An 18-year-old undergraduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), has told SaharaReporters how he was beaten by operatives of te Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), who also extorted N5,000 from him in Ado-Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State.
The student was in the Ekiti State capital to visit his brother, an undergraduate of the Ekiti State University, on December 10, when he ran out of cash at about 6:30 p.m.
He asked his brother to describe where he could find an automated teller machine (ATM). His brother told him to take a commercial motorcycle to the First Bank branch on Adebayo Road, which he did.
On his way back from the bank, he told SaharaReporters, the motorcycle transporting him was stopped by SARS operatives, who had no service numbers to prove they were policemen. But because they were armed, he said, the motorcyclist stopped.
The student explained that the SARS operatives asked him what he does for a living and he replied that he is a student of Federal University of Technology, Akure. He said he immediately showed them the identity card issued by the university.
That was where his problem began. One of the policemen shouted at him that he would break identity card if the student brought it out again.
After that, they requested for his phone and immediately alleged that he was an internet fraudster.
“This was because I was well-dressed,” he explained.
Convinced that he had nothing to hide, he handed over his phone to them, after they had threatened to shoot him if he did not. Unfortunately for him, the battery of the phone had gone flat.
The policemen, he said, charged the phone with the charger in their vehicle until it came on. After the phone came on, they checked it and found nothing, he told SaharaReporters. One of them, he disclosed, would later put on his data. This ensured that Whatsapp messages were delivered.
“One of the messages was from my Chinese friend, who is also my business partner. When they saw the message, they said I am into cybercrime. I asked them to check if the profile picture was not mine,” he narrated.
The policemen ignored him and told him to follow them to the station. The student said he refused to follow them as they demanded. The refusal earned him savage beating.
“They gave me the beating of my life and eventually handcuffed me. I asked them to allow me call my brother, but they refused and maintained that I am a ‘Yahoo boy’ [internet fraudster],” he said.
He was subsequently taken away and driven to many places, where the policemen arrested other boys, one of whom he said was shot in the leg.
At about 9 p.m. at the station, the Operation Commandant told the student that he could order his men to shoot him and they would claim he was an armed robber attempting to escape. The commandant, he said, warned that the only way to avoid that fate was for him to give a bribe of N50, 000.
“I said I never committed any crime. The officers slapped me and said I was stupid for insisting on my innocence. They threatened to kill me, saying nobody was aware that I was at their station,” said the undergraduate.
Sensing their desperation, he said he started begging and told them that all he had in his account was N6,000.
“They asked me to open my bank app to see and they asked me to transfer it to them before they would release me. I transferred N5, 000 to their commandant, Mr. Fayomi Ola James with phone number 07038213078. God will punish SARS,” cursed the student.
The incident comes at a time when Nigerians are calling for the disbandment of SARS over its abuses of power and violations of laws and human rights.