Some young men who were arrested and subsequently harassed by police officers in Owerri, Imo State have shared the ugly experience they endured at the hands of the officers.

This was contained in a statement issued by Okechukwu Nwanguma, the Executive Director of non-governmental human rights organisation, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Center (RULAAC).

File Photo

According to the statement, a young man simply identified as Victor had travelled from Lagos to Owerri, en route to Mbaise for a burial.

Unfortunately, Victor who is also a computer scientist alongside his relatives who had gone to pick him up was stopped by police officers at Enyiogugu Mbaise. The whole group was immediately labelled as fraudsters.

According to him, the officers ordered the young men into their vehicle, lying that they were taking them to the police station.

However, the young men were driven to a spot at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, and asked to pay a sum of N500, 000 to secure their release.

The young men said they paid N60, 000 to secure their release after which their mobile phones, which had been confiscated by the officers, were returned. 

Nwanguma said, “I knew they couldn't be SARS (disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad) because there is no SARS anymore. But of course, the memory of SARS sticks and such criminal activities evoke that ugly memory.

“They were arrested at Enyiogugu and they forced him into their vehicle. As he was still communicating with his brother, they snatched his phone from him.

“They were around Dan Anyiam stadium when he called him again to inform him that they have settled them. He said they paid them N60, 000. He identified their vehicle number as NPF4605D. He texted his brother: 'I was hit with gun and slapped harshly for saying or doing nothing.”

Nwanguma said he had since forwarded the information to the Commissioner of Police and the public relations officer of the Imo State Police Command.

One of the victims was quoted as saying, “I landed at the airport around noon. Ebuka offered to come to pick me up so I waited. 

“Shortly, he arrived with Junior and I entered the vehicle. Getting to Enyiogugu we were flagged down and Ebuka explained to them that he had passed earlier as he had just gone to pick up his uncle. 

“The embarrassment and molestation started immediately. They ordered all of us to alight from the vehicle. The vehicle was thoroughly searched and nothing was found. Then one of them insisted that he must search my bag. I told him it would not be nice searching my bag in the middle of the road. 

“So they took me to a corner inside one of their vans and did a thorough search on my bag. They only found my clothes and some drugs I bought for my mum. The person that was holding me asked me to go. So they took Ebuka to a corner and I stepped aside and was waiting.

”Shortly, one of them who appeared to have smoked very hard with his gin in his hand rushed at me and asked me to hop into the armoured tank. Before I could ask what my offence was, he slapped me harshly and hit my spine with the tip of his gun. 

“As if that was not enough, he cocked his gun and threatened to shoot. I went inside the vehicle, feeling humiliated, intimidated and in great danger.

“So they threatened to take us to the station and ended up diverting us to Dan Anyịam Stadium. They took our devices so as to make communication and intervention difficult for us. They demanded ₦500, 000 but we ended up paying N60, 000, then we were allowed to go after that.

“The one that took the money from Ebuka changed to mufti and followed him to a POS terminal where the transaction was made. 

“I am still in disbelief and still shocked by this embarrassment and humiliation despite committing no offence. Their armoured vehicle number is NPF 4605D. One of the officers is Ifeanyi. He gave us his phone number afterwards as 08036938483."

However, the mobile telephone line was not available as it had been switched off when SaharaReporters repeatedly called, up until the time of filing this report. 

Truecaller, a smartphone application with a caller-identification feature, identified the owner of the number as Cpl (Corporal) Victor. 

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