Despite receiving training on human rights of citizens, officers of the Nigeria Police Force have continued to unlawfully detain, torture, and harass members of the public, victims of police abuse told a human rights panel in Lagos.
No fewer than six of victims of police officers torture, extortion and harassment testified at the public hearing on Monday.
27-year-old, Sylvester Ihejirika, narrated how he bought a 1999 model of Toyota Sienna from a car dealer in Port Harcourt for which he had a balance of N10, 000 to pay.
He said the car dealer’s stern demand for the balance turned to threats and finally police arrest.
He was detained at the Olusegun Obasanjo Police Command in Port Harcourt for a day and later transferred to Benin, Edo State, where he spent another day in police custody. Thereafter, he was moved to Obada in Ogun State where he was held in police detention for over two weeks.
Ihejirika said he was beaten, maltreated, and his family members extorted over N170,000, part of the money which was paid through electronic bank transfer to one investigative police officer known as ‘Scorpion.’
Another victim, Blessing Taiwo, a 43-year-old Administrative Officer with Afri-Invest, Lagos, was arrested by the police on the accusation by her boss, Abiola Ojo-Sanni that she stole about $50,000 from the office while she travelled.
Her case was transferred, from the Ikoyi Division where she was arrested, to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit in Panti, Yaba.
She said while in detention, the police extorted various sums of money from her family and colleagues who were also detained along with her, adding that her younger sister and the wife of one of the co-detainees were sexually harassed by men of the Anti-kidnapping Unit.
Her case attracted media attention and led to the new Lagos Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, ordering an investigation into the sexual harassment claims, the report of which is yet to be made public.
Mrs. Taiwo requested that having been found innocent, she ought to be cleared by the police and restored to her job.
Another lady, Ann Okpara, was arrested by officials of the Intelligence Response Team at the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters on July 14, 2017, at Igando, Lagos.
According to Mrs. Okpara, 36, she was arrested in lieu of her husband whom the police alleged was an accomplice to Evans, the billionaire kidnapper who is currently facing criminal trial.
Amidst tears, she narrated to the panel how she was manhandled in the process of her arrest and taken into detention at the Lagos State Police Command, where she was beaten to the point of coma.
The police officers who carried out the acts, according to her, included one Philip, Christian, and Idowu. She said she received injuries to her forehead, scars of which she still carries.
Her husband, Linus, thinking his wife had been kidnapped, reported the case to the Igando Police Station.
Mrs. Okpara said she was later led by the police to arrest her husband at their home in Igando and the man, a civil engineer by profession, is still being held at the Lagos State Police Command for over three months.
At the time of her arrest, Mrs. Okpara said she was nursing a baby who was delivered prematurely, adding that the police ignored it and took her into detention for over two weeks.
She further said the police collected N50,000 from her brother purportedly to release her; took her to their home and collected the few valuables they could lay hands on, including a rechargeable fan, ladies handbags which she sells and the husband’s car, a Toyota Camry, 1999 model. They further collected N40,000, N5,000 and another N20,000 from her husband.
Mrs. Okpara said her sister was threatened and intimidated at the Police Command and N1,000 collected from her. On August 9, she said the police demanded another N170,000 out of which N100,000 was given to them.
She requested for the release – or that he be charged to court – of her husband whom she said is asthmatic and also suffering from hernia.