17-year-old in coma after police torture

Police Chief Ogbonnaya Onovo

The life of a 17-year-old radio mechanic, Osadebamwen Okonigene, now hangs in the balance after he was allegedly tortured by the police in Afuze, headquarters of Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State.

His father, Mr Okonigene, said the boy, who is now in a coma at the intensive care unit of Afuze General Hospital, was invited by a police officer, named Friday Eleson, to come to the Afuze divisional police station to help fix a faulty electronic gadget.

On getting there, however, the story changed, as the young man was allegedly detained and tortured for three days over an allegation of theft. The father lamented that during the three days of torture, his son’s private part was burned with candlelight.

“After waiting for my pikin for three days, I no see am. Na im I come go to the police station. I see say dem beat am, beat am, put am inside cell. Dem burn im penis, and e no come dey fit talk again,” the father said.

Mr Okonigene said when he asked to take his son to the hospital, the policemen demanded N10, 000 for bail, which he said he had to pay before the boy was released to him.

When NEXT visited the hospital, the agonizing groans of Osadebamwen could be heard from the adjourning room, apparently owing to the excruciating pain he was going through.

Mr Okonigene pleaded with the state police commissioner, Kachi Udeoji, to come to his aid by fishing out the perpetrators of the act and to make them state his son’s offence that warranted such inhuman treatment.

The Edo State police spokesperson, Peter Ogboi, said the Afuze divisional police officer has been summoned to explain the circumstances that led to the alleged torture. He said any of his men found culpable will face disciplinary action.

“If, in the final analysis, the team of investigators found out that the boy had been unduly tortured, of course the policemen who did that will be identified and dealt with,” he said.

In recent times, international right groups have condemned elements of the Nigeria Police for acts of torture and extra judicial killing.

Burnt fingers

Similarly, residents of No. 70, Obakhawaye Street, Benin City, yesterday discovered that the hands of a six year-old girl, Mercy Abu, has been severely burnt, allegedly by her guardian.

The woman, a staff of the federal high court, was said to have placed the hands of Ms Abu over the flames of a kerosene stove on Sunday morning because she had gone out to play with her friends without her guardian’s permission.

Sylvester Eweka, a youth leader in the neighbourhood, said that he was intimated of the incident by some women in the area. He said when he arrived at the scene, he discovered that the little girl had been locked up since the incident occurred, and was being treated with a home remedy of fuel and ink.

The Edo State commissioner of women affairs, Meimunat Momodu, who visited the scene, condemned the act. She advised parents and guardians to be patient with their wards and desist from acts of violence against children.

“When children are stubborn, all we can do as parents is to try to find out what is responsible for their stubbornness. I believe no matter how stubborn a child is, we should try to show that child some element of love; counsel the child. And even if we are going to scold the child, let the child know why you are scolding him.”

A son of the culprit became a victim of mob action, as an angry crowd descended on him for refusal to disclose the whereabouts of his mother to them. The woman, however, subsequently gave herself up to the police and is currently being detained at the Aideyan police station in Benin City.