A Court River State Hight Court has acquitted 14 dismissed officers over the death of a student identified as Derek, a 300 Level student in the Department of Accounting, University of Calabar, and five others were killed on April 17, 2014 on alleged robbery and related matter.
But the family of the deceased who initiated investigations into the matter insisted that Derek was killed while he was in Police detention.
A former Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone Six, Mr. Musa Daura, had conducted an orderly room trial, which indicted the 14 policemen for extra-judicial killings, upon which they were subsequently discharged from the Nigeria Police Force.
However, after two years of trial in suit No. HC/37C/2016, the judge of the state High Court (Four), Justice Obojor Ogar, in his ruling said the prosecution did not prove beyond all reasonable doubts that the accused were guilty of the charges against them.
“Each of the accused persons pleaded ‘not guilty’ from the day they were arraigned in court.
“The accused persons are not standing trial for killing six suspected armed robbers alone, but that they also killed Derek Maurice. It has not been proved.
“I find the accused persons not guilty. They are, therefore, acquitted and discharged,” he said.
While the court became a theatre of jubilation by families and friends of the 14 acquitted policemen, mother of the prime deceased, Mrs. Enoh-Maurice Enang, wept silently.
One of the counsels of the defendants, Mr. Gregory Bisong, expressed satisfaction with the judgement, saying the prosecution could not provide enough evidence to prove that the men committed the crime.
“The court has given its ruling today and it was very clear that the prosecution could not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“Fourteen accused persons were standing trial for the murder of Derek, but there was no evidence in court by name Derek Maurice.
“The police were simply on operation and there was robbery attack, which was repelled by the police,” he said.
The prosecution counsel could not be contacted for his reaction, but Derek’s mother, Mrs. Enoh-Maurice Enang, said they would take the matter to a higher court.
In an emotion-laden voice, Enang said, “This is just the beginning of the matter. Derek had a right to life. He did not commit any crime. He did not have any problem with the police. They just killed him because they felt nothing would happen.
“My son has been deprived of his right to life. I would not be deprived of justice in this case.”
Source: ( Punch Newspaper)