As the hearing at the Lagos State Judicial Panel Investigating cases of alleged police brutality continues, a trader identified as Ndukwe Ekwekwe, today November 3, narrated the shocking story of he was made a paraplegic by “officers of the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).”
Ekekwe who came in on a wheelchair told the nine-man panel that he was thrown from a two-story building at the Alaba International Market by officers of the squad. Accompanied by his aged mother to the sitting, Ekekwe, who was not represented by a counsel, narrated to the panel in pidgin English the events that led to his paralysis.
According to him, SARS officers arrested him at the Alaba International Market on February 16, 2018 without any charge. Ndukwe said that fellow traders asked the policemen to show their identity cards before Ekekwe could be handcuffed.
“They immediately removed their SARS shirts and began to shoot and everyone ran away. I asked them what my crime was and they said the arrest was an order from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
I was handcuffed in one hand because they noticed I wasn’t a troublemaker. On our way, they stopped at Igando and came down from the car and were talking.
I used my other hand to reach my phone to try to call my mother, but the Inspector saw me, approached me and asked who gave me the guts to make a phone call and he took the phone, stepped on it and destroyed it.
He stabbed me on my wrist and back and I was hit on the head with the butt of a gun and beaten. They collected the N58,000 that was for my shop,” he said.
Ekekwe said he was taken to the SARS office at Ikeja, Lagos, and at midnight he was stripped naked, taken to a torture chamber where he was beaten and tortured. He told the panel that other SARS officers, who were torturing other individuals, also joined their colleagues in torturing him and the men even threatened to shoot him.
“I was left there till evening and I didn’t know my crime and till now I don’t know my crime. They kept saying that the intelligence report is on me.
At the night of that day (Feb. 17, 2018), I was taken to my three shops where I sell phone accessories.
They took away my goods worth N15million. I began shouting to attract attention and the commander told them to take me to the top of the two-storey plaza and I was thrown down from the building.
The SARS officer that threw me from that building is Hamza Haruna. They took me back to their office in my injured state” he said.
He told the panel that when his condition became critical, the officers whisked him to the Police Hospital in Ikeja where he was eventually referred to two other hospitals for treatment of his injury.
The trader said that he used to be the breadwinner of his family, but suffered a spinal injury from being thrown off the storey building, which led to his paralysis. He told the panel that the police did not pay for his medical expenses and that he had to sell his house and landed property to offset the expenses.
The chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd) adjourned proceedings to Nov. 13 for the testimony of Ekekwe’s mother.