When the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, came onboard as the number one policeman in the state, he spread out his aces on the table. One of the aces is to ensure a good relationship between the police and citizens of the state.
This, Owoseni was sure, would endear the police to residents of Lagos. According to him: “Image is important.”
But a horrifying event, which occurred on Sunday at the Katangua Market area of Oke-Odo, Lagos, may have dealt a heavy blow to Owoseni’s grand plan.
Three businessmen – Thomas Adeoye, Sikiru Omolade and Gafaru Raheem – are presently singing and alleging that policemen attached to the Oke-Odo Police Station tortured them to the point that one of them became unconscious. Adeoye disclosed that Omolade and Raheem are still in the hospital because of the beating they received from the policemen.
Adeoye recalled: “The three of us were brought out for brutal corporal punishment. The policemen ordered us to strip and used a thick electric cable to flog us. It was the most bizarre experience I had ever had. The torture lasted for three hours. One of us fainted and some people ran to alert the Babaloja that some Yoruba people were going to be killed at the police post. They said they wanted us to have wounds to show our children!”
Adeoye said this torture started because he and his friends refused to part with N200. One of the policemen was alleged to have said that the N200 was for “parking space”.
Adeoye noted: “I’ve been going to that market for over 15 years and had never paid for parking space!”
The men fingered their tormentors as Corporal Babangida, Francis Adinga and other policemen, all attached to Oke-Odo Station.
Adeoye, the Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Adeoye Nigeria Limited, located at Ijegun, Ikotun area of Lagos State described the experience as “agonising and dehumanizing”.
He stated that all he wanted now was justice. Justice to him means the policemen being investigated and prosecuted.
Recollecting how his ordeal and that of his associates started on August 16, 2015, Adeoye said: “It all started after I drove to Katangua Area of Oke-Odo, Lagos State in my Nissan XTERRA car to purchase some parts for the repair of one of my trucks that had broken down. I went in the company of my two associates. We had finished the transaction in the market and came out. We boarded the car and were driving off when a man in mufti appeared and flagged us down.
“He demanded for N200, which he said was for the space I parked. I told him that I was sorry that the last N200 I had with me had been given to the truck pusher that carried my goods to my car.”
Adeoye said that after the explanation, he once again tried to drive off, but the man suddenly ran to stand in front of his car.
“I thought he was an area boy. He didn’t introduce himself and wasn’t in uniform. He wasn’t even carrying a gun. He just jumped in the front of the car. It wasn’t by force to give money. I wasn’t indebted to him. He was delaying us. I started rolling the car. He jumped to the driver side of the car, lunged in through the window and snatched my two phones from the dashboard,” Adeoye recounted.
Adeoye continued his narration: “As he took my two phones, I stopped and alighted. I gripped him. He punched me on the face, at my right eye and proceeded to spray tear gas on my face. He brought out the teargas from his trouser. He totally blinded me. I couldn’t see. I held him and tried to defend myself. One man came and said I have beaten a policeman. I asked ‘where is the policeman.’ Crowd gathered, joined and started beating us. I struggled like a blind person in the midst of everybody. Accidentally, my hand hit his face. He got infuriated and called his colleagues who came to join him. They dragged me and my associates to a place I later found was a police post inside the Katangua Market. This was when I realized that a police officer attacked me.”
Adeoye said the traders in the market later told him that the name of the policeman is Corporal Babaginda.
Noting that the policemen turned their noses at human rights law, Adeoye said: “Babaginda and his colleagues pushed me and my colleagues into the cell of the Katangua Market Police Post. They sprayed more tear gas into the cell to suffocate us. They later started flogging us. This lasted between 1pm to 3pm.”
He noted that if not for the intervention of the Babaloja and a woman in the market, the policemen would have maimed them for life.
“When they managed to get the clemency of the almighty Babangida, Odinga and others, my XTERA car was impounded and the tyres deflated. This happened with all the goods in it.”
The man said that immediately he got his freedom, he ran proton to the Oke-Odo Police Station, to report the police brutality. When other policemen at the Station, saw the extent of the brutality and bruises on the men, they immediately alerted the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the station.
The DPO ordered the arrest and detention of Babangida. “I was later given a written document at the station so I could get medical attention.”
Adeoye would have swept the matter under the carpet, but went to the station on Monday, only to listen in shock as the DPO allegedly attempted to rewrite the script of what transpired.
“To my chagrin and utter disbelief, I returned to the said station on August 17, 2015 and the DPO said that area it was boys that beat me and my associates, not the police. But in a quick retort, I asked him: ‘Do area boys now use police posts, cells and tear gas?’” said Adeoye.
Adeoye has quickly written a petition to Owoseni and copied the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone II, Onikan, Lagos.
In his petition, he alleged that he was “disgracefully battered, shattered, harassed, abducted and tortured by some disgruntled police personnel, in an era when the present Inspector-General of police, Mr. Solomon Arase, is seriously concerned about public co-operation for better police services in Nigeria. I appeal to you to ensure that these erring officers, headed by Babangida face the wrath of the law because he succeeded in making good his promise to inflict injuries, which he said we must show to our children.”
As at press time, Adeoye said that his car and goods, which were seized by Babangida and his colleagues, were yet to be released to him.
Reacting to Adeoye’s allegations, the Lagos State Police spokesman, Patricia Amadin, said that policemen didn’t strip Adeoye and associates naked and never flogged them.
According to Amadin, it was actually Adeoye that punched a policeman in the eyes. She said that the police have pictorial evidence to prove this allegation.
She added: “The driver claimed that 50 policemen attacked him and his friend, but it was only three policemen personnel that were on duty that day at the police post. What happened was that the policeman flagged him down. It was a routine check. The policeman put his head into the driver’s car window, to talk with him. The driver started rolling the car, dragging the policeman along. The policeman was screaming. I don’t know what happened at that point, but the driver punched the policeman in the eyes. The driver and his associates were not stripped naked. The story was the other way round. It was the driver who beat up the policeman!”
Source: The Eagle online