SARS officers threw me from two-storey building, broke my spinal cord, victim tells Lagos panel of inquiry

NDUKWE Ekwekwe, another petitioner at the ongoing Lagos panel of inquiry has narrated how officers of the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) tortured him, threw him from a two-story building, and had his spinal cord broken in the process.

The ICIR had on October 27, reported the ordeal of Okoli Agwu Abunike, the first petitioner at the panel of inquiry.

Ndukwe Ekwekwe, who appeared at the panel on Tuesday on a wheelchair, recounted how he was stripped naked and severely tortured by SARS officers in 2016.

Ekwekwe said he was a trader at the Alaba-Rago market before the SARS operatives led by Inspector Haruna invaded his shops to arrest him without telling him is offense.

““I was at my shop at Alaba-Rago Market on that fateful day in February 2018 for the day’s sales when some police officers from the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) came to me fully armed. I asked them what they wanted and they said they wanted to arrest me. Why? They didn’t say anything.”

He stated that they forced their way into his shop, scattered his goods, and shooting gun and tear gas into the air to disperse other traders that came to his rescue before they eventually dragged, handcuffed and whisked him to the Lagos Police Command, Ikeja.

“They forced their way into my shop, scattered all my wares but they didn’t find anything. This time, other traders had come around and they demanded to see their ID cards but they fired their guns and teargas into the air and they all left.

“After they ransacked all my shop, I was dragged outside, handcuffed and taken to the Lagos Police Command, Ikeja,” Ekwekwe narrated.

Ekwekwe further narrated that he was thoroughly beaten at the police command before they told him they had an intelligence report with an order from the Inspector General of Police to effect his arrest.

“At Ikeja, I took out my phone to call my mother but as soon as I was sighted by one of the officers, he hit my hand and head with a gun butt and I was dragged out of the van into the torture room where I was stripped naked and tortured and treated like a criminal without telling me what I had done wrong.

“I was persistent to know what I had done wrong and they told me they had an order from the Inspector General of Police to effect my arrest. They said they had an intelligence report on me. After I was thoroughly beaten, another team came around and began another round of beating. They later asked if I should be killed and the man I later know as Inspector Haruna said not yet.”

He said he was later dragged back to his shop the following day where goods at his three shops, running into N18m were sold by the SARS officers before he was thrown from a two-storey building to the ground and had his spinal cord broken in the process.

“The following day around 8 pm, I was taken back to my shop with my hands and legs chained. They broke into the shops, brought out my wares and sold everything to traders and passersby. I lost all the wares in my three shops worth N18m.

“While they were doing this, I started shouting to attract the attention of passersby and few of the traders around. When they discovered that I was agitated, the commander ordered one of his boys to keep me busy and he pushed me from a two-storey building to the ground.

That was how my spinal cord was broken. I fell to the ground unconscious. My mother told me that I was dumped at the police college.”

    Ekwekwe said he was later taken to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), where he was operated on.

    “I was taken to Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital but I was rejected and was later taken to Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH where I was operated upon.”

    The chairman of the judicial panel of inquiry, Doris Okuwobi, however, admitted the X-ray from the police college hospital in Ikeja, hospital bill, list of phone numbers of SARS officers involved, picture of the petitioner with a bandage on his head as exhibits.

    The judicial panel has adjourned further hearing on the matter till November 13.

    'Niyi worked with The ICIR as an Investigative Reporter and Fact-checker from 2020 till September 2022. You can shoot him an email via [email protected]. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @niyi_oyedeji.

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