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On The Unresolved Murder Of Mr. Eze Okoro By Drunk Operatives Of SARS Ikeja And The Denial Of Justice

Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) is a network of 46 civil society organisations spread across Nigeria and committed to promoting police accountability and respect for human rights. It was established in 2000 to provide opportunity for civil society input to police reform processes and the enhancement of safety, security and justice.

Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) is a network of 46 civil society organisations spread across Nigeria and committed to promoting police accountability and respect for human rights. It was established in 2000 to provide opportunity for civil society input to police reform processes and the enhancement of safety, security and justice.

NOPRIN hereby writes to you on behalf of Mrs. Ugona Okoro, the widow of late Mr. Eze Okoro who was murdered in cold blood on March 8, 2013 in front of his family residence by drunk operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad  (SARS) Ikeja Lagos.

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We write with particular reference to the letter addressed to your Excellency by the widow dated 09/04/2013 wherein she appealed for your assistance to enable bear the burden of the education of her only son and the upkeep of her late husband’s aged mother and other dependents left to her care with the painful killing of her husband in the prime of his life thereby depriving the family of their breadwinner.

Recall, sir, that on March 8, 2013 police officers from SARS, Ikeja, without any provocation or justification, shot Mr. Eze Okoro at close range at the back, killing him instantly. The victim was killed near his residence at No. 1, Oguntolu Street, by Meiran Bus Stop, Alagbado. Eye witnesses in the residence informed NOPRIN that the policemen who perpetrated this atrocious act had spent 6 hours drinking at a nearby Olak’s Hotel close to the residence of the victim before they set out on the deadly operation that led to the brutal murder of Mr. Okoro. The policeman who shot him refused to listen to his pleas and explanations that he was a resident in the area and that he just returned from work and was sitting out for some fresh air since there was no light.

In a letter addressed to the Office of the Public Defender, Lagos State dated 11th July, 2013, Mrs. Ugonna Okoro further elucidated: ‘Police (SARS from Ikeja) claimed they had come for some robbers at the Hotel and that the robbers had escaped into our street hence the shooting.’

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‘They had also claimed that they had captured one of the robbers who could not identify my husband as a member of their gang and it was at that point they said they realized an innocent man had been killed. However they preferred to state that it was collateral damage and not cold blooded murder of an innocent citizen.’

She stated further, ‘subsequently I had petitioned Governor Fashola (as the Chief Security Officer of Lagos State) on the matter following which Mr. H. Odumosun (Commander RRS Ikeja) on the Governor’s instructions called the family and the commander SARS Ikeja, Mr. Abba Kyari, to a meeting in his office at Alausa Ikeja on 25th April 2013.’

‘All parties came with delegates and the appeal from Mr. Odumosu and Mr. Kyari was for the family to accept the incident as God’s will.’

‘Mr. Odumosun stated he would plead with the Governor to come to the aid of the family on compassionate grounds provided I would do a letter in that regard to the Governor. The SARS Commander on his part promised to pay the mortuary bills as well as give money for the burial of my husband and give me five hundred thousand naira for my upkeep. The SARS people went as far as buying the casket and hiring the ambulance that conveyed my husband’s body to the village for burial on 8th June 2013.’

'Mr. Odumosu on his part has not been answering our texts and calls and when he answered my cousin-in-in-law on 31st May 2013, he said we could go to court if we liked since I was busy garn ting interviews to the press.’

‘He said the matter would go on until they had all left the Police Force and I would end with nothing. These were certainly very coarse insensitive words because we live in a society where there is Crass Injustice particularly for the poor.’

'I am therefore bringing my prayer to you for justice even as I am a poor woman widowed prematurely by the police.’

NOPRIN considers Mr. Odumosu's dismissive comment to the widow as very insensitive, inhumane and unbecoming of a uniformed officer paid with public funds to protect lives and property.

NOPRIN requests Your Excellency to heed the poor widow's plea for assistance to cushion  the burden imposed on her by the brutal and senseless murder of her husband by drunken policers officers.

The Police Officers responsible for that deadly and unprofessional operation should be brought to account.


Yours Sincerely,

Okechukwu Nwanguma

National Coordinator



Mr. Eze Okoro (46), native of Obowo, Imo State and residing with his family (his wife, Mrs. Ugonna Okoro {39} and their only child, Favour, a 6-year old boy) at No. 1, Oguntolu street, by Meiran Bus Stop, Alagbado, Lagos was a business man until he met his untimely and tragic death in the hands of those charged and paid to serve and protect him.

He and his wife ran a successful frozen food business at No.2, Oguntolu Street, near to their residence. He had another shop where he sold shoes. He was well known, loved and patronised by virtually every neighbour in the area.

According to NOPRIN’s findings, Mr. Eze had closed work on the fateful day (March 8, 2013) and had returned home at about 8pm, took his bath and dinner and then went outside to join his friends Mr. Chinedu Nwonu and his pregnant wife who were already seated out for some fresh air within their compound. He was wearing a pair of ‘boxers’ and slippers, and hung his shirt on his shoulder.

