be noted that between Friday, 9th November to Saturday, 10th November, 2018 our client could not stand nor walk again with his feets, and had to be brought Literally by 2 Police men, about 3 times to the Governor’s Residence, under the guise that they wanted him to confess and lead the Police to where he was keeping the TV theatre Cinemas in the Governor’s Residence.
“It will interest you to note further sir, Mr. John Okon now late, was not allowed access to see any visitors, nor his wife, except on occasions, when he was literally taken to his apartment in the Governor’s House for search, that she had access to him; neither was he allowed legal representation nor taken to Court in accordance with the Kaduna State Administration of Criminal Justice Law as well as the Constitution of Nigeria after 24 hours of his arrest by the Police until he was tortured to death by the Police on 13th November, 2018.
“Our firm of Legal Practitioners only came into the case on Sunday, 11th day of November, 2018 at about 1pm and considering the time he had over spent with the Police, we met with the investigating Police Officer, who refused to disclose, his name, upon my introducing myself to him, but has 2 Tribal Marks; he only chose to relate Police own side of their investigation but refused me access to the accused person on the ground that came on Sunday, and by Police Rules and Regulation, no suspects must be allowed to be seen by anybody over the weekends, their lawyers inclusive.
“We were simply advised to report back on Monday 12th November, 2018 we left the Police Station at about 4.35pm without setting our eyes on Mr. John Okon.
“We reported back to the Police on Monday, at about 10:30am, only to be told that we needed the permission of the 2 I/C in charge of the team i.e. the team head before we could be allowed access to Mr. John Okon, and as that moment, she went for Police briefing with the Commissioner of Police; we observed on our way upstairs to meet with the investigation Police Officers that there was a kind of commotion, in their office with about 3 Police Officers, carrying a supposed suspect already in coma, fainted, being rushed out of the Police Station to a destination we did not know.
“The suspect eventually turned out to be our client Mr. John Okon, whom was confirmed to be dead in hospital, Barau Diko General Hospital and kept in the Mortuary at the moment.
“We strongly appeal to your esteemed office sir, not only to condemn this gruesome and barbaric acts of murder by your men, but to arrest, prosecute and bring them to book to face the wrath of the law.
“Incidentally and unfortunately sir, our client’s wife, had forced labour on Tuesday, 13th day of November, 2018 and delivered of her pregnancy, out of gruesome pains and depression she experienced from her husband’s ordeal.
“Neither the Police Commissioner nor the Governor of Gombe State have personally contacted the wife and family of the deceased as at moment 1 5th day of November, 2018, only to be told on phone, by same ASP Jummai, that our client died and his corpse is tying at Barau Diko General Hospital Mortuary, Kaduna.
“Sir, your swift intervention, investigation and prosecution of all culprits in the interest of justice in this murderous case is highly solicited for in the circumstance”.