SARS officials beat the hell out of me, paraded me as criminal, petitioner tells NHRC panel

A geologist, Ezeani Henry, on Wednesday told the independent investigative panel on the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other police units set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that the hell was beaten out of him, handcuffed and paraded as a criminal by operatives of SARS in Abuja about three years ago.

Led in evidence before the panel by his counsel, Maxwell Opara, Henry informed that on June 30, 2017, he received a call from his customer who needed his service for geophysical survey.

He said as he could not make it, he asked his partner, Stephen Iwuamadi, to go and attend to the customer.

According to him, “At about 5 pm, Mr Stephen called me to hand over the geophysics machine to me and said he was at Berger junction.

“When I got there, I didn’t see him and I parked. It was then two men forcefully jumped into my car and asked for my phone. I asked who they were and they said they were policemen,” Henry told the panel.

He added that he told them to go to the nearby Berger police station for them to be identified as policemen, which infuriated them and one of them brought out a handcuff and handcuffed him.

“I created a scene for people to intervene. People then told them to take me to the nearby police station for them to be identified. They then took me there and they were identified as policemen from SARS,” he stated.

According to him, the infuriated SARS operatives took him in their vehicle from the police station to their office at Abattoir, Garki, Abuja, adding that they threatened to kill him.

“As we reached the gate of their office, they started to beat me with a wooden stool and a rusted machete. I was asking them what was my offence but they didn’t tell me anything but kept threatening to kill me.

“We got to their office at about 6:30 pm and they took me into a room. From that time till 11 pm, they were beating me. They beat the hell out of me.”

He further said that at about 1 am, the following day, one officer, Bawa James, came and told him (Henry) that he saw a particular number they were tracking and asked if he knew one Chuks Anaekwe.

“I told them I knew Chuks as a contractor who I sometimes do subcontract with and that we stay in the same estate. They then asked me to take them to his house.

“I did at about 1:30 am and Chuks refused to open the door of his house. We then stayed inside their vehicle. Meanwhile, all this while they refused to allow me to call my wife or even lawyer.

“My wife kept calling but they did not let me pick. It was at about 7 am that they allowed me to call my wife and I told her what was happening. Between 6:30 am and 9 am, they paraded me in my estate as a criminal with handcuff in my hands.”

He added that Chuks’ lawyer later came to tell them that he would bring his client to their office and they later left the estate with him back to their office.

Henry said he told his wife to go and bring his automated teller machine (ATM) card in case the SARS operatives might ask for money.

According to him, on the way back to their office, the SARS operatives told him to pay the sum of N350,000 to bail himself, which he said he told them he did not have such amount.

“When I said that, one of them slapped me and I received another round of beating. When I saw how desperate they were, I asked my wife to go and withdraw N150,000 but she only withdrew N40,000 from my account and went to raise money and brought N120,000 to the SARS people.”

The petitioner informed it was after he paid the money that he was allowed to go home, adding that he went to the hospital to treat himself.

Counsel for the respondents, Godwin Ijioma, sought for an adjournment enable discuss with ASP Bawa James, list as the first respondent in the petition with a view to doing substantial justice in the matter.

Based on this, the chairman of the panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima (retd), then adjourned the petition till December 14 for continuation.

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