The pains and frustrations Mr. Iwuagwu Remigus has had to go through, in his bid to get justice for his teenage daughter, who was allegedly abducted, raped and forced to procure unlawful abortion which resulted to complications, including excessive bleeding which nearly took her, are heart rendering.
Recounting how the police allegedly connived with the man accused of abducting, raping, impregnating and illegally procuring abortion for his teenage daughter, Remigus said, “After I reported to the FESTAC Divisional Police, Lagos that one Mr. Sochi Oba allegedly abducted and raped my daughter, the police sent an invitation to the suspect at his residence in Amuwo Odofin, but he refused to honour the invitation.
“Attempts to arrest him have also been futile as Sochi Oba absconded from his apartment and only sneaks in occasionally at odd hours to his residence.”
According to Iwuagwu, a lawyer has been appearing on behalf of Sochi Oba at the police station and has been promising to produce his client but has, till date, failed to produce him.
“Following apparent lack of diligence on the part of the Investigation Police Officer(IPO) at FESTAC Police Station and Gender Unit to arrest the suspect, I paid someone to keep a close watch at his residence and discovered that he had started removing his household properties in a suspected bid to pack out of the house and evade arrest”, the complainant said. He also claimed to have alerted FESTAC Police Station, hoping they could lay ambush and arrest him.
But when, on Saturday, March 23, 2019, I received information that someone came with a truck to evacuate Sochi Oba’s remaining properties, I called an officer at FESTAC Police Station, identified as Inspector Kate, who claimed she was not in the office and could not attend to my request. Later I called the police at Ago Police Station and two officers promptly responded and arrested the man and two others along with the truck containing the properties to FESTAC Police Station. “To my surprise, Inspector Kate, who claimed she was not in the office, was actually in the office.
It is obvious that the OC Gender and the DPO FESTAC were aware of this matter but they weren’t showing interest or ready to use this opportunity to track the suspect. “Meanwhile, Sochi Oba has been calling me with different numbers, threatening and pressuring me to withdraw the matter from the police otherwise I will go down with my daughter. “He is also boasting that I cannot get him as he is ‘Odogwu’, Igbo word close to ‘invincible’. Anytime I try to call him back on the numbers, they’re no longer reachable. “I have been receiving threats from unknown people calling me with hidden numbers and threatening that if l do not drop the case against Sochi, either me or my daughter will be down”.
Across the nooks and crannies of the country, the issue of police brutality, shoddy investigations, human rights violations and the activities of rogue law enforcement agents has continued unabated. Whereas different types of human rights violations and abuses are peculiar to some states or geopolitical zones, others are widespread and occur in virtually every state of the federation. For instance, whereas raid of public places and indiscriminate arrest, detention and extortion of innocent people by rogue police officers are peculiar to every state, raid of streets and other public places, indiscriminate arrest, unlawful detention for the purpose of extortion by rogue police officers/sometimes frame-up and charge leading to false imprisonment are rampant in Lagos.
Lack of diligent investigation of complaints of gender-based violations, extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses is also an issue of concern. Most of the time, law enforcement officers act like they are above the law, threatening individuals who refuse to do their bidding or conniving with a party to a dispute to torment the other. Gender-based violations like in the case of the teenage daughter of Remigus, the police are yet to make headways in the investigation of a 15-year-old girl, who was allegedly gang-raped on January 24, 2019 by suspected residents, including Doku Ojo, Olawale Ojo and two others, somewhere in Gberige, Ikorodu, Lagos.
According to the father of the victim, after he reported the case at Ijede Divisional Police Headquarters, some police officers went to arrest the suspects but members of their families put up fierce resistance, assaulted a policeman and injured his son who went with them while the suspects fled.
He went on, “We wrote a petition to then-Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgar, who ordered that the case be transferred to the Gender Unit of the state police headquarters for proper and professional investigation and prosecution. Till date, the suspects who gang-raped my daughter and videoed the act are walking freely”. Tales of shoddy investigation by police officers abound.
The investigation into the murder of Adekunle Tade, a Lagos Uber driver, whose corpse was found at the Lagos lagoon, five days after he went missing, remains inconclusive till date. According to Olutola Tade, the elder brother of the deceased, “38-year-old Tade was attacked by armed men, who forcefully snatched his car. Tade went to his boss, the vehicle owner, Mrs. Andry Nwokedi, to report the incident and he didn’t return until five days later when his dead body was found at the lagoon in Lekki, Lagos State”.
Accusing the police of handling the investigation poorly, Olutola said police investigated but the level of investigation needs to be thorough.
Within two days after the incident, the police concluded that my brother jumped into the lagoon. They asked us to get the footage of the crime scene; I called all the people I knew. The CCTV at the crime scene, Lekki Link Bridge, which was believed to be functional on the day of the incident, suddenly stopped working. How convenient! We paid for autopsy, paid for mobilisation for every move the police officers investigating the cases needed to do. It is the police responsibility to conduct investigation into cases, especially murder cases. Our family deserves closure which is why we need them to conduct thorough investigation”.
Narrating how the police beat him up recently, another victim, Peter Onyegbule, said, on February 21, 2019, he was invited to Igando Police Station, Lagos State over a complaint by his landlord alleging that he was not paying electricity bill. “The fact that I went there with my lawyer didn’t stop the officers from beating me up by policemen at the station. In fact, one ASP Lola at the station walked out my lawyer, saying she wasn’t the one invited. It took the intervention of the Executive Director of NOPRIN, Okechukwu Nwagunma, before I was later released”, he narrated.
Residents who have encountered Lagos State Police Command Anti-Cultism Unit say they left with horrible stories. While the dust raised by the arrest of one Yinka Badmus in December 2018 by this unit over his hair style (dreadlocks) was yet to fully settle.
One Ikenna Emmanuel was allegedly arrested at Fagba area of Lagos by some officers from the unit on February 27, 2019 while coming back from Computer Village. Emmanuel’s story: “I was in the company of my teenage cousin and we were returning from Computer Village where we had gone to repair a phone. Some policemen arrested me and chased my cousin away at Fagba Bus Stop. They took me to the Anti-Cultism Station at Charly Boy Bus Stop, Gbagada where the officers there demanded for N60, 000 as bail money. “Later they collected N5, 000 and hurriedly released me when some journalist friends called the state Police PRO and the Commander of the Anti-Cultism Unit.”
For freelance journalist, Odera Okapu, who claimed to have been attacked and beaten by policemen attached to Sangotedo Ajah, it was really an ugly experience.
Okapu narrated, “My cousin and I had stayed back in the office to charge our phones because there was no power supply, so we were going home late. We wanted to board a commercial bus at the bus stop when a white bus stopped. But as we wanted to board the bus, we noticed that all the occupants were males, so we stepped back. “Immediately, the men jumped out and ordered us to enter the bus but we resisted. Our resistance earned us hot slaps and beatings.
Initially we thought they were kidnappers as they were wearing plain clothes. “They handcuffed us and forced us into the bus shouting ‘make we see how you go escape’.
They handcuffed my wrist to that of my cousin. “While in the bus, I called my mummy and told her what was happening. The policeman sitting beside me slapped me. My mother asked to speak to any of the officers. One of them collected the phone and he said ‘na you be the madam wey send them hustle’? “While they were taking us to the station, I remembered l have a police officer’s number who I called and explained to him what had happened. He spoke with one of the officers and later they unlocked the handcuff and released us in the middle of the night”.