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Calls Mount for New Investigation into Governor Timipre Sylva-Era Police Killing in Bayelsa

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ABUJA, Nigeria – Timi Frank, a former official of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is urging the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Kayode Egbetokun, to reopen an investigation into a case of alleged extrajudicial killing by police during the tenure of former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva.

Frank, who previously served as APC’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, appealed in a recent petition addressed to IGP Egbetokun.

The document, submitted on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, by Frank’s lawyer, Ernest Onyebuchi Olenyi, is a passionate plea for answers in the decade-old death of Ken Niweigha, a prominent figure in the Odi Community of Bayelsa State.

“The tragic incident at the heart of this petition involves the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Ken Niweigha,” states the petition, dated July 24, 2023. “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 then Chief Security Officer and governor of the State, Chief Timipre Sylva.”

Niweigha’s death took place in 2009 when he was arrested by the police on charges of leading the Egbesu Boys armed group, which was implicated in the notorious Odi massacre of 1999.

After his arrest, he was taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department (State CID) in Yenagoa, where police claimed he had agreed to lead them to his hideout and surrender his weapons.

However, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, an alliance of armed groups in the Niger Delta, has long argued that Niweigha was executed by the police, stating that such extrajudicial executions are “shockingly common” in Nigeria.

“MEND’s accusation suggested that the police were responsible for the killing of Ken Niweigha without legal process,” the petition added, seeking a thorough investigation into the events that led to Niweigha’s death and the role played by the then-state governor, Chief Sylva.

As the quest for justice persists, the reopening of this case could provide long-awaited answers to Niweigha’s family and offer a stark view into police conduct during a period of intense unrest in the Niger Delta.

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