A student of the University of Ilorin, who alleged he was brutalised and extorted by some officers of the Nigerian Police Force has called on the authorities for redress.
Oluwaseun Awogbenle, a 400-level student of Biochemistry, said he was brutalised and tortured by the police officers on November 18 during the local council elections in Kwara State.
Mr. Awogbenle said on a current affairs programme of Royal FM, a private radio station in Ilorin, Kwara State, that he was at a polling booth around Tanke area to monitor the electoral process as a citizen reporter and policy analyst on radio.
Narrating his ordeals to PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview, he alleged that he was maligned, brutalised and extorted by the officers because he took pictures at the polling centre.
“When I got to the polling booth, I approached a police official who gave me permission to cover the event and report.
“But just as I was about to take pictures, an APC agent accused me of being sponsored by the opposition and prevailed on the Police Corporal that we could not take pictures of the exercise and the ones I had earlier taken must be deleted,” he said.
“While the argument ensued, the Inspector who had earlier consented to my request became uncooperative and the APC agents threatened to get me arrested, but I dismissed it as an empty threat. In no time, the Police officers were hoodwinked into contacting their Area Commander.”
He explained that the Area Commander, on getting to the scene of the incident, asked why he would take pictures at a polling unit, to which he explained that he was a citizen reporter.
Mr. Awogbenle alleged that in the presence of the police officers, the APC agent slapped him in the face and was later joined by the police officers who rushed at him and forced him on his knees.
“On my knees still trying to justify my action, a police man came and slapped me twice, poured water on me, humiliated me and seized my phone.
“I sobbed and wept bitterly for my ordeal. I requested that they take me to my house where I could get my ID Card for identification, they denied me that right and insisted I must be a criminal! My plea was to no avail, we were quickly rounded up into their van.
“In the van were some boys who they had earlier arrested. After we moved a little distance, they stopped, asked the boys to contribute some money, collected the money from them and they were released, but they insisted we were not going to be released and that we would be taken to their office.
He continued, “As we moved further, they thoroughly searched our phones, deleted the pictures we took. As in my usual tradition in a bid to prove my innocence, once again, I requested that they take me to Royal FM office in Ilorin for identification. They vowed not to, rather the same police officer slapped me.
“As they drove us through Ilorin, somewhere in town, two of my friends from school identified me, followed the van through on a motorcycle. When we got to Maraba in Ilorin, the place they had been earlier assigned, the man who had dealt with me so ruthlessly asked the guys what they had to free me.
“The guys offered them N2000 at first, but they utterly declined, promising to carry us to their station and that we won’t get bail till the next Monday. Out of that anxiety, the guys quickly rallied and we could only manage to raise N4000 since none of us had our ATM cards. After so much plea, they collected the N4000 and freed us.”
Meanwhile, when PREMIUM TIMES contacted the Public Relations Officer of the Kwara State Police Command, Ajayi Okasanmi, he said the case had not been brought before him. He advised the alleged victim to report to the command officially.
But in a petition sent to PREMIUM TIMES by Mr. Awogbenle’s lawyer, Titilope Joseph, the victim is calling on the Kwara Police Command to investigate the matter and bring the alleged culprits to book.
The petition, dated November 21, also demanded a public apology published in a national newspaper from the Kwara State Police Commissioner and the Kwara State Police Command.