A 41-year-old man, Francis Ossajiokweh, has demanded an apology letter and compensation from the police for false ‘media parade’ and unlawful torture by police officers.
Mr Ossajiokweh narrated to the panel on Saturday how the police tortured him and published his name in the newspaper as a hoodlum arrested for stolen vehicle, over the purchase of a vehicle.
Mr Ossajiokweh, who worked as a driver with flour mills told the panel that he bought a Toyota Auris car from a man, Afeez Asogba, on May 28, 2020, and on August 15, 2020, the police arrested him for allegedly stealing a vehicle.
“On August 15, 2020, about 4pm, I was arrested and taken to Ilasan police station in respect of the car I bought from Mr Afeez Asogba and about 4:30 pm, I was taken to the orderly room where I was asked questions of how I got the car.
“Even before I started explaining, I was being beaten by one Mr Taiwo. Later on, CSP, Arogba Phillips came and asked me how I got the car. I told him I purchased it from Mr Afeez Osogba.
“He asked Mr Taiwo to handcuff me and that I should produce the gun I used in robbing and snatching the car from the occupant,” he narrated.
Mr Ossajiokweh said he explained to the police officer that he bought the vehicle and has evidence to show the purchase but they turned deaf ears.
He told the panel that he was tortured by the police despite his pleas.
“He (Mr Philips) beat me to the extent that I could not move, my bone was dislocated. I told him I bought the car and he should investigate. He said blood must come out of my body before he stops. He beat me for 30minutes and after then, he put me in the cell,” the victim narrated.
Mr Ossajiokweh told the panel he has the receipt of the purchase, photocopies of the car document and a copy of the bank transfer he did to Mr Osogba.
He narrated that he bought the Toyota Auris car at the rate of N320, 000 because it was in a bad state.
Narrating the incident further, Mr Ossajokweh said he was transferred to SARS, Ikeja on August 16, alongside his mechanic.
“We were taken to OC SARS office. In his words, the OC SARS acted professionally, he told me, you did yourself good by telling us who you bought the car from. He told them to detain me while investigation continues,” Mr Ossajiokweh said.
He was bailed on August 17 after his family paid the sum of N255, 000 to the police – N45, 000 was paid for mobilisation to Inspector Mathew James the IPO and another N15, 000, which he said was his personal money for helping me. Then N200, 000 for bail, he narrated.
“After my release from SARS detention, I had to seek medical attention from the local people to treat my hand. Then, my brother called me from the US that he saw a publication on the internet portraying me as a criminal and me being a hoodlum.
“He said I should type our family name on Google Chrome that I will see it there. Secondly, he said I should check PUNCH newspaper published on the 17th of August, portraying me as a hoodlum and as a criminal.
“That was when I remembered fully well that my pictures were taken while I was at Mushin, Olosan Division by the DCO. I asked him why he was taking my pictures and mechanics, when he said the DPO told him to snap us and we should not blame him,” he said.
Mr Ossajiokweh said the DCO took about four pictures, telling himself and his mechanic to stay closer to the vehicle because the DPO said the earlier pictures were not clear.
“The story had gone viral, I went through a lot of pains, lost a lot of things. Friends had to leave me, people ran away from me seeing this story of me being an armed robber.”
Stating his demands to the panel, Mr Ossajiokweh said he wants an apology letter from the police and the same should be published on PUNCH newspaper where he was earlier published.
Mr Ossajiokweh also demanded justice, compensation, and that disciplinary action be taken against DSP Phillips Arogba, to serve as a deterrent to others.
Documents of the purchased Toyota Auris car and photographs showing his injuries were tendered before the panel and accepted as exhibits.
During cross-examination, Joseph Eboseremen, the counsel for the police, asked the petitioner how he met Afeez Asogba, whom he purchased the vehicle from.
“On May 28, 2020, I got to know Mr Afeez through Mr Balogun, a friend I had known eight months before the incident. I met Mr Afeez at his workshop where he worked as a car mechanic,” Mr Ossajiokweh responded.
“By the time you bought the car from Mr Afeez, you went through the particulars, is that not correct? The particulars that Afeez gave, the name there was not Afeez Asogba. Did you ask for the person whose name is on the car?,” Mr Eboseremen asked.
The petitioner said he asked the seller – Mr Asogba, and the answer he gave was that he bought it from an Army officer.
“I asked Mr Balogun how well he knows Afeez and he told me he knows him very well and since he said he bought it from an Army officer, there was no problem.
“Based on that, I told him he would give me a receipt in his name, and he will sign that he sold the car, and Balogun the witness.
“At the same time, I tried calling the number on the document just to be double sure, but the number wasn’t connecting,” Mr Ossajiokweh.
Mr Eboseremen, the police counsel also asked whether the petitioner witnessed the payment of N255, 000 by his family members to the police.
“I was there, they brought me from the cell to the office when my family came to bail me. In their office, they had a camera, they went to the back and started counting the money. I was there when they counted the money,” Mr Ossajiokweh said.
The police counsel prayed for an adjournment to allow the police to gather more facts about the case.
Dorris Okuwobi, the Chairperson of the panel, adjourned the matter till February 2, for further hearing.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999