Brutality and torture still a handy tool for Nigeria police

The brutality continues

By Bose Adelaja

Imagine a situation where a man paid to protect and guard you suddenly turns against you, using the weapons procured by you for that purpose. That is, instead of using these tools to safeguard you, he turns around to intimidate, bully, maim, dehumanise and even kill you in the process.

This is how many civilians  have come to see the Nigeria Police Force as represented by its officers and men. This is especially so by those who had at one time or the other fallen victim or been exposed to inhuman treatment, anger, immorality, zealousness, drunkenness or bad orientation on the part of the Police.

A couple of months into year 2012, there have been several cases of innocent citizens shot by police men who claim in most cases that such were acts of accidental discharge. Indeed the first quarter of the year has been characterised by incidents where innocent lives were either lost or individuals maimed due to the misuse of arms by the Nigeria police.

On January 10, one Abiodun Ademola was shot dead while four persons sustained gunshot injuries on Yaya Abatan Street in Ogba after the Divisional Police Officer of Pen Cinema Police Station, Mr. Segun Fabunmi, allegedly shot into a crowd of youths who gathered to play football and read newspapers during the nation wide strike against the removal of fuel subsidy.

Although the State government has promised to sue the State Police Command and the killer DPO and to demand for a N500 million compensation for the victim, members of the deceased’s family are still struggling to come to terms with  the untimely death of their son.

Also on Saturday February 17, 2012, a policeman man identified as Corporal Emmanuel Okujo shot his former girlfriend in the face with his service pistol and absconded with his victim’s younger sister to an unknown destination.

The incident happened when the suspect attached to Ifako Police Division, Lagos, invaded the one-room apartment occupied by the two sisters, Blessing Isabor, 22 and Patience Isabor, 18, at No. 12 Ifateludo Street, Bariga, Lagos, at about 7:30 a.m., brandishing a pistol and seething with murderous rage.  He fled the crime scene with Patience to an unknown destination.

Residents of Lagos-Badagry expressway will not forget the violence that ensued on Sunday February 12 when a police corporal attached to Onireke Division, shot and killed a 56-year-old man, Daniel Nigeria, inside a commercial bus. The policeman, identified as Kazeem Shittu, with Force number 3538000, had forcefully demanded N50 from the bus conductor and then the unexpected happened.

The incident occurred at the Barracks axis of Lagos-Badagry Expressway when the officer was said to have accosted the commercial bus heading for Mile 2 at a check point mounted in front of Onireke Police Station and ordered the bus conductor to pay him N50 for plying the route.

The conductor reportedly refused to obey the order and was threatened by the police officer who later cocked his AK-47 rifle and shot at him. The most recent of such shooting incidents took place on Sunday February 12, at Jakande Estate, Isolo when an IT engineer with Dell, Hussein Akinwande, was shot by a policeman identified as Corporal Tayo and attached to the Ejigbo division.

Trouble started around 10pm of that fateful day when Akinwande, in company of his relatives, was  returning from a naming ceremony. They were on board two yellow commercial buses which ran into a serious gridlock at Jakande Bus-stop caused by a trailer which had broken down there and blocked one of the lanes.

When the gridlock persisted for hours and with a towing vehicle nowhere insight, some youths attempted to push the truck off the road so that vehicles could move freely but their effort proved abortive. Consequently some motorists resorted to driving against the traffic in order to escape from the traffic jam.

Narrating his ordeal to Vanguard Metro, Akinwande who said he was shot on the leg and sustained other injuries, also informed that the driver of one of the yellow buses was stripped naked by the trigger-happy policeman.

“Time was 10pm and the only alternative was to drive against the traffic. Suddenly, we heard a gun shot from behind and we scampered for safety; we thought there was a robbery attack but we were surprised to discover that a policeman was shooting sporadically.

Also, he manhandled  many people and threatened to shoot anybody who tried to stop him. Some of us tried to stop him from further irrational action but before we knew it, he grabbed me, tore my cloth and  hit me with his gun butt; and not satisfied with this, he finally shot me on the leg,’’ he said.

A month after the incident, the Police are yet to bring the culprit to book, while Akinwande is still counting the high cost of treating himself, just as he is yet to resume work.  ‘’I suffer serious pains everyday and can no longer cope with the hospital bills. I am more pained by the fact that the culprit has not been brought to book .

“Although the officer pulled off his uniform and ran away but sympathisers helped to report the incident at Ejigbo Police Station where he is serving and the DPO referred the case to his deputy who issued a Police report which was taken to Isolo General Hospital.

“My grouse is that nothing has been done to bring the culprit to book. The DPO told us the officer was in detention but we were not allowed to see him to ascertain the truth. On that day, Corporal Tayo was drunk and appeared at the police station with a bottle of rum,’’ he informed.

Upon investigation, Corporal Tayo was said to have expended 10 bullets on that day while a source at the division said he was always drunk on duty. ‘’Why should innocent citizens be killed like animals by careless policemen who should safeguard our lives? The Lagos State Police Command should flush all bad eggs out of the system,’’ he said.

When contacted, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jayeoba Idowu said people should not be scared of the police. ‘’The family should walk to the DPO and tell him what they want; they should not be scared of anything. The Police are for the people and I am sure the DPO must have arrested the culprit. I am very sure the culprit will be brought to book,’’said Jayeoba.

Culled from Vanguard