Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
If Terfa Gundu, an operator of a car wash outfit in Benue State, knew what lay ahead of him that fateful night, he would have completely altered his programme or even shelved the idea of going out for whatever reason.
But Terfa left his home that night to buy some items from a provision store within the neighbourhood. Out of his compound on the street, just as he was close to the store, he was arrested by the operatives of Nigeria Mobile Force 13, Makurdi. What started as a routine exercise, dragged on and at the end, he was lucky to come out alive. But he was allegedly tortured, almost to the point of death.
His misfortune was rather made complex by the fact that the officers were all out that night, to apprehend the thief, or anybody that looked like the thief, who broke into their boss’ house and made away with his valuables.
Unfortunately, Terfa happened to be the first person to cross their path as they combed the area for the suspect. They stopped him as he walked passed them, halting him with a frightening voice that jerked his thoughts to their attention. They asked few questions and immediately arrested him.
He is currently receiving treatment due to the injuries he sustained on account of the torture: “At around 8am yesterday, I was going to buy some items at a store in the neighbourhood when I was rounded up by the operatives of Mobile Police Force. There were two vehicles – a Peugeot 406 saloon and a Hilux van. Some Mobile Police officers were running towards me but I didn’t know they were coming for me.
“They seized me, handcuffed me and took me to their office (MOPOL 13 Squadron) that I should produce items I had stolen from their oga’s house. When I denied knowledge, they asked me to squat with my hands on my kneels which I did. They then brought an iron rod, put it across my kneels and hands, jacked me up on the hanger and mercilessly beat me. Not satisfied, they brought petrol, poured on me and ignited fire.
“When it became unbearable, I asked them to bring me down and I’ll take them to one of my friends that we committed the act together. It was then that I led them to my mother’s office, from where they brought me to SARS’ office at the Police Headquarters in Makurdi.
“This was after they went to our house and packed things like Plasma TV with decoder, my video camera, small generator, my tripod and sound system.
“I am not a thief. I have a car wash and a video recording outfit. In fact, I was putting finishing touches to the video I recorded during the thanksgiving service in honour of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, when I went out to get some items that I needed and in the process, I was arrested.”
His family, Gundu Ateka of Konshisha Local Government Area Benue State, is demanding for justice for their son. His uncle, Peter Iordemolun Yaji, lamented the degree of torture exerted on their son, especially as no incriminating item was found on him:
“When the situation became bad and they foresaw danger, they took him to their clinic (Police Clinic) from where he was referred to this hospital. They also released those things that they (police) removed from the house. And all of this, they did without warrant.
“Terfa was brought to the hospital in an unconscious state. Before, we could not quite understand what happened to him. It is now that he opened his mouth and made us understand that they poured fuel on him and set him on fire.”
A visit to the hospital showed the victim lying face down with burns on his buttocks, waist and wounds around his ankle, apparently from the iron rod that was used on him. The Police who took him to the hospital appeared to have abandoned him to his fate as they deposited no kobo for his treatment.
“I want justice for my son,” the head of the family cried out: “He was living in Lagos when we brought him back home. He has lost his biological parents. He is not an idle man. He covered Justice Tsoho’s thanksgiving and was due to produce it for the man, when they took his camera away.”
However, when contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Sewuese Anene, said she was yet to be briefed on the case even as she urged the family to write a formal letter of complaint to the police.