A 30-year-old mechanic, Oladele Adebanjo, has accused the policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Lagos State Police Command of torturing and shooting him while he was in detention.
Adebanjo said he spent seven days in the SARS custody at the police command headquarters in Ikeja, over false allegations that he stole a commercial bus.
He said, “In August 2011, I took a Mazda bus model E2000 on a hire purchase agreement of N1.8m which was meant to be paid in N30,000 monthly instalments from a businessman, Olatunji Adeyemi.
“Though there were slight defaults in payment which arose from mechanical faults and a major accident sometimes in February 2012, I carried Adeyemi along and discharged my obligations accordingly and paid N910, 000 by September 14, 2012 before the bus was stolen.”
He said the bus was stolen at the residence of the driver he employed to drive it in Ikorodu area of the state and reported the matter at the Sagamu Road Police Division.
He said, “On October 22, after about six weeks of unsuccessful search for the bus, I and the driver reported back to the Oworo Police Division as I was instructed to do but surprisingly the IPO in charge of the matter said my case had been transferred to SARS.”
He said a policeman from SARS came for them at the Oworo station, got them handcuffed and drove them to the command headquarters in Ikeja where they were received by Taofeek Olokede at the SARS.
He said, “As soon as we got there, Olokede asked for Adebanjo and as soon as I identified myself, he gave me a dirty slap. He immediately moved me to a room where he stripped me leaving only my pants on.
“He tied my hands and hung me to a metal pipe fitted to a wall. He also put stone into a container and used a chain to hang it on my neck. He beat me intermittently in the process and this lasted for about an hour before he removed it.
“The driver and four other persons arrested for another alleged incident suffered similar fate and two of them gave up the ghost after intense torture in the process. When I refused to make an incriminating statement that I stole the bus, he brought out a pistol from his holster and shot me at the leg.”
Adebanjo said the bullet pierced through his leg, adding that Olokede thereafter ordered his men to move him to the cell.
Adebanjo, who recalled that he was tortured between 9 and 10pm, said he lost so much blood in the process.
He said on October 23, he was taken to Shomolu General Hospital where Olokede’s men lied to the doctors that he was an armed robber shot while trying to escape. He said he was given some first aid and moved back to the cell.
Adebanjo said while in detention, neither his parents nor his lawyer was allowed to see him.
He said, “A family friend who happened to be a senior police officer in Abuja who learnt about my ordeal sent words to his colleague in Lagos who intervened and I was subsequently released on October 29. The O/C SARS and the Commissioner of Police later got wind of the development.
“Apart from the gunshot injury which damaged my bones, my shoulders got broken. I was discharged at the hospital on Monday. In fact they have temporarily incapacitated me.”
His father, Allison, said he had spent over N400,000 on Adebanjo’s health, adding that the policemen who treated his son in such a brutal manner needed to be brought to book.
“What the SARS policemen did was jungle justice and all those involved should not get away with. If we had not sought help from a senior police officer who blew the lid open, maybe my son would have been killed by now,” he said.
When our correspondent contacted Adeyemi on the telephone on Tuesday, he admitted reporting the case at the the Oworo Police Division and SARS.
“I wonder why they shot him too because I only reported to them that he stole my bus and that he had initially been defaulting in terms of payment of the hire purchase agreement,” he said.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, in a text message to our correspondent said she had not been briefed on the incident. However, she said the command would not condone such extrajudicial acts from its officers and men.
“I am not aware of this matter but I will get in touch with the CP (Umar Manko) since you said it has been reported to him. But, I know that if our men had engaged in any extra-judicial act during their course of duty, the command will never condone it,” she said.