SARS AGAIN!


By Kunle Akinrinade 

  • Police outfit destroys trader’s leg, causes her to walk on crutches
  • She hit her leg against patrol van – PPRO

While the dust raised by the evil deeds of some men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) are yet to settle, the police outfit is in the news again for the wrong reason as some of its men brutally assaulted a trader and mother of one, Omolola Ajibade, during an illegal raid in Ajuwon area of Lagos State, breaking her leg in the process.

The incident, according to Ajibade, who now walks with the aid of crutches, occurred penultimate Friday in front of Raji Plaza on Alagbole Road, Ajuwon.

Ajibade, who sells men wears, was waiting for a vehicle to take her home after she attended a show organised by one of her friends to mark the country’s 60th independence anniversary, when a team of SARS operatives in a mini bus attempted to arrest her for wandering at about 11pm.

The 33-year-old indigene of Ekiti State, said she was waiting at the bus stop with her boyfriend when the operatives arrived and tried to force her and her boyfriend into their bus.

The SARS operatives were said to have slapped Ajibade several times for demanding an explanation for her arrest at a time there was no curfew or restriction of movement.

In the process of trying to force her into their operation van, one of the officers allegedly broke Ajibade’s right leg with the butt of his rifle, pushing her and her boyfriend into the bus and drove them alongside two others to the Ajuwon Police Station in Ogun State.

Ajibade said: “The incident occurred on October 2, 2020. One of my friends who runs a wine shop at Raji Plaza had staged a musical show in celebration of Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary. I attended the show with my boyfriend and I sold some men’s wear to male revellers at the event.

“The show ended at about 10 pm and the vehicle that was to take us home had taken some of those who attended the event to their homes. We were waiting at the bus stop in front of the plaza when a mini-bus conveying a team of SARS operatives halted where I stood with my boyfriend and two others, and the policemen attempted to arrest us.

“I tried to explain to them that we were waiting for the car that would take us home, which had just left a few minutes earlier to drop some revellers at their homes in the neighbourhood, but one of the officers slapped me for having the effrontery to talk.

“I told the officer that slapped me that he had no right to slap me for demanding an explanation for an unlawful raid at a time there was no restriction on movements.

“The officers felt offended by my remarks and one of them broke my leg with the butt of his rifle, causing me to collapse. Still, the unfeeling officers dragged me into their bus and drove us to Ajuwon Police Station, where I was dumped on the floor of a cell.

“Realising that my right leg had been broken with the butt of their rifle, one of them picked me up from the floor inside the police station where I reclined and raised the alarm that I needed urgent medical attention as I could no longer walk.”

Ajibade explained further that she was

“Realising that my right leg had been broken with the butt of their rifle, one of them picked me up from the floor inside the police station where I reclined and raised the alarm that I needed urgent medical attention as I could no longer walk.”

Ajibade
Ajibade

Ajibade explained further that she was  treatment, from where she was referred to the National Orthopaedic Hospital.

Jolted by the incident, the policemen hurriedly released Ajibade’s boyfriend and two others detained at the station.

Ajibade, who now walks with the aid of crutches, said that rather than keep her in the hospital, the police authorities at Ajuwon Division have instead hired an orthopaedic nurse to treat her at home.

“The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the station and the officers involved have been pleading with me not to make the incident public, but I have to speak out now because I am feeling excruciating pains in the leg.

“The orthopaedic nurse they hired demanded a sum of N100,000, out of which she has only been paid N40,000 by the errant policemen and their DPO.

She added: “One of the policemen is called Bayo, and I can identify him any time, any day. It is even funny that the SARS operatives are attached to a station based in Ogun community, while they carried out an illegal arrest in the Lagos axis of the community, during which they brutalised me and broke my leg.

“I want justice served in this matter because I have been told that I risk losing my leg completely if I do not receive adequate treatment to restore it.”

A social media user, Vaughn Itemuagbor recently narrated how he was subjected to harassment and intimidation during two encounters with SARS operatives.

He claimed the encounters left him with bodily injuries, saying that SARS officials seemed to have singled him out for torture on a monthly basis.

He said the SARS operatives eventually forced him to part with the sum of N150,000 for his freedom.

A graphic footage had surfaced last Sunday on the social media, showing operatives of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FedSARS) dragging two men from a hotel in Lagos and shooting one of them in the street. The footage generated outrage across the country.

The footage led to many citizens calling for outright scrapping of SARS across the states of the federation, following reports of widespread human rights abuse, including brutality and extra-judicial killings, perpetrated by the notorious police outfit in recent times. The resultant EndSARS campaign on social media was championed by notable Nigerian entertainers including Olamide, Wizkid, Naira Marley, Ruggedman, Davido, Teni, and P-square.

It will be recalled that a judicial commission was set up by the Federal Government in 2018 to investigate the activities of SARS and make far-reaching recommendations for the reformation of the outfit. However, the report of the commission has not been made public two years after it completed the assignment.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had last Sunday banned operatives of SARS and other special tactical units from carrying out stop and search operations or mounting roadblocks, vowing that operatives would henceforth appear in their uniforms.

Contacted on the phone, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of Ogun State Police Command, Mr Abimbola Oyeyemi, said Ajibade’s leg was fractured after she hit it against the body of the vehicle while resisting arrest.

Oyeyemi, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the officers were carrying out their lawful duty by enforcing the restriction of movement and procession order issued by the Ogun State Government to contain secessionist agenda of agitators for Odua Republic when they tried to arrest Ajibade and others.

He said: “The policemen were trying to enforce the restriction of movement and procession order issued by the state government in the wake of agitation for the Odua Republic.

“The order was meant to restrict human and vehicular movements and procession between September 30 and October 3 starting from 10 pm to 6 am.

“In the course of arresting her (Ajibade) and others around 3 am, she resisted arrest and even severely bit one of the policemen, during which she also hit her leg against the iron part of the vehicle’s body and had her leg fractured.

“Notwithstanding her attitude at the time of the arrest, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Ajuwon Division mobilised her for treatment at a hospital and defrayed the medical bills, and her health has since improved.”


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