By Akanimo Sampson
The worrisome spate of extrajudicial killings by the armed security forces in Rivers State, one of Nigeria’s strategic oil and gas states, is a matter of concern to Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Governor Wike who is a lawyer by profession has already announced that the State Government under his watch will set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to ensure that the Police personnel who killed Dr Ferry Gberegbe, a PDP Collation Agent in Khana, an Ogoni community, are brought to justice .
Before now, the Office of the Citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a human rights group, had accused the police of being involved in the extrajudicial killing of over 40 Nigerians in 2016.
Vanguard, one of the leading national dailies in Nigeria, quoted the convener of the group, Pelumi Olajengbesi, a lawyer as saying that ‘’the Nigeria Police Act empowers the personnel to conduct searches on anybody reasonably suspected to have committed a crime or who is in custody of anything that can amount to a breach of the peace or inimical to national security. However, this power is not absolute.’’
The rights group said they are worried that the Nigerian Police tend to use ‘’this power that is vested in them by the law in a very reckless manner an that is why we are calling on the government and the leadership of the police to tame all of these officers who are abusing the fundamental rights of Nigerians across the country.’’
Olajengbesi urged victims of police brutality to speak out and reach out to its officers, promising to defend for free, such people.
In the meantime, Governor Wike has announced a N200 million scholarship for the four children of the Late Dr Gberegbe, directing the widow of the deceased to open bank accounts for each of the four children.
‘’We will set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to ensure that the culprits are brought to Justice. It is unfortunate that the police killed the PDP Collation Agent. The State Government will offer scholarship to the four young children left behind by the deceased. The Mother of the children should open dedicated account for each of the children. The State Government will pay N50 million to each of the four children for their education’’, Wike said.
He was speaking in Port Harcourt, the state capital, when he led leaders of the state on a condolence visit to the family of the slain lecturer, where he decried the shooting of the late lecturer by men of the Special Armed Robbery Squad under the command, Akin Fakorede, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, at the Khana Collation Centre, where he served as the PDP Collation Agent. He said the fatal shots led to his death.
Continuing, Wike said, ‘’it is most unfortunate that the young man was shot dead by F-SARs led by Akin Fakorede in an attempt to cart away election results. Instead of us to allow people to choose who will represent and govern them, the security agencies will not allow that. Rather they prefer to kill us.
‘’He died in the course of the defending the PDP. He died in the course of defending democracy. I want to assure the family that all those who killed him will not go free. The Late Dr Ferry Gberegbe remained committed to the PDP even on his sick-bed. He sent me a text message saying he will very happy when Governor Wike is declared winner of the election.’’
The state government will also construct a house for the family of deceased and participate in his burial.
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus said the late lecturer was a victim of the calculated oppression of the oil rich states by the Army and the police special outfit, pointing out that the country is in distress.
While noting that the country is sitting on the leg of gun-powder in view of the negative activities of the Federal Government, he added that the SARS Commander, Akin Fakorede will kill several people and he cannot be transferred or disciplined.
Widow of the deceased, Mrs Funke Gberegbe, said that the family is yet to fully celebrate the doctorate degree bagged by Dr Gberegbe before he was brutally murdered by F-SARs operatives at the Collation Centre. She said that her late husband was the pillar of the family whose sudden death will negatively impact their lives.
Father of the deceased, Conduct Gberegbe said he was shocked by the killing of his son by F-SARs operatives.
The retired police officer described the late academic as his hope and future, while Ben Lekia, brother of the deceased, said the slain academic only recently bagged his doctorate and was preparing to make further progress before he was cut down.