By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—The bus driver policemen handcuffed to their van in Benin, the Edo State capital, and dragged along the road has said the officers found only an empty packet of cigarette on him.
He added that the N3,000 and handset he had on him were removed and had not been returned to him.
Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 5, Benin, Mr. Abubakar Mohammed, has ordered the detention of the policemen involved in the incident.
AIG Mohammed, while saying that the officers’ conduct does not depict the ethics and core values of the Nigeria Police Force, said that their conduct violates the principle of democratic policing, adding that the Zonal Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, ZCIID, had commenced investigation into the matter.
The Zonal Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Emeka Iheanachor, in a statement in Benin yesterday, said the policemen would be sanctioned after investigation into the matter.
While disclosing that the victims of the police brutality, Odozi Kester and Austin Ogbonmwan, were found in good health and are cooperating in the investigation, he assured members of the public that everything would be done to ensure justice.
No evidence of dragging—Police
This is just as an Assistant Commissioner of Police in the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit, Force Headquarters, Abuja, Abayomi Shogunle, said there is no frame in the one minute 34 seconds video in circulation that shows anyone being dragged by a police patrol vehicle as insinuated.
In a statement in Abuja yesterday, ACP Shogunle said preliminary investigation reveals that the Police at Esigie Division, Benin, on Sunday received information regarding a congregation of suspected cultists.
According to him, “based on the information, a police team was dispatched to the scene where two males were arrested, while others took to their heels. On searching the person seen handcuffed to the vehicle in the video, some quantity of weeds, suspected to be Indian hemp, and powder, suspected to be cocaine, were found on him.
“Both suspects were then loaded into the patrol vehicle and secured accordingly to prevent escape during transportation to the police station.”
He added that at a point along Sapkonba Road, a crowd tried to prevent the free passage of the patrol vehicle transporting the suspects.
In the process, one of the suspects (seen in the video) tried to escape by jumping off the patrol van, but was restrained by the handcuffs attaching him to the vehicle.
He added that a reinforcement was called and the suspects were then taken to the station.
I regained consciousness in hospital—Victim
Meanwhile, the victim, Odozi, a bus driver, while speaking with journalists, said he was on his way to 1st East Circular Road when he was flagged down by policemen on patrol from Esigie Police Station.
He said: “I stopped and they searched my vehicle and found nothing except an empty packet of cigarette. While the search was on, the passenger in my vehicle took to his heels.
“The policemen then pounced on me despite my cry that they should tell me what my offence is.
“They handcuffed me to their vehicle and started dragging me along after giving me the beating of my life, while onlookers were wailing, demanding to know from them what my offence was.
“It was at a private hospital that I regained consciousness. I enquired from the hospital staff who brought me there and chained me to the bed and was told officers from Esigie Police Station.
“Meanwhile, the N3,000 that I had on me and my handset were removed and have not been returned to me.
“I was later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, before I was later brought to the office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, who is now investigating the matter.”