A former aspirant for the Delta State House of Assembly seat in Ethiope East Local Government Area, Mr. Rex Ogboru, has called on youths to restrain themselves from further protests, adding that their voices have been heard and that the presidency has assured Nigerians that there would be police reforms following the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Ogboru added that the SARS operatives went too far before they were disbanded.
According to him, “they have harassed and made life difficult for the youths,” saying that though “the President has ended SARS, the youths channeled their grievances through protests,” as he called on the president to act on his promise so the youths can live their normal life.
Continuing, he opined that the protesters resorted to violence because of what happened at Lekki toll gate since some youths were not happy with the alleged killings.
“I guess that was why some hoodlums or thugs hijacked the protests. I believe the security personnel that were sent to calm the protesters went too far by shooting at them; it is wrong because they are not supposed to shoot at harmless protesters with live ammunitions when there are other options like rubber bullets and water canon that can be used to repel them. I am not happy with what happened,” he stated.
When asked if he expects any good thing from the reforms of the police promised by Mr. President, he said: “Well, I am not at the helms of affairs but I want to advice the leaders to do the needful because if they don’t it might result to something more catastrophic because we are seated on a keg of gun powder.”
He continued: “What I am saying is that the youths will not take things lightly with them but I believe the leaders will do the needful by reforming the police, making sure they do the right thing, paying them handsomely at the end of every month, improving on their welfare and also equipping them well.
“In US, seeing a police officer on the street makes you feel secured unlike in Nigeria where police officers are not properly dressed; we can barely tell the difference between a policeman and an armed robber.”
Narrating his ordeal in the hands of operatives of SARS, he said: “I have been a victim of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) assault. I was driving down from Lagos when I got stopped by them in Benin, Okada to be precise. They asked me to come down, bring out my papers and open my booth.
The officer took my bag out of the booth and wanted to search the content of my bag in the bush. I stopped him and told him to search the bag in my presence which he did. Then, he asked for money, I refused. He said it was their normal way of doing things there.
“As I was about leaving, a different officer knocked my glass, entered my car and collected my phone then he asked me to open it. I objected to his request, telling him that he had no right to invade my privacy. He claimed it was his right, I told him that even the IGP had no right to check phones.
Then I asked if he had a warrant, he said no. He held me there with my aunt. The officers prevented us from making and taking calls. We were there, stayed there from 10am to 4pm. They almost molested me but retreated because I was not intimidated by them.
I asked if we were under arrest but they said no. Then I asked why we were being held, they claimed I was a kidnapper. I wanted them to take me to the police station, they refused and said I will be there till 6pm when they close.
“I lied that I was pressed and went into the bush in search for help. I saw two Fulani herdsmen and asked for their phone. They said they did not have one. They could barely understand me. Then, I went further into the bush and finally met a farmer who had a phone but didn’t have airtime.
So we had to locate a nearby village to get airtime. I called my wife and brother and also got the number of who I wanted to call in Abuja. I placed the call and told him what was happening.
“My brother came to pick me up from the village around 9pm. Then, he took me to the police station. The police officers were already telling my aunt that I ran away so they towed my vehicle from Okada to State Command, Benin. The person I contacted in Abuja called the CP, Babatunde Kokumo and told him I was coming to see him.
When the officers involved learnt of my coming, they quickly told the CP that I ran into the bush while they were searching my car. Fortunately, he did not believe their story and asked to see me. I told him my side of the story. He was very angry with them and questioned why they wanted to search my phone.
“He accused them of trying to check my account balance and then kill me. He gave an order to detain the seven of them and he returned my belongings. I guess they were dismissed. The CP is actually a very nice man.
“I believe there is still hope because not all police officers are bad. If the police have more people like the CP then we can reform the police to become a better organization.”
To the youths, he reiterated his earlier call to be calm for now, noting “just like the president has said, he has heard their cry and he will act on it. So I advice we just wait for him to do the needful.”