A High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, has found a five-man patrol team of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, also known as SARS, guilty of extrajudicial killing of two friends.
The SARS operatives were led by one Samuel Chigbu while the victims of extrajudicial killing were Michael Akor and Michael Igwe in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the south-south Nigerian state.
Michael Akor (28) and his friend, Michael Igwe, were said to have been arrested while going about their businesses on 22 June, 2009 by the security agents, who eventually killed them in a bush in Oyigbo the next day.
Apart from finding the SARS operatives guilty, the court ordered the Nigeria Police to pay a N50 million compensation to the families of the victims.
The judge, Justice Adolphus Enebeli, gave the order in an enforcement of fundamental human rights suit that was brought before the court, even as he asserted that ASP Chigbu and his men intentionally killed the two men.
Justice Enebeli noted that no investigation or trial was carried out by the security agents before shooting and killing the two young graduates, adding that their action was contrary to some sections of the Constitution.
Explaining that the alibi that the deceased were hit by bullets during a crossfire between the police and a group of hoodlums were not substantiated, the judge insisted that it was not a coincidence that the two victims were shot at the same part of their bodies.
The judge added that victims of extrajudicial killing died at Briathwaite Memorial Hospital and buried at the same place and at a similar time.
He specifically said that SARS in the state had acquired the notoriety of extrajudicial killings, adding that this was destroying the image of the state police command.
It will be recalled that Chigbu and four other erring SARS operatives had since been dismissed from the police force after the incident.
The five SARS operatives are also standing trial for murder and extrajudicial execution before Justice Margaret Opara of the State High Court in Port Harcourt.
Speaking after the judgement, the counsel for the late victims, Johnson Ejekwu, maintained that a death sentence for the offending SARS operatives would have been better than a N50 million compensation.
Ejekwu, however, thanked the court for the ruling, even as he suggested that relevant authorities should intervene and help to stop the extrajudicial killings by men of SARS in Rivers State.
But the mother of one of the deceased, Mrs Catherine Akor, lamented that no amount of compensation would bring back her son.
She added that the murder of her son had also caused her spouse memory loss, adding that her husband is currently experiencing a terrible health condition as a result of SARS operatives’ action.