A Lagos-based human rights activist and member of a volunteer security group, Mr. Agbodemu Ishola Musbau, is currently lying at the Emergency Department of the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta, Lagos, following a vicious attack by 11 policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Lagos.
Mr. Musbau, who once survived a gun attack by SARS officers, was assaulted on March 9 while attempting to secure the freedom of some men arrested in his Ebute Metta neighborhood.
According to him, on March 8, he was invited to the SARS office by the Officer-in-Charge (OC), Umar Paiko, on the incidents that happened on Jones Street, Ebute Metta, for which some boys were arrested and held in police custody. The OC then asked him to return the next day, with a promise that the boys in custody would be released.
Mr. Musbau did as agreed. On arrival at the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters, Musbau waited outside for the OC, who had previously informed him that he had a meeting at Zone 2 Police Command headquarters.
"While waiting for him, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Cole Famous, called and I informed him I was within the Police Command after which he demanded we see," said Mr. Musbau.
The duo met in the office of the Commissioner of Police to discuss how to resolve the issue of the boys in custody, which Mr. Musbau explained that the OC had already promised to do.
After the meeting, Mr. Musbau ran into the family members of those that were detained and assured them that their wards would be released once the OC returned.
Then, trouble began. "While standing, one Assistant Commissioner of Police, Biola, who led SARS officers to Jones Street on March 3, asked if I was Musbau and I said yes. Immediately, they started beating and dragging me on the floor. They almost completely stripped me naked in the attack that lasted over 45 minutes and was being videotaped (with cell phones) by 11 officers," he recalled.
On arrival of the OC, said the human rights activist, he was invited to see OC Paiko accompanied by the 11 officers that assaulted him. Curiously the OC said nothing about his disheveled appearance, including being almost naked.
"The only thing he said was that the boys should be released. Six men were brought, and I was told to sign that six men were released to me at no cost. Though I couldn't see clearly because of the way I was beaten, I could recognize that two among then were not from my community," said Mr. Musbau.
He explained that though six men were arrested on the day of the incident on 3 March, one Taoreed Popoola was released after paying N100,000 in bribes the next day, and on March 5, Segun Akinloye was released after bribing police officers N50,000.
"I was surprised to be told to sign for six people when they should be four. When I declined to sign, I was beaten again. So, under duress, I signed for six people, including two total strangers. I think they wanted to deny that they ever collected money for the release of the two of them," said Mr. Musbau.
He explained that without his intervention, those released would have been charged to court with fabricated confessional statements obtained through torture.
Mr. Musbau said blood is still dripping from his ear. His eyes are still blood-shot from beating and has been told that he would have to seek treatment for his ear and check how much damage he has suffered in the left side of his brain outside the Federal Medical Centre.