A 52-year-old woman, Victoria Agori, has lamented her inability to retrieve the corpse of her son, Daniel, about four years after he was killed by policemen in Aluu, Rivers State.
PUNCH Metro reports that Daniel, who was 19 years old when he was killed, was said to have been shot in the presence of her mother by operatives of the disbanded Inspector General of Police Monitoring Team on May 11, 2019.
Since then, all efforts made by the family to retrieve their son’s corpse for burial had not yielded results.
Among other efforts, the family took the matter before the National Human Rights Commission which in December 2021 announced payment of monetary compensation to 27 victims of police brutality.
While appreciating the panel for the compensation, the bereaved mother who was one of the beneficiaries of the NHRC’s decision insisted that the real justice for her would be when her son’s corpse was released to her for burial and those who killed him fished out and prosecuted.
Four years after, however, Mrs Agori is not only living with the pain of the gruesome murder of her son, but she is also bitter that his corpse has not been found.
Efforts made to retrieve the corpse from the morgue of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital where the policemen claimed it was kept had not yielded results.
In an interview with PUNCH Metro on Tuesday, Mrs Agori called on the public to assist her retrieve her son’s corpse.
She said, “The panel asked the policemen involved in the murder where the body of my son was, and they told the panel that the body was in the UPTH. The panel then ordered them to provide me with my son’s body so that I can bury him. I need help. I need to find my son’s corpse. I want Nigerians to help me beg the police to produce my son’s body.
“I went to the morgue last year when the panel gave the order for the police to produce the body. I have the letter of the panel with me. We spoke with the senior doctor and even the mortuary attendants. They searched all the corpses in the mortuary; they could not find my son’s body.
“We searched even with Daniels’ picture; we could not find his body. We searched one by one but we could not see Daniel’s body. This is four years now and even the commissioner of the police has refused to say anything concerning the body of my son.”
Meanwhile, in a letter dated March 28, 2022, titled “Release of The Corpse of Daniel Agori” addressed to the Chief Medical Director of the UPTH, and duly acknowledged by the management with a stamp on April 1, 2022, which was sighted by PUNCH Metro, showed that there was an approval for the release of Daniel’s corpse since 2022.
Daniel’s father, Mr Agori, also corroborated his wife’s claim in an interview with PUNCH Metro on Tuesday.
He said staff members at the hospital later opened up to the family that Daniel’s body could not be found.
When contacted, the hospital’s acting Public Relations Officer, Elabha Meni, while saying that the family should have written formally to inform management about the missing body, denied knowledge of the incident.
“We have not heard of that kind of a thing. That kind of report has not come to the management. They should make a formal request. I don’t even think that kind of thing is possible.
“They should make a formal request to the management. It is only if the management cannot do anything about it that is when it can reach journalists. It is not verifiable. They should have formally informed the management,” the spokesperson of the UPTH told PUNCH Metro on the telephone.
Also, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Grace Iringe-Koko, said she was not the command’s spokesperson as of the time of the incident, adding that she would have to review the case.
“My phone will soon go off; I am currently at an event. I need to go back (on the case) because I wasn’t there in 2019,” she said.
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