Issues of police brutality have continued to generate more talks within the country, one of the reasons the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has received negative reviews from citizens it is meant to protect.
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is in deep, as its operatives use all manner of cohesion and punishment on citizens it is meant to protect, leading to wrongful charging of suspects, massive extortion and death of culprits, in some cases.
Police brutality is not exclusive to the SARS or F-SARS, many units like the Anti-Cultism Unit, among others have been accused of committing same offence.
In a recent report, a divorcee in Akwa Ibom State, Margaret Udoh, has recounted her ordeal in the hands of men of Inspector-General of Police (IG-P) Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
Udoh, a senior nursing officer at the Ibesikpo Health Centre and pastor at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Idoro Road, has called the Nigerian Bar Association, Civil Liberty Organisation and other civil rights groups, demanding justice for the alleged sexual harassment and physical assault meted on her by these operatives of the NPF.
Yesterday, while recounting her ordeal with THE PUNCH, she alleged that about 20 officers of the unit invaded her residence on St. Christopher Avenue, Nung Uko, in the Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, in two pickup trucks on April 13, 2019.
The policemen were alleged to have scaled the fence and beaten up the victim.
Udoh said, “I am a divorcee. I live alone in my compound; none of my children lives with me. I spend most of my time in church and at work.
“I was terrified when I was awoken by heavy bangs on my gate around 1am on Saturday. Before I knew it, I saw men scaling the fence into my compound.
“They headed for the burglar-proof door and started banging it. It was at that point that I summoned courage and started making calls to my neighbours for help.
“When the intruders heard that I was making calls, they shouted at me to switch off my phone and told me that they were policemen. They asked me to open the door, but I refused.
“I refused because there had been many cases of robberies in the area for a while. It took two hours for them to break into my house with axes, hammers and broken blocks.
“They met me inside the toilet where I hid and dragged me out. They stripped me naked. One of them dipped his fingers into my private parts and breasts. He called me a witch. I was seriously manhandled. My doors, ceilings and windows were shattered.”
The woman said when her assailants asked her to produce her husband, she told them that she had been divorced for 18 years.
She said the cops later allowed her to dress up.
“They took me outside, where two pickup trucks were waiting with about 20 policemen. I was taken to Nsit Ibom LGA that night. One of them suggested that they should kill me and throw my corpse away because I was a witch.
“But another said it was not yet time. Amid the argument, I was taken to B Division in Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo. I was not told my offence; they just threw me into a cell. It was when I peeped through the charge board that I saw robbery and kidnapping written against my name.
“I have never been detained in my life and I have not been held for any offence before. So, I am surprised at the offences written against my name,” she added.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Macdon, said he was not aware of the arrest, adding that he would investigate the matter.
However, a female police sergeant at B Division, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the suspect was brought in by the IG’s team on Saturday. She refused to speak further.
Reacting to the incident, a member of the family and retired Superintendent of Police (SP), Antia Umoren, who signed the victim’s bail bond, said she was “seriously manhandled.”
“I asked what she was being charged with and they said kidnapping and armed robbery. When I got to the station, I saw her name boldly written on the suspects’ board. When she was eventually brought out from the cell, tears ran down my cheeks because she had been seriously beaten,” Umoren said.
He added: “Her name was registered on the Prisoner Lockup Register and all the items collected from her including the sum of N137,000 was entered into that register. I was kept at that station till about 4pm. I am talking to you as her surety. I signed the bail bond. I have been a police officer and till my retirement, police have never been assigned to carry axe, sledgehammer and other tools.”
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