Terzungwe Shaaka's family members claimed that he was man-handled by policemen and killed as a result of severe beating he received from them. The police however alleged that the deceased was an armed robber who was killed by fellow inmates in cell. Uche Nnorom reports:
The family of Shaakaa in Makurdi, Benue state capital is in deep grief over the recent demise of their son Terzungwe Shaaka who allegedly died in a police cell.
Terzungwe, aged 30 and a father of three (3), 2 boys and a girl lived on No. 15 Balewa Street and before his death was said to have engaged in menial jobs like carpentry and house building to sustain his family.
Narrating the incident that led to her brother's death, sister of the deceased, Christiana Shaakaa who spoke to Peoples Daily Weekend, said two weeks ago Terzungwe sat at a beer parlor behind WEMA bank in Makurdi drinking with some of his friends.
Christy said a certain police officer identified as George who is said to be a constable and computer operator attached to the Assistant Commissioner of Police office engaged in a altercation with her brother and in a flash, invited men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who allegedly beat Terzungwe to a point of unconsciousness and later locked him up in that condition.
She maintained that the police kept her late brother in that condition in the cell for more than five (5) days without administering any medical treatment on him.
"I made several efforts to get bail for my brother so that we could give him proper treatment but all my efforts were frustrated by top police officers at the Benue Police headquarters. They would tell me to come back the next day claiming that the IPO, one Mr. Awem handling the case was not around," she said.
Christy, who bursted into tears in the narration, dismissed as 'untrue' claims by the police that her brother was arrested for armed robbery and even fought seven inmates as well as bruised his head by hitting it against the wall inside the cell which eventually resulted in his death.
"There is no truth in what the police alleged. My brother was never an armed robbery. He was a man who struggled hard to fend for himself and his family. They killed my brother",she said sobbing.
The young lady who informed that she had reported the case to a human rights group in the state, also raised eyebrow over the manner the police deposited Terzugwe's corpse in the mortuary using someone who impersonated as their father, intimating that her dad died since 29th May, 1988.
Meanwhile, the State Public Relations Officer of the Benue Command DSP Daniel Ezeala who spoke with Peoples Daily Weekend insisted that late Terzungwe fought with inmates in the cell who beat him to death.
Ezeala said the inmates have been re-arrested and would be charged to court soon even as he discountenanced claims by Terzungwe's family members that police lodged the body at the mortuary without their consent and used a man who disguised as father of the deceased.
"There was nothing like that. Reports have it that he fought with fellow inmates and that led to his death. The inmates have been re-arrested and would soon be charged to court," the PPRO said.