From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
A widower, Mr Osazee Agbontaen, 33, on Monday, appeared before the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of SARS and related abuses to appeal for compensation over the death of his wife, Mrs Agbontaen.
Mr Agbontaen, a farmer and Electrical Engineer at Ekowe Community in Ovia North East Local Government Area of the State, said he was arrested unlawfully based on a petition written against him, and was detained for two weeks and subsequently taken to prison.
‘When I was at home, around 2 am, some policemen invaded my house and started banging on my door, and because I didn’t open for them on time, they pounced on me and started beating me up,’ he said in his testimony before the panel.
‘They asked me if I did not know that they were police officers. They beat me up, dragged me on the floor before throwing me into their van.
‘They took me to their station. Meanwhile, I was already having a pregnant woman as a wife at home. She was with an eight-month-old pregnancy.
‘So, they took me to their station where I spent almost two weeks in their custody before they remanded me to prison,’ he said.
The widower said he decided to approach the panel for compensation because, were he not illegally arrested and imprisoned, he would have been able to assist his late wife and perhaps, she would have not died.
‘It was when I was in the prison that my family members came to tell me that my wife has put to bed through Cesearal Section, (CS) and 10 days later, they also came to inform me in the prison that she has died and that she couldn’t make it.
‘I was confused when I heard the news of the death of my wife,’ the widower said.
He complained that he has lost everything he had and that while in prison, besides lossing his wife, his farm was overgrown with weeds, with the leftover parts of his farm later destroyed by fire.
He noted that after a thorough investigation, the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and his Investigating Police Officer (IPO) concluded that he had no case to answer.