Residents of Gberigbe and Imota, two districts in the Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos, have cried out over the indiscriminate abuse, arrests and high-level extortion they suffer regularly in the hands of police officers attached to the Imota Police Division.
Speaking to FIJ, one resident, who asked not to be named, narrated the high level of physical assault and ill-treatment he suffered in the hands of the officers.
“On Saturday, August 6, I decided to go my barber’s shop to get a haircut in preparation for the following day’s service. As soon as I was done and entered my vehicle to return home, I suddenly heard a loud bang,” he said.
“When I looked to my side, I saw that two motorcycle operators had collided with each other. The people around were also screaming at me not to move my car forward. When I opened the car door and got down from the car, I realised the collision had sent one of the injured persons flying to the front of my car.
“If I had moved an inch further without quickly applying the brake, I would have run the car over him.”
The resident said that when he got out of the car in panic, he realised the accident happened because of a police chase.
“When I came down, I saw that the police officers were still hell-bent on carrying the injured people, despite their injuries, into their vans alongside their motorcycles, to their station.
“The moment I was able to gather myself from the initial shock of almost running a human being over with my car, I challenged the officers. I told them their action was improper and that it could have resulted in the death of a human being.”
“YOU WANT TO TEACH US OUR JOB?”
The resident said after he said this, the police officers assaulted him, slapping and punching him several times. He said he was then handcuffed and pushed into their van.
“While slapping me, they were asking me the right I had to be teaching them their job. They said I was obstructing justice,” he said.
The resident also said while he was being whisked to the station alongside the injured persons they arrested, the police officers also arrested more people indiscriminately on the road.
“When we got to the station, they locked us in a cell and pointed to me, saying I was the one harbouring criminals and cultists in my area. After spending several hours in their cell, I was eventually released because of the several phone calls my wife made. She actually works for someone very influential in Ikorodu town,” he said.
“I was eventually released around 2 am on Sunday morning.”
He said one officer who assaulted him was referred to repeatedly as ‘Jude’ by his colleagues.
THEY ARRESTED MY APPRENTICE
Another resident who witnessed the incident said all the people the officers arrested on the night of the incident were innocent.
“One of the boys that the police officers arrested that night is one of my apprentices. He had just closed from work and was on his way home when the incident happened,” the resident said.
“As he started his motorbike and headed into the streets, another motorcyclist ran into him. It happened in a flash. They both fell to the ground with a great impact and sustained injuries.
“We later saw that the motorcyclist that ran into my apprentice was being chased by the policemen. He was just a commercial motorcyclist, but the officers wanted to extort money from him. While trying to run from them, the accident happened.
“Rather than take care of the injured, they pushed them into the vans alongside their motorcycles. They also arrested the man who had just come out of the barber’s shop, saying they were all criminals.”
The resident said his apprentice was released the following day after several pleas and explanations that he was not a criminal.
HUNDEYIN HOLDS A DIFFERENT VIEW
However, when FIJ contacted Benjamin Hundeyin, the Lagos State police spokesperson, for comments on the issue, he said the complainants were probably cultists.
“The people of Ikorodu appreciate how we have been tackling the menace of cultism in their domain. Anyone complaining is probably a cultist or cultism sympathiser.
“Genuine cases of unprofessional conduct on the part of our officers should be reported appropriately and such would be handled with despatch.”
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