THE PRIMARY duty of a police officer is to
protect people and property. Regular duties of
a police officer include; patrolling designated
areas, enforcing laws, answering calls for help,
arresting individuals suspected of committing
crimes, issuing citations, testifying in court and
conducting traffic stops. Police officers also
complete reports and fill out forms regarding
incidents.
However, reports from some Police state
commands particularly Lagos and Anambra
show that some policemen have turned their
duties upside down, despite assurances by
the Police high command of a friendly police
force. Of particular concern is the Special Anti
Robbery Squad (SARS) in Ikeja and Awkuzu
respectively who have turned their offices into
torture/slaughter houses and human abattoir
superintended by blood thirsty cops.
A victim of the heinous activities of Anambra
police officers, one Chief Bonaventure Mokwe
described Awkuzu SARS as ‘That Nazi camp
headed by a man that is susceptible to mood
swings, complement of wasted human
bloods. He is the judiciary, executive and the
legislature and equally the executioner of the
people he singularly condemns’.
Mokwe is one of the very few among
numerous hapless citizens who have had
the misfortune of experiencing the dreaded
Awkuzu SARS and had the rare luck of
coming out alive. Many died in custody.
A pathetic case is that of one Chinagorom
Ihejiagwa who was arrested in May 2014 and
has remained in detention incommunicado
at SARS Awkuzu in flagrant disregard of
Court Orders. His family said he was arrested
because he refused to comply with the
demands by ‘Pele’, an operative of SARS. No
family member or lawyer has been allowed
to see Chinagorom. The O/C SARS has
contemptuously continued to disregard court
Orders to grant him bail or produce him before
the Court, says NOPRIN, a human rights
organization.
Cell 5, Awkuzu SARS is known as
‘condemned Cell’ and bears the inscription on
its wall, ‘Welcome to hell’. According to eye
witness account what takes place daily at the
Cell are violence, brutality, torture, extortion
and executions, mainly of people framed up
with kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism
and ritual killing. Only very few among the
numerous suspects that enter ‘Cell 5’ allegedly
come out alive to tell their sordid stories. And
not all who come out alive remain the same.
In Lagos, Victor Anamelechi lived with
his family at Bashorun Ogundairo Estate,
Waterside, off Ago Road, Amuwo, Lagos.
Victor’s pregnant wife, Onyinyechi was at
home with her children and some relations
on Monday, 15th December 2014 when three armed policemen in mufti stormed in with Victor,
whom they had arrested and handcuffed on the
way. The policemen turned out to be from SARS
Ikeja, led by one Sergeant Abdurahman.
Report had it that as soon as the policemen got
into Victor’s house, they started asking ‘where
is the money, where is the money!’ and when
Victor’s wife, who was terrified could not answer
them, one of the policemen hit her so hard on the
face that she fell down.
The police men allegedly set about searching
the entire house, taking with them every kobo
they found including jewelries, documents,
credentials, motor particulars, land documents
and other valuables.
Apart from Victor, the Sergeant Abdurahman
and other two men, (named Hassan and Busso)
also arrested Victor’s wife, Onyinye, their two
little children, one aged 5 and the other just above
1 year, Onyinye’s brother and her course mate,
who visited them. They forcefully took Victor’s
little dog and his two cars, Acura MDX and
Toyota Corolla Verso.
When Victor and his family were brought to
SARS, Ikeja they were taken to the torture ground
where Victor was accused of armed robbery and
subjected to a long and grueling torture in the
presence of his wife and children, as the SARS
men demanded to know where his money was
kept until he fainted.
The policemen then turned on Victor’s wife,
Onyinye, and kicked her from all sides. Despite
her pregnancy, the policemen allegedly stripped
Victor’s wife naked in the presence of everyone
there. The following day, the woman had a
miscarriage in the cell and the whole place was
filled with blood.
For three days she and the children did not
taste any food. Till date, Victor has not been
charged to court and is still in the custody of
SARS, Ikeja where he is being subjected to serial
and cruel torture. I’m sure there are many other
detainees in the Ikeja Cell passing through same
harrowing experience.
The truth is, inside most of the detention centres
across the country rooms called workshops (or
torture chambers) with an interminable number
of options for dispensing pain and suffering and
eliciting the confessions that are the principal
means of police investigation.
There are various reports indicating that
violence, brutality and torture are means by
which SARS operatives, in many cases acting at
the behest of those who contract and pay them to
help settle personal scores, punish and humiliate
innocent people. They also often parade and
summarily execute detainees to advertise their
efficiency at fighting crime.
We do not understand why Police officers
would refuse to grant detained persons access
to their family members or their lawyers and
doctors even when they need medical attention.
The result is that many of the detainees are left to
starve to death. Many others are strangulated or
summarily executed on a daily basis.
Nigerian law prohibits torture. Regional
and international human rights standards
which Nigeria subscribes to also prohibit
torture. Nothing can justify torture under any
circumstance.
Several petitions, calls and outcries to
successive police authorities to bring many erring
police officers to account for their numerous
human rights atrocities and to reorganize SARS
and the entire anti crime operations of the NPF
have gone unheeded.
Right now, hundreds of citizens are said to be
undergoing pains and suffering from gratuitous
torture, other cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment and punishment. Many others are
held incommunicado in dark, dingy and decrepit
underground cells and routinely brought out and
executed.
It is unfathomable why despite the entire
expose through petitions and media reports
on the atrocities going on at these places police
authorities have remained unperturbed.
It is time the new IGP Solomon Arase urgently
put a stop to this madness and prevents further
infliction of suffering and waste of human lives
by his men. He should order a prompt, impartial
and exhaustive investigation into the activities of
his men across the country, ensure equity, justice,
rule of law and respect for human dignity at all
times. All police men found wanting must be
disciplined to serve as deterrent to others. Lastly,
President Muhammadu Buhari must ensure that
the change his administration preaches is put to
practice now.


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