Citizen Kester Edun’s recent ordeal in the hands of some policemen in Benin City, Edo State, came across like a scene from a horror movie. An on-line video showed the 38-year old commercial bus driver chained on the left hand to the back of a police patrol van and dragged along the street on Sunday, May 14, 2017.
Police authorities initially denied the barefaced brutality by its men, but the evidence was too compelling. Some horrified onlookers who pleaded on behalf of the man were allegedly assaulted. Edun was accused of being a cultist and some substances suspected to be Indian hemp and cocaine were allegedly found on a lone passenger in his bus when he was stopped and searched on the road, an allegation he denied.
Someone had lodged a complaint of a gathering of suspected cultists preparatory to the commission of a felony. This prompted police response which led to the arrest of Edun and the young man in the bus who escaped after an empty cigarette packet containing the incriminating substances was found on him.
Edo State is one of the states grappling with the mnace of cultism. Former Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s administration had to enact a law which prescribes death sentence for anyone convicted of the crime. As a law enforcement agency, the Police have a statutory responsibility for crime prevention. This duty must, however, be exercised within the ambit of the law at all times.
Our laws presume a person accused of an offence innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. Police officers and men are expected to exhibit due regard for citizens’ rights while carrying out their duties. Police personnel should not assume the role of judges in cases they are duty-bound to investigate.
The inhuman treatment meted out to Citizen Edun was an act of impunity because it presumed Edun guilty without trial. No Nigerian, no matter the gravity of the crime committed, deserves being chained to a moving van and dragged along like a log of wood. Such action by law enforcement officers is uncivilised and constitutes a rape on the rule of law. It is inconsistent with the ethos and core values of the police. This display of brute force and primitive sadism is a total disregard for the dignity of the human being and citizen. It is unacceptable in any decent society.
We urge the Police Complaint Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU) to get its facts right before rising in defence of policemen. We commend the Assistant Inspector- General of Police AIG, Zone 5, Benin City, and Mr Abubakar Mohammed, who condemned the conduct and ordered the detention of officers involved, while a proper investigation is carried out.