As the Rivers State Commission of Inquiry began to entertain cases of brutality by the Nigeria Police Force in the state, a 50-year-old man has opened up on how the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) killed his three-year-old daughter.
The petitioner, Norde Sylvester, a civil servant with the Universal Basic Education (UBE) in Rivers State, spoke at the hearing of the state Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Police brutality in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
Sylvester recalled that the incident occurred on October 15, 2015, while he was outside with his family at his residence in Rumuohalu, near Port Harcourt, after they were forced to go inside as a result of sporadic shootings by SARS operatives.
“On that day, I was with my family at our place of residence, a few metres away from the SARS office located along Nelson Mandela Road, Rukpokwu. It was in the night when we went in to sleep.
“Before then, there had been this sporadic shooting by SARS men. The shooting continued till we went in to sleep. We woke up in the morning to discover that one of their bullets hit my roof and killed my only daughter, a three-year-old baby.
“I picked up the bullet the next morning and in tears, I went to the SARS office. When I got there, their men at the entrance stopped me and I told them that they had killed my daughter.
“Two of them (operatives) got up and ordered me to go back and that if I didn’t leave, I would go and join my so-called daughter. I came back in tears and went and buried the child,” he explained in tears.
However, the counsel for the Commissioner of Police, Mrs Mercy Nweke, during cross-examination, faulted the petitioners claim, wondering why he did not report the matter at the police station, noting that the bullet was not enough evidence that his daughter was killed by SARS men.
Nweke said, “This is ammunition (referring to the bullet). It has not been used. Something that has not been used cannot kill anybody.”
But the counsel for the commission, S. O. Inko-Tariah, objected, saying Nweke was not an expert and could not determine if the bullet was used or not.
The commission’s chairman, Justice Chukwunenye Uriri (retd.) said the evidence provided by the petitioner was of public interest and admitted it as an exhibit, asking Sylvester what he wanted.
“All I need is justice for my baby that they killed and also my house that was damaged,” Sylvester replied.