Ridwan Oke, a Lagos-based lawyer who played an important role in the release of several detainees during the October 2020 #EndSARS protests, has narrated to FIJ his ordeal in the hands of policemen he questioned for breaching traffic regulations on Tuesday.
He said the officers inflicted physical injuries on his body, dislocated one of his fingers and caused him internal pains.
Oke was arrested by officers attached to the Area C Command of the Lagos State Police after he questioned them for driving against traffic on a one-way lane, causing a gridlock in the area.
FIJ earlier reported his arrest after a source revealed he was slapped and beaten before being taken to the station where he was later released.
Recounting the experience, Oke said, “I was at the gate of my house while seeing someone off when I noticed traffic gridlock. From Ikorodu road to Oyingbo, there’s a road that leads to my street, and from there to 3rd Mainland Bridge is one-way.
“Police officers arrested okada riders and put them in their van, and they were coming directly from the other end of the road. They blocked the road with their van, meaning nobody could move.
“There was an alternative route that leads out of that street, but they did not use it, instead they were asking people to move, and causing the gridlock.
“People were chastising them for breaking the law, and I joined in. The driver of the van said ‘you people should tell them to stop riding motorcycles’, and I replied that while they were condemning riders for breaking the law, they were also breaking the law.
“I asked how they expected people to listen to them. Then they attacked me and hurled insults at me.”
He said his retort did not go down well with the officers as three of them jumped out of the vehicle to beat him.
“Three police officers jumped out of the van and started beating me. They used baton on my head. I have injuries on my head, forehead and a side of my head. One of my fingers is dislocated; I can’t use it very well currently. My knees and back, as well as the side of my chest, were also injured,” Oke said.
“I can feel pain all over. The bruises are not showing but I can feel the pain internally. They slapped me and were beating me up. I did not fight back. I only attempted to protect my vital organs.
“My brother tried to appeal on my behalf but they slapped him before dragging me to their van to continue the beating and take me to their station.”
He said the officers stopped to buy Gin, an alcoholic drink, and began drinking while on their way to the station.
He was unable to identify or get their names from their uniforms, as they all wore plain casual clothes, but, he said, the officer who led the operation was Sodiq Taiwo.
Oke also said it took the intervention of his wife and Benjamin Hundeyin, Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, to secure his release.
“On our way, they bought dry gin and started drinking it. Sodiq Taiwo was the officer who led the operation,” he added.
“My wife was in court at the time, but when she heard of the ordeal, she came with Bode, my friend, to the Area C Command, where I was taken to.
“I asked her to call Mr Macaroni, Rinu, Moe and Benjamin Hundeyin, the Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command. Hundeyin intervened and ordered my immediate release.
“The officers there asked me to write a statement and sign. After I did that, Taiwo tried to engage me in a conversation and I refused, as I did not want to be beaten up again as they beat me in the van.
“He tried to defend his actions by saying they had an emergency operation, but that was a lie. They had finished the operation and were heading to the station, so there was no emergency. I can confirm this as I was with them in the van and they made no stops at any locations except to buy that nonsense that they drink.
“There was no emergency whatsoever. Even if there was an emergency, police would not follow a road that was blocked, or block a road when there was an alternative route.
“I left there to use a public hospital in order to have the records and file a proper complaint. I do not want to go to court because the court will award damages that will be deducted from taxpayers’ money.”
POLICE CAN BREAK SOME LAWS SOMETIMES — MUYIWA ADEJOBI
Reacting to Oke’s ordeal, Muyiwa Adejobi, Nigeria Police Force’s Public Relations Officer, said the police are empowered to break some laws in the event of an emergency, but that Hundeyin would investigate the matter.
His tweets read, “Well, this story is very interesting and ‘sweet’. But let me clarify one thing here. When policemen are on patrol or operation that warrants urgency, they can break some rules, particularly traffic rules.
“If they were to be in branded police patrol vans, I am sure Ridwan Oke wouldn’t challenge them, but because they were in danfo. Is danfo meant for police operations? Something is wrong somewhere.
“We need to demarcate the hatred we have for policemen and certain realities we must live with. The men didn’t do anything wrong for taking one way while enforcing the law.
“It’s a universal practice. But I am sure this matter was not as simple as my brother painted it here. Respect is reciprocal. However, PPRO Lagos can look into it objectively and take decisions. It’s well.”
FIJ tried reaching Hundeyin for comments, but as of press time, he had not replied to messages sent to him.
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