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15 Mar 2018

Lodge a Formal Complaint - Police Ask Man Tortured by SARS

The Officer-in-Charge of the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit, Yomi Sogunle, has asked Lucky Joseph, a mechanic who was allegedly tortured by some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, to make a formal complaint to the unit.

Sogunle, who declined comment on the torture, said he could only talk after the victim had reported to the unit.

Joseph was allegedly tortured close to his residence in the Choba Extension, Obio Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.

A video showing three SARS operatives beating up the mechanic had gone viral on the Internet last Thursday.

While one slammed him repeatedly with a cutlass, another was seen opening a tear gas canister in his face; the third official held him.

The victim’s trousers were pulled down, exposing his private parts.

The assault went on until two men intervened towards the end of the one minute video.

Joseph later told PUNCH Metro that some residents contributed N30,000 which they paid the operatives before he was released.

In response to a poll by The PUNCH on some social media platforms, Nigerians had demanded that the state CP, Zaki Ahmed, resign if he could not bring the erring policemen to book.

Initially, when our correspondent contacted Sogunle, he said he could not comment because the case was not reported to his unit.

When PUNCH Metro asked for the procedure through which the complaint could be made, he sent a text of the phone numbers of the unit, saying PCRRU could look into the matter.

“Report your complaint against the police at the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit available 24/7. Our quick response will put a smile on your face. PCRRU says no to impunity,” the text read.

The alleged torture of Joseph is not the first case of unresolved human rights abuse in the Rivers State Police Command.

In February 2017, PUNCH Metro reported that a painter, Mr. Ese Akpan, was going to work when he was shot dead by a cop in a police team escorting a bullion van on Old Aba Road, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt.

No policeman was arrested for that killing, which was captured on the CCTV camera of a hospital near the scene of the incident.

A series of reports on that killing, including the footage of the killing, which went viral on the Internet, was not acted upon.

The case petered out of the public space, while the victim’s family mourned in quiet.

In February 2018, a policeman reported to be escorting a truck loaded with frozen chicken and fish, allegedly alighted from the vehicle and shot dead a cab driver, identified as Bright Mark.

Although the command issued a statement saying it was investigating the killing, nothing had been heard.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, did not pick his calls and had yet to respond to a text message sent to his telephone line since Tuesday on the alleged torture of Joseph.

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