A human rights group, Behind Bars Rights Foundation, known for advocating for justice for victims of police brutality, extortion, bribery, unlawful arrest and detention and all form of human rights abuses as well as the promotion of human rights advancement, has accused the Delta State Police Command of assault, death threats and unlawful detention of its members.
Last week, the state Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Mustafa, had alleged that the founder and Director General of Behind Bars Rights Foundation, Harrison Gwamnishu, and his group invaded the C Division Police Station, Asaba, to free suspected cultists, and in the process beat up the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), CSP Eyoh Anietie, the DCO and other officers as well as damaged valuables and properties in the DPO's office.
Gwamnishu, however, debunked the allegations by the state Police Commissioner, stating that the story was distorted to cover up their tracks on their assault and unlawful detention.
He said: "How can a human rights group without weapons, no guns, nothing nothing invade a Police station with able-bodied fully armed policemen and begin to insult, slap and beat up a DPO of a station to the point of tearing his uniform and destroy his office and you still remain alive to tell the story? The Commissioner of Police lied, in their bid to cover up what they have done to us. He cooked up a story and used the press to mislead the general public."
According to the human rights group leader, they had received a complaint regarding the detention of a man at the C Division Police station, Asaba and the officer in charge of the case, one DSP Udofia Kufre, allegedly demanded for N1 million before he could be released.
His words: "A lady in the company of two men complained about her brother being detained at C Division, Asaba after he was picked up during a raid and the officer in charge of the case DSP Udofia Kufre demanded for N1 million before her brother would be released. She said she had only N7,000. Our standard procedure has been to verify complaints before taking any step.
"Behind Bars Human Rights Foundation is a non-governmental organisation, with the aim of promoting human rights advancement in Nigeria, with the core value of ensuring that the dignity and value of citizens are respected. We work to secure dignity and justice for all. We also provide safety, support, advocacy for victims of human rights abuse and work to change the system and attributes that allow the abuse to continue.
"We then proceeded to the Police station to make further inquiries. We discovered it was the same CSP Eyoh Anietie whom we petitioned for the torture and murder of 17-year-old Ifunanya Amadike, that was the one heading the station. When we arrived the station, we introduced ourselves to them and the DCO, DSP Udofia Kufre led us into the DPO’s office and locked us inside.
"The DPO CSP Eyoh told me that after writing a petition against him that led to his transfer to Asaba, I still had the effrontery to walk into his division to facilitate the release of a suspect. Kufre rushed at me, held me and slapped me. The DPO stood up and they started beating me. My two colleagues with me couldn’t watch them brutalise me the more, and tried to separate us and they left me and started beating them. CSP Eyoh raised the alarm and other officers joined and they sprayed us with tear-gas, stripped us naked and detained us.
"We were mercilessly assaulted and beaten by the DPO and his men. The DPO vowed to kill me by December, because according to him, I was instrumental to his transfer from Warri to Asaba. We are non-violent; we are not cultists as being branded by the Police Commissioner and his men. We are not armed robbers. We are concerned Nigerians who demanded justice for 17-year-old Ifunanya. If demanding for justice is a crime in Nigeria, then we are guilty.
"After detaining three of us, we were framed and charged to court for assault occasioning harm. Bail was later granted which we perfected. If you have noticed, they are using the media to fight us but in all, justice is sure. The Police authorities said that, I Harrison is on a vengeance mission over my four years wrongful and unlawful detention in four prisons in Nigeria by FSARS. They lied. Severally, I have advocated for vulnerable Nigerians, helping them with free legal representation, providing them with access to justice.
"On my wrongful detention, the court will decide on that soon. For over four years, we have facilitated arrest of Federal SARS officers who extorted from Nigerians, Police officers who took bribe using various account numbers and provided support to sexually assaulted persons and victims of human trafficking. I just received information that the Police linked me to a cultist arrested and killed few days ago."
The group called restated its position on calling for full and unbiased investigation into the murder Ifunanya Amadike, who was tortured to death. They also called on concerned Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Inspector General of Police, National Human Rights Commission, Delta State Governor and Commissioner for Justice to order an investigation into the activities of DPO CSP Eyoh Anietie.
"We hereby call on concerned Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Inspector General of Police, Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Delta State Governor and Commissioner of Justice in Delta State to order an investigation into the activities of CSP Eyoh Anietie, who has vowed to kill me before the end of December. He accused me of depriving him of benefitting from his hard work after building a Police station in Warri, Delta State. We pledge to remain loyal and be law-abiding in carrying out our duties as concerned citizens," Gwamnishu declared.
Investigation by SaharaReporters revealed that before now, the human rights activist and his group have been a target of the Police, especially the C Division DPO, following his crusade against human rights abuses by Nigerian policemen.