A 68-year-old woman, Durojaiye Olaleye, has recounted her experience in the hands of the Nigerian police on Monday and how she was slapped several times by a police officer.
Mrs Olaleye, a mother of one of the protesters arrested during a peaceful protest on Monday, in Lagos, said told PREMIUM TIMES that went to the Hogan Bassey Police Division in Surulere to inquire about her son.
The #EndSARS protest, a campaign against police brutality, killings, harassment and extortion, has been ongoing in different parts of Lagos and across Nigeria.
During Monday’s protest, two people were killed while many protesters were harassed and forcefully dragged to the police station for being part of the peaceful protest.
The Nigerian Constitution allows peaceful assemblies, peaceful conduct of meetings and processions but the Nigerian police have been used by the government to disrupt peaceful gatherings, by harassing and arresting peaceful protesters.
Mrs Olaleye’s son was one of the arrested protesters on Monday and was taken to the Hogan Bassey Police Station in Surulere.
“It is our duty as a family to go to a police station and ask about our people in their custody. We need to know whether they will release them on bail, so that we can arrange for a lawyer or that they are taking them to court,” the 68-year-old told PREMIUM TIMES.
“They must give us details of what to do. If they are arraigning them, they need to tell us the court so that we will meet them at the court. That was the reason why we went there. I went them with two of my sisters that our people have been arrested since 1 p.m. and this was to 6 p.m., ” Mrs Olaleye.
Mrs Olaleye said on getting to the police station, they met a team of police officers and they exchanged greetings.
While going into the station, an officer approached them from behind and started raining slaps on her for no reason, she explained.
“I was wondering that where is the entrance to this police station then I saw a small gate with a small table there and I said that must be where we’re supposed to ask and they will tell us what to do.
“As we were about going to that place, we just heard a commanding tone behind us that “all of you, get out of this place.” As I looked back to check what was happening, I heard the slap ‘gboah!’
“We had not even mentioned anything before he slapped me. What did I do wrong? What is it? He slapped me again.
“The police that were around just gathered together to hold him back and he started struggling with them and he came back again and gave me another slap.
“They were holding him, then he just freed himself again, went to one police officer and collected his gun. He started opening the gun and I said even if you kill me at this age, I am not a young person and there is no way we will not leave this earth one day, whether you are young or old,” she said.
A video of Mrs Olaleye’s outbursts after she was slapped by the police circulated on social media Monday, with the 68-year-old asking ‘What did I do wrong?’
Mrs Olaleye told PREMIUM TIMES that the other police officers struggled to collect the gun from the officer who slapped her, and he ran to the main gate where there were about three or four policemen, collected a small pistol one of them was holding, and ran back.
“I have been hearing of police brutality, I never witnessed it before. Had it been that man, the station officer, did not make all those efforts, he will shoot me,” she said.
The police officer, whose identity is unknown, seemed to have mental issues, Mrs Olaleye said.
“As we were going with the other policemen, he ran after us and slapped the SO (Station officer) at the back.
Angered by the incident, the woman said she was not told the name of the officer in question.
“They didn’t wear uniforms, they were not in Nigerian police uniform. There was no tag, no name on them,” she said.
Strong in the demands of youth for the #EndSARS campaign is the psychological evaluation and training of Police officers to ensure they are fit to be in the force and handle arms.
The #EndSARS /#EndSWAT protest continues in many parts of the country despite various concessions that have been made by the federal government.