By Romanus Okoye, Lagos
A police witness, Mr Adekunle Akeem Adetokunbo, told the Lagos State Judicial Panel investigating SARS abuses on Wednesday that he did not find any of the police officers accused of assaulting 27-year-old Felicia Nkemakolam Okpara guilty of the allegations made against them.
Adetokunbo said he did due diligence to find the culprits following video evidence of molestation shown to him by Okpara but none of the police officers charged with the offence was culpable. He said even the police officer identified by the petitioner as her molester was a station guard at the time and would not have been at the spot alleged by the petitioner.
During cross-examination, the police witness said that he did not go the extra mile to investigate those who actually molested the lady because it was outside his brief as an administrative police officer.
Okpara is one of the ladies seen in a video that went viral being dragged into Barracks Police Station during the #EndSARS protest. Earlier, she narrated her experience before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Related Abuses and other Matters.
Led by her lawyer, Ridwan Oke, Okpara testified that she was beaten and made to remove her bra in their presence. The petitioner, who said she is an orphan, told the panel that several policemen and policewomen beat her after she was caught trying to livestream policemen from Area C, Barracks Police Station, shooting into the midst of #EndSARS protesters on her Twitter.
‘After taking off my bra, one policeman went inside and brought a broken mop stick and used it on a man that was also arrested. After beating him, he went out and came back with the same anger and started hitting me with the nozzle of a gun. I was scared that he could pull the trigger. I think he realised what he was doing and then stopped and started using the gun butt to beat me,’ she narrated.
She said the police took her money, damaged her phone and threatened to detain her at Panti, Kirikiri and Abuja, adding that the police did not allow her and another lady that was arrested to make any call.
Okpara said when a police officer came to take her statement, she discovered that he was an Igbo man, so she spoke Igbo to him to see if he could be of help, but he asked her to calm down.
‘They took us upstairs and brought us back. That was where I saw Desmond Elliot. There were so many lawyers around,’ she said.
‘My head was bruised, my face was bruised. I saw some lawyers and Desmond Elliot. I saw someone from the government. Later, Desmond said where are the two ladies whose video was trending on social media? That was when I knew he came for me.’
The mother of one of the alleged victims said that Desmond Elliot, an actor turned Lagos lawmaker, gave her N6,000 to go home around 10 pm after she was released. I was smelling, in fact stinking. I was traumatised. There was no vehicle, no cab,’ she lamented.
Okpara said she was nearly raped when she approached a man to help her get transport to Ikorodu. Seeing her condition, the man invited her to come and sleep inside the bus with him. She said she later slept in a hotel in the area that night and went for medication when she got to Ikorodu the next day.
Justice Doris Okuwobi admitted in evidence the photographs of her bruised body and face, medical report and damaged phone.