Awka – The family of Anwulika Nweke who was allegedly shot dead by Army personnel during the ENDSARS protest in Awka, have cried out over the rejection of their complaint by the Anambra Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality, Extrajudicial Killings and Other Related Matters.
Anwulika, who is from Umuzocha Village, Awka, Anambra State, was said to have been shot dead on the 24th of October, during the aftermath of the ENDSARS protest in Awka the State Capital.
Her sister, Uchenna Nweke, who was with her on the same day, had also sustained serious injury wounds on her back and on the arm.
The family had filed a complaint at the Panel inaugurated by Anambra State Government last month.
The family and its counsel were invited to the panel on the 10th day of Nov,2020 and the matter was called up and appearances announced for the petitioner.
But after the announcement, the Panel, through its chairman, Justice Veronica Umeh, said it cannot entertain the matter, on the ground that the terms of reference for the panel is specifically about SARS and police and not Nigeria Army.
The victim’s sister, Uchenna, a single mother of two, regretted that the refusal of the Panel to look into their matter, has limited their chances of getting justice as they had hoped to get justice there.
Narrating how her sister was murdered to TNC correspondent, Uchenna regretted that life has been very difficult for their family as the late sister was the breadwinner of the family.
“I was coming back with my sister on that day when we met some people trying to access a vehicle containing COVID-19 palliatives at Agu-Awka when some military men numbering about 12, came to the crowd and began to threaten them with guns to leave the venue or face the consequences.
“As we were about to leave, they started shooting at the crowd and a bullet hit my sister on the waist and she fell into a nearby drainage and as I was about to run back and secure her, another bullet hit my shoulder and pierced through my left hand. I then raised alarm and with the help of some boys, I brought her out and took her to Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Amaku-Awka where she was confirmed dead and her body deposited at the mortuary.
“I and my sister are the only children of our mother and my sister has been the one supporting our family and even training my two children in school as I am only an apprentice. My mother is an Akara seller and makes little or nothing. As a matter of fact, since that incident, she hasn’t been able to go for her business,” she lamented.
Uchenna lamented that since her sister’s death, no one has reached out to the family to inquire about what happened, while her sister’s corpse lies in the hospital three weeks after.
According to her, the late sister was supposed to get married this December and they terminated her ambition.
She called on the State Government to investigate the killing of her sister and bring the shooters to book.
Uchenna also appealed to the State Government to come to the aid of the family as according to her, life has been tough since the breadwinner was abruptly terminated.
When contacted, Counsel to the family, Stephen Omeh said they are still exploring other options for redress, although none has proved fruitful.
Commenting on the issue, a Rights activist, Okey Nwanguma, observed that whether the Panel can inquire into military misconduct, depends on its instrument and terms of reference, but expressed the view that the panel should look into the matter, since its counterparts in other parts of the country are doing same.
“Based on information at my disposal, I think whether or not the Anambra State Judicial Panel of Inquiry can inquire into military misconduct such as extrajudicial killing, depends on the instrument and terms of reference for the panel. If the terms of reference do not restrict the panel, then it can. The Lagos panel is currently inquiring into the military shooting at Lekki Toll Gate. Also, a public inquiry in 2016, found that the Nigerian army killed 347 Shia Muslims and dumped them in a mass grave in the northern city of Kaduna late 2015. If these panels can entertain such matter, then why won’t the Anambra Panel?” he queried.