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20 Mar 2018

We are investigating case of SARS torture –Rivers CP says

The Rivers State Comissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, has said the command has begun investigation into the alleged torture of an artisan, Lucky Joseph.

Ahmed, who spoke to PUNCH correspondent on Monday, said the command would not condone any acts of indiscipline.

PUNCH Metro had reported that 38-year-old Joseph was allegedly tortured by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad 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 two weeks ago.

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 had 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, Ahmed, resign if he could not bring the erring policemen to book.

The Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, had exonerated the operatives on the allegation of possession of hemp without addressing the torture, while the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, did not respond to enquiries on the incident.

Joseph had written to the Police Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit, demanding justice.

He later expressed readiness to sue the police, as he sought a lawyer to claim damages on his behalf.

The CP, in a telephone conversation with our correspondent on Monday, lamented the continuous reporting of the incident.

Ahmed said he had also seen the video, adding that Joseph resisted arrest which led to the struggle.

He said, “We are investigating. We don’t cover up anything. We have told our operatives that they are always in the public eye and they must watch their actions.”

The police boss said he was at a conference in Abuja and would ask the PPRO to formally address our correspondent on the extent of investigations on Tuesday.

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