By Eniola Akinkuotu
With an injury at the back of his head and bruises on his body, Afolabi Ojediran cut the picture of a man who was attacked by hoodlums. But he was not. Rather, he was beaten up by a riot policeman and a soldier.
He was not only beaten, his clothes were torn and he was detained for two days at the Ikotun Police Divisional Headquarters, Lagos. To compound his woes, his niece and her children were arrested and detained, including an eight-month-old baby. He was told to cough up N25,000 before he could be released.
PUNCH METRO gathered that Ojediran’s predicament was as a result of a friction between the policeman, who was later identified simply as Vincent and Ojediran’s wife, Florence. It was learnt that Vincent had been making sexual advances to Florence but had been turned down on several occasions which caused the friction between the two.
Things however reached the peak on Saturday, when Vincent dragged Ojediran into the problem.
Narrating how it all happened, Florence said the policeman had been on her neck to be his lover. She added that the fact that both of them were married did not dissuade Vincent who seemed bent to have his way at all costs.
She said, “Vincent has always been making advances at me even though he has a wife but I never gave in. On several occasions, he had threatened to arrest me.
“I sell recharge cards, kerosene, soft drinks and I’m also a tailor. I have a lot of customers who patronise me.”
She said she first had a minor problem with Vincent on August 12, 2011. “That day, Vincent’s wife came to my shop and she met an old friend of hers whom she greeted warmly before they parted.
“Later that day, Vincent, came to my shop accusing me of trying to destroy his marriage by looking for a man-friend for his wife. He dragged me and the man in question to the Ikotun police station that day. We paid N15,000 as bail.”
Florence said since the incident, she tried as much as possible to avoid Vincent and his wife. But the measure was not enough to stop the Saturday incident from happening.
She said, “On Saturday, Vincent came to my shop and started making a nuisance of himself. I shouted at him to go away. Instead, he grabbed a 25-litre keg of kerosene which was for sale, and emptied it on the floor.”
PUNCH METRO learnt that when Ojediran returned from work, his wife reported the incident to him and in the course of trying to settle the matter, he got into trouble.
Ojediran told PUNCH METRO that he went to Vincent’s house to ask him to let his wife be. He said, “After my wife told me what Vincent had done, I went to his house to see how I could lay the issue between him and my wife to rest. But I was told by his wife that he was not around. I went to his landlord and told him about the matter before going back home.”
He said it was a furious Vincent that came to his wife’s shop an hour later. Ojediran added that the policeman rebuffed all attempts to make peace.
“I was sitting in front of my wife’s shop at the time. Vincent came with a man to the shop and refused all my efforts to make peace. Instead they started to beat me.
“They tore my clothes and hit my head against the edge of a fence. They pushed me to the floor and generally gave me the beating of my life.
“I was supposed to deliver petrol to a depot the following day and the company had given me N131,000 to deliver to someone on the way. The money fell on the floor as I was being beaten and till now, I don’t know what happened to it.
“When the residents came to my rescue, I seized the opportunity to escape from the scene because they had threatened to kill me,” he said.
After leaving the scene, Ojediran and his wife went to the Ikotun police station to report the incident. They made their statements to the police and were told to return the following day. But on the the following day, things did not go as planned.
Ojediran said, “The following day, which was Sunday, I went with some policemen to Vincent’s house, but on getting there, his wife told us that he was in hospital receiving treatment for injuries he had sustained the previous day.
“Before I knew what was happening, the policemen arrested me for assaulting a fellow policeman and locked me up at the station.”
Later that day, the policemen came back to Florence’s shop to arrest his niece, who was living with them and her children.
“Policemen came to the shop and arrested my niece, Bose Olalere, along with her three little children, including an eight-month-old baby. In fact, the policemen did not even allow them to lock up the shop. It was left wide open,” Ojediran said.
Florence added, “My husband’s niece and her children were held behind the counter at the station while my husband was locked up in the cell. When we wanted to give them food, the police officer in charge, one Matthew, said we must pay N500 before we could give food.
“When I realised that the situation was getting out of hand, I called on a lawyer for assistance but Matthew said we must pay the sum of N25,000 before they could release my husband.”
It took the intervention of PUNCH METRO before they were released. The Divisional Police Officer in charge of the police station, Mr. Austine Akika, a Chief Superintendent of Police, later told our correspondent that the issue had been resolved.
“I have handled the situation but investigations are still on-going. I was not aware of the whole case, I was only told that Ojediran was arrested for assaulting a policeman” he said.
Ojediran however said that DPO’s plea of ignorance was suspicious. “It was when policemen in that place learnt that the media were involved that they decided to release us without bail. I want the whole world to know that if I die today, it is the handiwork of policemen at Ikotun,” he said.
When contacted, Vincent told our correspondent on the telephone that on the contrary, it was Ojediran and his family members that beat him up.
“When I came home that day, I saw some hoodlums in front of my house with Ojediran and his family. They pounced on me and beat me up. I lost the money on me in the process,” he said.