By Kayode Adeoti
It is exactly nine days today that the Chairman, Ilorin branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Muhammad Idowu Akande and his colleagues, Lukman Olanrewaju Bello and Dr. Ismail Adua Mustapha suffered brutality in the hands of police officers at the ‘A’ Division Police Station while trying to secure bail of a client.
In pursuant of justice over the matter, this medium was reliably informed yesterday that the NBA has constituted a committee comprising three Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Dr. Kayode Olatoke, Kehinde Kolawole Eleja and Prof Wahab Egbewole among other lawyers to ensure justice over the matter.
Other members of the committee include; Dr. Dauda Ariyoosu, Yusuf Dikko, Yahya Alajo, the NBA legal Adviser, Adewale Oseni and a human right activist, Muitalah Sambo.
Olatoke speaking in a telephone chat with this medium confirmed that he’s the chairman of the committee but has not been around for a while.
“As I speak to you, I’m not around, I’m sitting at a tribunal, though I’m aware I’m the chairman of the committee. Necessary actions are underway over the issue,” he said.
In response to a text message to his Cell phone by a reporter seeking update on the matter, Egbewole quipped “I am not the lead counsel”.
Efforts to get update on the case from Eleja proved abortive as he did not pick calls made to his mobile line while text message sent to the same line was not acknowledged at the time of filing this report.
However, the NBA chairman stressed that the two suits of Civil Matter and Direct Criminal Complainant will be filed at Federal High Court and the State magistrate court.
According to him, Civil Matter will be headed by Olatoke while Direct Criminal Complaint will equally be chaired by Ariyoosu.
Also lending voice to the issue, the chairman Arewa Forum and Young Lawyers’ Forum (YLF), Olayinka Dauda Jimoh noted that the suits may be filed before the week ends.
“The matter will be filed before the week ends one will be at the Federal High Court while that of Criminal Conspiracy will be heard at the Magistrate Court, Jimoh stressed.
Recall that Bello, who is a member of the YLFwas said to have gone to the ‘A’ Divisional Police station to seek the release of his client who was arrested by the police but ended up in police cell same day.
The legal practitioner was said to have been stripped before being pushed inside the police cell where he was thoroughly beaten by some officers and trainees.
Bello who narrated his ordeal while receiving treatment at the Civil Service Clinic last week, said he had to feign death inside the cell in order to stay alive.
“I went to the police station on Tuesday (16th October) to seek the release of my client who was arrested by a traffic warden.
“When I saw the policeman who arrested him, I called him but he was moving fast towards the Police Training School. He then dashed out of the gate, so, I decided to turn back but I met an officer inside the premises and in a bid to explain my situation to him, he insisted that he won’t grant me audience and that I should leave the vicinity.
“I tried to persuade him saying police and lawyers are friends, he became annoyed, held my shirt and started pushing me towards the gate. I reacted just to caution him but shortly, a recruit hit me from behind with training gun and dragged me roughly. I turned my face towards him and asked, why are you doing this? He replied that I was raising my voice against a superior officer.
“A man who introduced himself as headmaster waded in but he was not actually allowed to talk. When I got outside the gate, some officers said that I should show them my Identification Card, my response was that lawyers don’t always go about with it.”
Bello said his response further annoyed the policemen as about 15 of them descended on him, stripping him before pushing him into the cell.
“When I realised that there was no way I could outmuscle them, I pretended as if I was dead.
“A female officer who claimed I held her cloth while being beaten, came into the cell with stick with some of the trainees to beat me again. While she was leaving, she spat on my face which was very derogatory. Adeyemi Mulikat was the only name I was able to pick among the officers who beat me.”
Speaking further, Bello said, when he was brought out of the police cell, he saw the Ilorin NBA Chairman and Dr. Mustapha who took his picture.
“While I was being returned to the police cell, Mulikat said, if I pass a night in the cell, I will forget ever coming to this world.”
For Dr. Mustapha, a Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, his male genital is yet to function well following his alleged attack by the police.
He said, “My manhood is paining me, I don’t even know how to use it now. I’ve never seen such harassment in my life, the trainees also joined the Police Officer to beat us.
“If police want to arrest, they can do it but in a lawful manner. We know those who perpetuated the act, what we want the police to do is to arraign them,” Mustapaha stated.
Akande also said, “For less than four months that I’ve been NBA chairman, this is the fourth time I’m witnessing such occurrence. My colleague was detained, dealt with over a reason not tenable. When we visited the station to seek his release, my colleague was already stripped to his underwear.
“While we were going, we took his picture and that was what infuriated them. They tried to destroy the phone but we managed to escape. When we got outside, I raised my voice. They came after us and beat us with various things. I shouted, I’m the NBA chairman, that did not work.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Fafowora Bolaji has held a peace talk with the Ilorin NBA over their humiliation by the officers, while promising that anyone found guilty of the crime will face the wrath of the law.
In a statement he issued yesterday, the police boss said, “Sequel to the complaint received by the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State Police Command, Ilorin, CP Fafowora Bolajii, to the effect that some men of the Nigeria Police, attached to the Police Training School, Ilorin assaulted lawyers over an issue that could ordinarily be resolved if professionalism was brought to bear by parties concerned, which resulted in the ugly situation.
“The command wishes to state with every sense of responsibility that the situation is highly regretted and the command’s sympathy extended to the victim.”
The CP further said he has directed investigation into the matter while reiterating that misunderstanding of such nature should not be allowed to create a clog in the wheel of partnership that is in existence between the Nigerian Bar Association and the police in the state.
It added that the Kwara State Police Command under the leadership of Fafowora will never allow the rights of any citizen to be trampled on by any officer.