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Soldiers, policemen torture DJs over missing phone

Soldiers, policemen torture DJs over missing phone

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Afeez Hanafi

What was supposed to be an enthralling birthday party at a hotel on Ehi Road, Aba, Abia State, turned bland after a disk jockey team invited for the show were accosted and allegedly tortured by some soldiers who accused them of stealing a phone – Gionee A1.

The DJs – Ifeanyi Ogba, his twin brother, Ogbonna, Orji Raymond Chisom Anyaele and Ifeanyi Okechukwu – also accused some policemen at the Cameron Barracks Police Station in Aba, where the soldiers took them to, of beating them up without taking their statements.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that one of the soldiers, Mayowa Adeniyi, who was attached to the hotel, accused the DJs of stealing his phone and took them to the police station, where they were detained.

Ogba, who spoke to our correspondent on Thursday, said the Divisional Police Officer of the station directed that they be released the following day only for them to be re-arrested on the station premises by the soldiers.

He said, “On Saturday, May 26, 2018, around 6pm, we went for the birthday party of our colleague, DJ Shanchi, at Grand Lotte World Hotels. After setting up our instruments, we were on the hotel premises discussing about the next event when the soldier (Adeniyi) drove in. He greeted us and went into the hotel.

“Ten minutes after the birthday party started, he came from the second floor of the hotel to the hall and held Chisom. We asked the soldier what was happening and he started beating  us. He asked us to provide his Gionee phone. He said the phone was stolen while we were greeting him. We told him we did not find any phone. A colleague of his joined him and we were beaten up.

“He (Adeniyi) ordered us and two others into his Toyota Camry and drove us to the Cameroon Barracks Police Station. The policemen forced us to lie down and they stepped on our backs. A policeman ordered us to remove our clothes and we were locked up in a cell. The following day, the DPO invited us to his office for interrogation. We told him we didn’t know anything about the phone. The DPO asked us to contribute N11,000 each to buy another phone for the soldier.”

Ogba explained that the DPO eventually rescinded his decision after his (Ogba’s) uncle intervened in the matter, adding that they were about to leave the station when Adeniyi and his colleagues stormed the premises in a Hilux van and ordered them into the vehicle.

He said the soldiers drove them to a military base on Ngwa Road and unleashed another round of torture on them.

“They stripped us to the shorts and beat us mercilessly with planks and machetes. We were tortured to the point that we could no longer withhold the pains. We had to yield to contribute money to buy a new phone for him. Chisom called his father on the telephone for his contribution and the man came to the base. He cried when he saw how his son was groaning. We contributed N93,000 to buy another phone for the soldier before we were released on Sunday evening. We could not go for a show we had been paid for that day,” Ifeanyi added.

The National Coordinator, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, said the organisation had petitioned the National Human Rights Commission on behalf of the victims to get justice.

Nwaguma described the conduct of the soldiers as an abuse of power and sheer violation of the victims’ rights. He urged NHRC to investigate the incident and prevail on the military as well as the police authorities to bring the perpetrators to book.

The petition, dated July 5, 2018, read in part, “NOPRIN has received information from Mr. Ifeanyi Ogba concerning the unprovoked and unwarranted acts of brutality, unlawful detention, attempted murder and extortion by Lance Corporal Mayowa Adeniyi and other soldiers attached to Ngwa Road Military Checkpoint, Ohanku, Aba, Abia State.

“The conduct of these soldiers runs against the spirit of the ongoing effort by the commission in collaboration with military authorities to build and strengthen civil-military relations and to restore discipline and professionalism to the military. NOPRIN calls on the NHRC to kindly and urgently carry out a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation into the misconduct of the soldiers, as well as the policemen at the Cameron Barracks Police Station who detained and brutalised the victims.

“The soldiers should be made to refund the sum of N93,000 they extorted from the victims as well as refund the cost of the medical treatment for the injuries they inflicted on the victims. The soldiers should be subjected to appropriate disciplinary actions in accordance with the military laws and regulations as a deterrent to others.”

Adeniyi, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, said he and two colleagues met the DJs on the premises on arrival at the hotel that day, adding that one of his colleagues knew the DJs.

He said his phone and shirt were with the colleague, who called one of the DJs and asked him to bring the items along with them as they (the soldiers) went upstairs.

Adeniyi, who explained that he discovered his phone was missing shortly after they reached upstairs, said he had a strong belief that it was stolen by one of the DJs.

“The phone was inside the clothes. It fell down while my colleague wanted to give the clothes to one of those boys. We rushed down to the premises and didn’t meet them on the premises again. One of them hid in the hall and I picked him up. Through him, I was able to get his friends.

“A lot of people were in the hall. I screened 15 of them and took 10 persons to the police station. I was disorganised. I was crying because I have a lot of information in that phone. I begged them to release the phone and promised to give them money. I bought the phone for N95,000.

“It was the police that told them to contribute money to buy another phone for me. I asked the police to release them for me and I took them to my place. One of them was trying to prove that he knew people; I flogged and slapped him. I asked them to provide my phone and they contributed N93,000. I went with two of them to buy another phone.

“If they claimed that I or my colleagues tortured them, they should provide video evidence. The policemen did not beat them either; they only locked them up.”

The Police Public Relations Officer in Abia State, DSP Geoffrey Ogbonna, said he was not aware of the case.

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