A victim of police brutality, Lucky Joseph, has narrated how he was allegedly harassed by some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Joseph explained that the men, who didn’t find anything incriminating on him, stripped him naked and pulled him by the private parts in public.
He noted that he was left after some residents contributed N30,000 to bribe the policemen.
A video had gone viral on the social media last Thursday showing how the 38-year-old was battered by the security operatives.
Some residents of Odums Street, Choba Extension, in the Obio Akpor Local Government Area, where the incident happened, explained that to avert any extra-judicial killing, they gave the operatives N30,000.
The highest donor was said to be the owner of a mechanic workshop where Joseph worked.
The victim told PUNCH Metro on Friday that the policemen inflicted injuries on him without telling him his offence.
He identified one of the operatives as ThankGod.
He said, “I was passing when two SARS men grabbed me from the back. They told me to raise my hands so that they could search me.
“I told them that before they searched me, they should allow me to search myself so that nothing incriminating would be planted on me. They disagreed and began to search me. They brought out only my handkerchief. As one of them wanted to put it back into my pocket, I told him to hold on because I did not want him to add anything to it.
“As I did that, a wrap of hemp fell. When that happened, one of them quickly picked it. They ordered me to enter the car they brought, but I refused.
“A crowd gathered and asked where they were taking me to. Four of them began to drag me and I asked them what my offence was. As they were dragging me, I struggled with them. They stripped me naked and began to pull my manhood, but I did not relent. I refused to follow them because I believe I did nothing wrong.
“Two of them later brought out machetes and rifles. I told them that if they wanted to shoot me, they should go ahead because I was sure I did not commit any offence.
“As we were struggling, some wraps of Indian hemp fallen off their pockets. They used the machetes to cut my body and tried to handcuff me; but I told them they could not handcuff me.”
Our correspondent learnt that when they eventually threw the victim inside the boot of their car, residents begged for his freedom and were asked to raise N30,000.
Joseph said it was after the N30,000 was given to the operatives that he was released, adding that his body was filled with injuries.
“They (SARS operatives) know me on this street and all of us interact. Four of them still came here this morning (Friday); they always come here to play pool. They only came to intimidate me. What was my offence?” he added.
A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told PUNCH Metro that she contributed N2,000 to make up the N30,000 demanded by the SARS personnel.
Also, the owner of the mechanic workshop where Joseph worked explained that while a next-door neighbour contributed N5,000, he coughed out N23,000.
The workshop owner, popularly known as Papa, said, “The SARS personnel collected N30,000. Their office is not around here, but they always patrol here. I blame him (Jopseph) because he smokes hemp too.”
An eyewitness, who simply identified himself as Patrick, said he saw when hemp dropped off from the opratives’ pockets.
“Their leader wore a big earring. When I came out, I asked myself; is this man also a SARS officer?” he added.
Another eyewitness, Bassey, said the policemen initially demanded N50,000, but after some bargain, they agreed to take the N30,000.
“We begged them to take N15,000, but they refused and said their last price was N30,000,” he said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, said though he was not aware of the incident, Joseph’s claim that the SARS operatives had hemp was an afterthought.
Omoni said, “If that report is anything to go by, it is unfounded and not verifiable. I don’t see what a SARS operative would be doing with hemp when he is on duty, if not for an exhibit.”