A 38-year-old commercial bus driver, Kester Edun, has narrated how he was handcuffed by some policemen to their van and subjected to inhumane treatment for about seven hours in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State for an offence he claimed he did not commit.
A video clip of the May 15 incident, where Edun was seen laying on the ground with left hand handcuffed to the van, after having been reportedly dragged for some distance, had been uploaded on Facebook and attracted wide condemnation from many Nigerians.
A resident in the area, Augustine Ogbonmwan, who reportedly captured the brutality meted out to the victim on his mobile phone, was also said to have been detained.
The victim, a father of one from Delta State, was said to have been stopped by the security operatives from the Esigie Police Division, while he was driving along with a passenger, whom he had given a lift at First Junction, off Sakponba road.
The policemen were said to have searched him but found nothing incriminating.
It was, however, learnt that the passenger suddenly fled when the security operatives found an “empty” pack of cigarettes on him.
But Edun said that it dawned on him that the policemen were after him when they refused to go after the fleeing passenger who had not gone too far from them.
He also noted that the security operatives, who also rejected his plea of innocence, cuffed his hand to their van and dragged him on the road as they drove away, in order to compel him to admit being an accomplice to the passenger.
He said that he had heard some passers-by expressing sympathy and asking what his offence was before the policemen descended on him.
He also claimed to have lost some amount of money and his phone in the process.
He explained, “That Sunday, as I was driving my bus, one boy begged me to give him a lift. As I got to Third Junction, some policemen from the Esigie police division stopped me. With the mind that I did not have any incriminating thing on the bus, I parked and waited. They brought me down and searched me but did not find anything.
“When the boy who was with me was searched, they found an empty pack of cigarettes in his pocket. I did not know what was inside the packet of cigarette. But as soon as they brought the packet out, the boy ran away. I asked them if they would not run after him. But they did not mind him; they were only after me.
“They ordered me to bring my hand and I asked what the problem was. But they did not listen to me. They handcuffed me to the vehicle and threatened to pull me along with the vehicle, adding that I would accept that I was the boy’s accomplice if I was tortured.
“I told them that I did not know the boy or his whereabouts. But they held me and dragged me from First (junction) to Third Junction. People who saw me started asking them what my offence was. So, they (policemen) parked and started hitting me and I did not know what happened afterwards because I fainted on the ground and did not know who was recording. One of them hit me with a wood to see if I was pretending and if I would shout out of pain.”
It was learnt that Edun was later taken rushed to a private hospital by the policemen, where he was again handcuffed to a hospital bed and later detained in a cell at the state criminal investigation department for allegedly being a cultist, an allegation he denied.
The bus driver, however, called for his release and the return of his seized property
“I later saw myself in a hospital on Muritala Mohammed Way; I did not know how I got there. I asked the nurse how I got there and why I was handcuffed to the bed. She told me that the police brought me there.
“One of them (policemen), who was not among those that arrested me, came, took me away from the hospital and kept me in a cell at the state CID. They said that I was a cultist.
“I am not a cultist and have never been one since I was born. I am not against policemen and their job. I want them to release me, because I did not do anything, and give me my phone and money. I remit N5,000 to the owner of the seized bus every day and he has been calculating it since the incident occurred.”
It was, however, gathered that Edun and Ogbonwan were later released on Wednesday evening.
It was also gathered that the erring policemen had been arrested and detained on the order of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 5, Mr. Abubakar Mohammed.
Reacting to the incident, Mohammed said that while the zonal criminal investigation and intelligence department had commenced a full- investigation into the matter, the detained policemen were expected to face an orderly room trial on Thursday.
He, however, did not disclose the identities of the said policemen.
The AIG, who also condemned the action of the cops, described it as unprofessional and a violation of the principle of democratic policing.
He said, “The policemen would be sanctioned as soon as investigation into the matter is concluded. We wish to state that the victims, one Odozi Kester and Austin Ogbonmwan, were found in good health and are cooperating in the investigation.”