As they were chatting, they noticed a man standing beside them making calls and speaking in low tones but they did not suspect anything. Shortly after, their discussion was interrupted by sporadic gun shots. This prompted them and other residents to take to their heels. The pregnant woman fell down as she was running. An armed policeman approached her and she pleaded with the policeman not to shoot her as she was pregnant. She pointed at her husband, who had also been accosted by another policeman. She pleaded with them not to kill him, explaining that they were residents and only came outside with friends to get some fresh air as there was no light.

At the same time, another police officer had accosted Mr. Eze Okoro who was also pleading and explaining that he is also a resident and was outside with his friends to get some fresh air. While he was still explaining, with his hands up, one of the policemen pulled the trigger and shot him point blank at the back. He fell on the ground in a pull of his own blood and the police bundled him into their vehicle and drove away.

When Mrs. Ugonna Okoro, his wife came out with other neighbours to find out what had happened to him, she only saw one leg of her husband’s slippers and his shirt, with so much blood at the scene where he was shot.

She said the Manager of a nearby Olak’s Hotel told her that the police only shot her husband on the leg and had taken him to an undisclosed hospital.

Some residents and Olak’s hotel staff members later revealed that the policemen who carried out this deadly operation had been seated and drinking for 6 hours at Olak’s Hotel with the Manager popularly known as ‘Alhaji Adewumi, before they embarked on the operation.

The Hotel Manager also told Mrs. Okoro that the police officers had been on surveillance for 3 days before that day and that they were from Team ’O’, Federal SARS, Ikoyi. He gave her full details of what he claimed to be the vehicle the police officers came with and with which they carried away the deceased: a Silver-coloured Toyota Siena with Reg. No. KJA 280 BD among other details.

That same night, Mrs Ugonna Okoro accompanied by some neighbours went to the nearby Meiran Police Station to inquire about the police officers and her husband’s whereabouts. They were told that there was no report of such incident either before or after the operation.

They also went to the Police Area Command at Alakoko, and were also told that there was no report of the incident.

Then they went to the SARS, Ikeja and the officers they met told them that they did not know about the incident.

They went to Police Area Command, Idimu and were also told that there was no such report.

On Monday March 11, 2013 the 2I/C SARS informed a family member that there was a casualty when his ‘boys’ went for operation, and that they took the casualty to the hospital, but he could not survive.

On Tuesday, March 12, four days after the incident, the victim’s brother, Innocent Okoro accompanied by other family members, went back to Meiran Police Station. The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) instructed the DCO to give them a note to go back to SARS, Ikeja. When they took the note to SARS, the 2I/C Mr. Peter took them to the O/C SARS, Mr. Abba Kyari who apologised and told them it was a case of mistaken identity. The O/C SARS detailed 3 policemen to accompany them to Yaba Military Hospital to identify the corps. He gave directive to the officers that if they confirm the corpse to be that of Eze Okoro, they should bring it back to Ikeja General Hospital Mortuary. The victim’s brother identified the corpse as that of his brother, Eze Okoro. The police eventually brought back the corpse to Ikeja General Hospital Mortuary where it is lying at the moment.

On that same Tuesday 12th March, the O/C SARS caused a publication to be made in some newspapers, including the Guardian on page 12 claiming that SARS of the Lagos State Police arrested suspected bank robbers with assorted arms and ammunition. The report, among other claims said that ‘an innocent passerby was said to have been hit by the robber’s bullet and he died instantly’ while exchanging fire with the robbers at Abulegba…’

On Friday March 15, 2013 the victim’s younger brother and some family elders went back and met the 2i/c and the O/C SARS. They repeated it was a mistake and urged them to fix a burial date and let them know, and promised to make a financial contribution towards the burial.

The police informed the family that an autopsy had been carried out. But the family was not represented during the autopsy.

The pathologists at the Ikeja General Hospital told the family representatives that the results of the autopsy and coroner will be out in 6 weeks time, but that the reports will only be given to the police since they were the ones who deposited the corpse; only the death certificate will be given to the family.

While at the Ikeja General Hospital on the day the corpse was transferred from Yaba, the victim’s family members realised that SARS officers had on the same day they killed Eze Okoro, brought his corpse to the mortuary claiming he was an armed robber. But the Doctor rejected it because the police did not present any documentation; hence they took the corpse to the Military hospital, Yaba. They had to obtain a card before the corpse was eventually admitted at the Ikeja General Hospital mortuary.

A few days after this incident, two police officers from the Federal SARS, Ikoyi identified as CSP OMOLE OLA (07030087177) and DSP LEKAN OGUNDARE (07036323864) visited the Eze Okoro family just to inform them that they were not the ones that killed Mr. Okoro. They emphasised that there is no such team as ‘Team ‘O’ in the Federal SARS as claimed by the Management of Olak’s Hotel, and apparently as reported in the news. The federal SARS officers later went to see the Management of Olak’s Hotel and left from there.

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