A trader, Mr Ndukwe Ekekwe, has narrated to the Lagos State Judicial Panel investigating cases of alleged police brutality how he broke his spinal cord and became paraplegic after operatives of the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) threw him from a 2-storey building.
Ekekwe, who was accompanied by his aged mother and not represented by a counsel, told the panel in pidgin English that at 2pm on February 16, 2018, he was arrested at the Alaba International Market without charge by SARS officers. Ekekwe said that fellow traders asked the policemen to show their identity cards before he could be handcuffed.
He said: “They immediately removed their SARS shirts, 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 were talking. I used my other hand to reach my phone to try to call my mother, but one of them, an inspector saw me, approached me and asked who gave me the guts to make a phone call. He took the phone, stepped on it and destroyed it. He stabbed me on my wrist and back. I was hit on the head with the butt of a gun and beaten. They collected the N58,000 that was for my shop.”
Ekekwe said he was taken to the SARS office at Ikeja, Lagos, and at midnight he was stripped, taken to a torture chamber where he was tortured. He said other officers, who were torturing other persons, also joined their colleagues in torturing him and the men even threatened to shoot him.
“I was left there till evening and I did not know my crime. Till now, I do not know my crime. They kept saying that intelligence report was on me. On the night of February 17, 2018, I was taken to my three shops where I sell phone accessories. The officers used hammer to break the shop and took my goods into their vehicles and sold some of them to people in the market. They took away my goods worth N15million. I began to shout to attract attention and the commander told them to take me to the top of the two-storey plaza and threw me down from the building. The officer, who threw me from that building, is Hamza Haruna. They took me back to their office in my injured state,” he said.
Ekekwe said that when his condition became worse, he was taken from the SARS office to the police hospital in Ikeja. He added that he was eventually referred to two other hospitals for the treatment of his injury.
The trader said that he used to be the breadwinner of his family. He added that the police did not pay his medical expenses and that he had to sell his house and other property to offset the expenses.
The chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi (retd), adjourned proceedings till November 13 for the testimony of Ekekwe’s mother.