JOSEPH Bassey Arikpo, a lawyer and petitioner at the investigative panel on SARS in Abuja, has narrated how a divisional police officer (DPO) and other officers beat him up for attempting to bail his client, Friday Ogbor.
During the resumed sitting of the panel in Abuja on Tuesday, Arikpo said Solomon Danja, DPO of Ikom police station under the Cross River State Command, and his officer, severely assaulted him.
He alleged that before the DPO descended on him with punches, he had reminded him of the detainee’s right to personal liberty and dignity of human person, following which the DPO got infuriated and called him a stupid man.
Arikpo explained to the panel that while he was about to leave the DPO’s office, the police officer allegedly rushed towards him and threw punches at him while also reiterating that he (Arikpo) was stupid.
He added that while he was trying to run away, the DPO ordered that the gate of the police station be locked, while using teargas on him and resuming the punches.
The complainant who said he was a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikom Branch, stated that while he managed to dodge one of the punches from the DPO, he fell down on the floor and that resulted in more police officers coming to beat him mercilessly.
Arikpo stated that after his statement was obtained in recording despite his objection to it, the DPO allegedly came in again with officers wielding batons and horse whips, asking that he be handcuffed to the back, while commencing another round of beating, whipping and name-calling.
After some days of detention in the police station, he informed the panel that he was reluctantly released on 9th of November, 2020, through the intervention of the elders of the NBA, Ikom Branch, after some other counsel had made fruitless efforts to get the police to release him.
The petitioner prayed the panel to dismiss and prosecute the DPO, stating that he was not fit to be an officer of the Nigeria police.
He is also requesting the panel to order that the DPO pay him the sum of N20 millio as compensation for the assault.
In addition, he sought an order of the panel mandating an apology approved by the NBA and published in two (2) national dailies .
Responding to the allegations, James Idachaba, counsel to the police, told the panel that Danja was not present at the panel.
The matter was adjourned till 15th of April, 2021 for the police to ensure the presence of the DPO at the panel.