Some human rights activists in Bayelsa State have accused the police of deliberately slowing down investigation into the killing of a 17-year-old boy, Innocent Kokorifa.
Innocent, first out of five children of Mr. Daniel Kokorifa, an official of the Federal Road Safety Corps, was shot dead by the police Anti-Vice/Anti-Kidnapping team along Airforce Road in Yenagoa on August 18, 2016.
The deceased was said to be running an errand for his mother, Pere Kokorifa, when he was killed by the police about 11am on the day.
But the state police command claimed that the victim died during a gun battle between a three-man armed robbery gang and a police team.
The police also said that the suspects, on sighting the police, fired at the team. It added that the policemen returned the fire and one of the suspects sustained a bullet injury, while the other two suspects escaped.
The father of the victim had said his friend led the team that killed his son.
He also alleged that the fingerprint of his late son was taken by the police without his prior knowledge or that of any member of his family.
An activist and prime mover of #JusticeForInnocent campaign, Mr. Aluzu Augustine, said the handling of the investigation was far from being satisfactory.
Aluzu, in a statement on Monday, called on the Nigeria Police Force to unravel the cause of Innocent’s death.
He said the murder of Innocent had gained global attention, hence the Force should come out clean with its investigation as the human rights community would not hesitate to take legal action against it.
Aluzu reiterated his resolve to follow the case to a logical conclusion, saying he was not satisfied with the way the police were going about the matter.
He also alleged that the men of the Anti-Vice team, who allegedly perpetrated the act that led to the death of Innocent, had been thwarting efforts to get justice for the bereaved family, adding that such spoke volume of their involvement in the matter.
He insisted that no forensic evidence should be gathered without the knowledge of the deceased family, saying any attempt to do so would be resisted.
Also, a former Secretary, Civil Liberties Organisation, Bayelsa State chapter, Mr. Alagoa Morris, said the organisation was watching the entire process keenly.
He expressed the readiness of the CLO to take on the police on the matter if the police authorities tried to sweep the crime under the carpet.
Morris, who is also the state Coordinator, Environmental Right Action, said, “The police have said those involved have been identified and that orderly room trial was ongoing. What we expect now is prosecution.
“We are not against ballistic and forensic tests, but the process is what we will monitor. There is nothing wrong in the police carrying out full investigation because it is a case against the state and the suspects.
“The investigation should be holistic, involving witnesses within the vicinity where the incident occurred. Also, the statement of the parents should be juxtaposed with that of the police, especially the team that killed Innocent Kokorifa.
“Don’t forget, unless justice is done on matters like this, it can lead some members of the society to seek revenge by any means possible.”
The Coordinator, Operation Rescue, Princess Elizabeth Egbe, challenged the police to hasten up investigation and present the culprits for prosecution.
She said, “I sympathise with the police in the state in the sense that there is no forensic testing equipment in Bayelsa. If they have to carry out such tests or analysis, they take them outside Bayelsa.
“I, therefore, call on the government and the police authorities to provide such equipment in the state. There are a lot of cases that have been handled in the state in which the police destroyed the evidence either knowingly or ignorantly or because of non-availability of such equipment in the state.”
It was gathered that the police intended to do a ballistic test on the gun (pistol) allegedly recovered from the scene of Innocent’s killing.
The police had earlier claimed that they found a pistol abandoned by two fleeing suspects, said to be accomplices of Innocent on the teenager was killed.
It was further learnt that police investigators intended to take the gun to Lagos for testing to know when last the gun was fired.
Efforts to speak with the spokesman of Bayelsa State Police Command, Asinim Butswat, proved abortive as calls to mobile phone indicated it was not reachable.