A Rivers State High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, has found a five-man patrol team of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) guilty of extra-judicially killing of two friends, Michael Akor and Michael Igwe, in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the State.
The SARS team was led one ASP Samuel Chigbu.
The court also awarded N50 million compensation to the families of the deceased.
The trial judge, Justice Adolphus Enebeli, in the enforcement of fundamental human rights suit before him, declared that ASP Chigbu and his men, “undoubtedly and intentionally” killed the two young men.
He said the SARS officials violated ections of the constitution on extra-judicial executions, adding that no investigation was carried out by the Police before killing the two young graduates.
Justice Enebeli, in the judgement, said after careful consideration of all the evidence before him, it was clear that the SARS operatives failed in their responsibility to investigate and try the two Michaels before killing them.
He said claims that the two deceased were hit with bullets during a crossfire between the Police and some gunmen perceived to be members of their alleged gang, could not be substantiated.
Also, the judge said it was not a coincidence that the victims were shot “at the same part of their bodies, died at the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital at the same time and buried at the same place and time”.
Justice Enebeli further said SARS in the state has acquired the notoriety of extra-judicial killings, destroying the image of the Rivers State Police Command.
Meanwhile, Counsel for the deceased, Johnson Ejekwu, had said that a death sentence was what his clients desired and not the N50 million compensation.
Ejekwu also commended the court for its verdict and called on relevant agencies to curb the excesses of men of the SARS in the State.
On her part, Catherine Akor, the aged mother of Michael Akor, said no amount of compensation could replace what she had lost.
Catherine, while speaking after the judgement, said she also lost her husband, who suffered memory loss as a result of the killing of their son.
Chigbu and four other SARS operatives had since been dismissed from the Police Force.
They are also standing trial on murder charges and extra-judicial execution before Justice Margaret Opara of the State High Court in Port Harcourt.
Twenty-eight-year old Michael Akor and his friend, Michael Igwe, were arrested while going about their businesses on June 22, 2009, and killed in a bush in Oyigbo the following day, June 23.