For the last four years, Olajide Fowotade has been chasing justice in the wake of being brutalized by a police officer.
The officer, who has since been identified as Sergeant Ayo Arogundade, assaulted Olajide, a 60-year-old building contractor, on March 11, 2017 at the Ketu-Ikosi area of Lagos.
The case has since seen media spotlight and been the subject of a hearing at the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for SARS victims.
According to a revelation at the Judicial Panel, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) denied Sergeant Arogundade: they claimed he no longer worked with the Force, with his whereabouts also unknown. This was disclosed by Joseph Evoserenen, who represented the NPF in the hearing.
"The police representative tendered a letter to the panel written to the Police Headquarters in Ikeja, which reported that the officer no longer works with the service," Olajide explains.
The aggrieved senior citizen, who thought the panel would be his means to finally get justice, is coming to terms with a belief that this is a police tactic to evade justice.
On that fateful day four years ago, he was driving on Ketu-Ikosi road, waiting behind the tricycles that usually cause traffic while picking passengers. ¨Suddenly,¨ he remembers, ¨my car was hit from behind.¨
It was a motorcycle that had two people on it.
Olajide shouted at the riders, asking why they had hit his car; asking if they had not seen the traffic in front. This seemed to offend the riders, who asked if he did not know who they were.
“I said, ´who are you?!´¨ Olajide recounts. ¨Can’t you see the front?"
What unfolded was sudden. One of the riders, who turned out to be Sergeant Arogundade, approached Olajide´s car, pulled him out the window, and sounded a slap on his face - the beginning of a brutal beating
"He started beating me, and when it got too much, I tried to get out of the car,¨ Olajide recounts. ¨Suddenly, he headbutted me - and that is how two of my teeth came out.¨
Olajide passed out as the beating persisted, and was rushed to the hospital. Apart from the loss of teeth, he also suffered eye and leg injuries.
His pursuit of justice since then has been frustrated by his inability to physically identify the officer who had assaulted him.
"All I knew then was that the officer who headbutted me was Sergeant Ayo; I didn't know the second officer's name,¨he says. ¨They were both attached to the Ketu Police station.¨
"I have been to the human rights office, office of the public defender, and they gave me a lawyer, but nothing has happened thus far. I know that man has done jazz, so that he will get away with this."
After his story gained media attention, it reached the high echelons of the NPF. A DPO, whom Olajide identifies as Mr. Akpan, took his statement.
“The then PPRO (Police Public Relations Officer), Dolapo Badmus, invited me to Zone 2 and referred the case to the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) at Zone 2, then Kayode Aderanti,¨ Olajide narrates. ¨They set up a panel and asked me to give them four weeks, but I did not hear from them for months.”
After waiting for months, he went back to Zone 2, but the PPRO at the time told him the AIG in charge of his case had been transferred. Several efforts to get the report or any form of justice hit dead ends.
When he made his first appearance at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, Olajide asked for three million naira as compensation for the damage he suffered after the assault.
He said he had spent not less than one million naira to treat the injuries he suffered from the assault, including purchasing 10 artificial teeth, each for 25,000 naira, aside the 100, 000 naira he spent on removing the teeth.
He also presented receipts, scans, and all other relevant documents - including publications of The Guardian and The Nation newspapers on March 14, 2017 as evidence of his ordeal. These pieces of evidence were admitted as exhibits to the panel.