A petitioner, Taiwo Oyewunmi, on Friday narrated to the Lagos Judicial Panel on police brutality how he was handcuffed with his 14-year-old son, Ayomide, by some unnamed police officers in Ajah.
The petitioner demanded financial compensation of N25 million.
Mr Oyewunmi, who represented his son, alleged that on September 10, 2020, some uninformed men stormed his apartment in the Ajah area of Lagos, and arrested him and his two sons including the 14-year-old.
“I was at home on the 10th of September 2020, I was about to use the bathroom, my first child, Olamide Oyewunmi, a graduate, had gone to work early in the morning as usual. While in the bathroom, I heard a noise, I was naked already in the bathroom. I didn’t know the direction that the noise was coming from. I took my boxers,” he said.
“I saw three men in my bedroom, barging into my bathroom before I wore my boxers, they had gripped me in my house, and I questioned them. They didn’t answer me.
“While they were dragging me from the bathroom, I quickly took my phone to call my people, they snatched the phone from me and handcuffed me.”
While Mr Oyewunmi was being dragged to his sitting-room, he said he met his son, Olamide, in handcuffs.
“As they dragged me to the sitting room, I saw my son in handcuffs and I questioned him, Olamide what did you do, what happened, he said he didn’t do anything, that as he was coming from Ajah, two men from a Sienna stopped him, the next thing was that they drove him into the vehicle and brought him home in handcuffs, and they took his phone, so he could not make any contacts.”
He said he was arrested while in his underwears and taken to the police station despite pleas from his wife and neighbours.
“People started coming out when my wife raised an alarm. My wife asked where they were taking us to. They came with guns, when my wife laid on the floor in front of their vehicle, they shot into the air.”
Mr Oyewunmi said the police took him to Langbasa police station in Ajah, then took him again to their Ikeja branch where he was detained without charges for a week.
“When we got there (station), a lot of people had gathered and the DPO was invited, when he came out, he said that this man is well known in this area, what happened? Then he asked If they were policemen and from where did they come from?
“Then they said they were policemen, the DPO demanded to see their ID cards, so they went back to the vehicle and brought out their ID cards to the DPO.
“The DPO said if they want to take us anywhere, there must be an invitation to back it up, which they didn’t provide, even the warrant of arrest was not provided.
“So, he said they should submit their ID cards while he made photocopies of it. After they had submitted the IDs for photocopy, they said the arrest was from a higher authority. So, the DPO left.
“So the DPO said they should allow me to wear clothes, so someone brought clothes which I wore.”
How minor was arrested
Narrating his son’s ordeal, he said after they left Langbasa police station, the leader of the policemen called his 14-year-old son.
“After Langbasa police state, at a roundabout, their leader asked them to stop, three people came down, they asked me to unlock my phone password, then they went a little distance, leaving me and Olamide in handcuffs. About 15 minutes later, my son (Olamide) said, this is Ayomide coming and I said, to come and do what?”
Mr Oyewunmi said when Ayomide arrived, the policemen dragged him from the bike, “released Olamide, and arrested Ayomide with handcuffs”.
“There is a paper-like higher education note, they called him (Ayomide) from there, and he arrived there with a bike. We saw him from the back, the policemen dragged him off the bike, then one of the policemen asked me to come down and took me to where the boy was.
“And they asked him, who I was to him, he said ‘he is my father’. And they removed one of my handcuffs and put it in Ayomide’s hand. Then they ‘paraded’ us to the vehicle.
He said Ayomide was traumatised following the incident and had not recovered till now.
He said some minutes after the minor was arrested, the police officers freed Olamide and drove to a police station in Ikeja. During this movement, Ayomide was in tears, said Mr Oyeyemi.
Mr Oyewunmi added that it took the intervention of the station’s DCO and instruction from the “higher authority not to detain the minor in the cell”.
“A police boss came out to say they should remove the handcuff because the boy was a minor, but the officers said they were following the higher authority’s directive,” he said.
“When they wanted to lock both of us in a cell, I started shouting, then the DCO said they should tell the higher authority that this boy is too young for this.
“After phone calls were made, an order came that the boy should be released. Then the DCO asked how my son will get home. They pushed my son outside and pushed me in the cell.”
‘Discharged and rearrested’
Mr Oyewunmi said after spending a week in police custody, he was taken to a magistrate and federal high court without being charged.
He said the presiding judge discharged him but he was arrested again after he stepped out of the Magistrate’s court.
“I was there for about six to seven days without writing any statement. I saw some patrolmen in uniform, they called me from the cell, I asked where we were going, they said we were going to Panti. But on our way going, they went to Yaba Magistrate Court. The judge discharged and acquitted me.
“After I was released, the police arrested me again immediately after I stepped out of the court. Nine days after they took me to Federal High Court,” he said.
“From there I was released on bail.”
He said three days after he was granted bail, his wife narrated how Ayomide was found.
“My wife told me that my son was roaming about and “was found by a familiar person”.
“It was that person that called my wife that he saw my son roaming about. That was how my wife was able to trace his location, the boy had no phone to communicate but later in the evening, his mother collected the phone at the police station,” he said.
Meanwhile, the petitioner’s lawyer, Kayode Bankole, presented the Magistrate and Federal High court rulings to the judge, Dorris Okuwobi. These were admitted as pieces of evidence in the petition.
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