By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has called on the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to urgently reopen probe into circumstances leading to the extrajudicial murder of a young man by police in Bayelsa State during the tenure of Chief Timipre Sylva as governor.
Frank made this appeal in a petition titled: “Who killed Ken Niweigha? A call to the inspector General of Police to investigate the tenure of Timipre Sylva as the Governor of Bayelsa State and police complicity in his murder” which was addressed to the IGP Egbetokun.
Frank’s petition dated 24th July, 2023, was signed by his lawyer, Ernest Onyebuchi Olenyi, Esq of Enahoro & Associates chambers based in Abuja.
The petition reads in part: “The tragic incident at the heart of this petition involves the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Ken Niweigha, a prominent figure in the Odi Community of Bayelsa State.
“According to news reports and Amnesty International’s research, the circumstances surrounding his death are highly contentious and have raised significant concerns about the conduct of the Nigerian police and the state of the justice system under the watch of the then Chief Security Officer and Governor of the State, Chief Timipre Sylva.
“On May 26, 2009, Mr. Ken was arrested by the police and subsequently taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department (State CID) in Yenagoa.
“During his arrest, he was paraded in front of the media, accused of leading the Egbesu Boys armed group in Bayelsa State, and implicated in the killings of 12 policemen, which led to the infamous Odi massacre in 1999.
“The police claimed that Ken had agreed to cooperate and lead them to his hideout in Odi, where he would surrender all his weapons and be prosecuted.
“However, conflicting narratives emerge from different sources, raising questions about the veracity of the police’s version of events.
“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), an affiliation of armed groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta, claimed that Ken Niweigha was executed by the police, asserting that extra-judicial executions are ‘shockingly common’ in Nigeria, attributing this to the lack of effectiveness within the police force.
“MEND’s accusation suggested that the police were responsible for the killing of Ken Niweigha without due legal process.
“The police, on the other hand, presented a different account of the events leading to Ken Niweigha’s death.
“Police Commissioner, Mr. Onouha Udeka stated that during the course of escorting Ken Niweigha to his hideout in Odi, a prearranged ambush took place, initiated by his gang.
“As a result, a shootout ensued between the gang and the police, in which Ken Niweigha lost his life.
“The police maintained that he was the only fatality in the exchange, and no officers were injured.
“The circumstances surrounding Ken Niweigha’s death, coupled with the broader context of extrajudicial killings in Nigeria, raise serious concerns about the conduct of the police and the need for a thorough and impartial investigation.
“The situation surrounding Ken Niweigha’s death has evoked deep concern and unrest within the Odi Community and beyond.
“As the Coordinator of Bayelsa State Volunteers in Odi, his role and relationship with the government further intensify the need for an independent investigation to establish the truth and hold accountable those responsible for his death.”
Frank who is the Ambassador of the United Liberation Movement for West Papau (ULMWP), urged the IGP to investigate the circumstances leading to the murder of “Daddy Ken” and expose the culprits to bring closure to the unfortunate incident and prevent such extrajudicial murders in future.