For coming to serve his fatherland, a 26-year-old member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) serving in Ekiti State, Mr. Anthony Ebuka Onuagbara, is now about to lose an eye.
Not even the ophthalmologists are sure whether he will be able to see again with the eye. In his anguish, he has petitioned the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sotonye Wakama, over his travail, which he attributed to police brutality.
Onuagbara, who hails from Ezeama-Amichi in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, and who is expected to conclude his service next year, said he sustained serious injury when some policemen in Ado-Ekiti allegedly beat him recently.
Narrating his ordeal to reporters yesterday in Ado-Ekiti, Onuagbara currently serving at Bursar’s Office in Ekiti State University (EKSU), said trouble started when some men of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) stormed his house at Bode Ayeni area of Adebayo and started unleashing terror on the occupants.
He said the police squad invaded the area following a complaint by a woman to the police that a corps member in the house allegedly harassed her sexually.
The corps member, who said he was fast losing his sight following the beating he received from the police, has undergone eye surgery at the Ekiti State Teaching Hospital. The pain coupled with the sheer fact of inability to see, has taken a huge toll on the health and composure of Onuagbara.
He had been forced to settle the medical bill alone, as the police were not prepared to listen to his case.
Onuagbara, the only graduate among five children and son of petty traders, graduated with a degree in Marketing from the Anambra State University.
According to him, another corps member, simply identified as Michael, picked the lady, whom he described as a commercial sex worker at about 6pm on August 12, 2012 at Fajuyi Area of Ado-Ekiti to spend the night with him. They were said to have agreed on N3,000, which would be paid the next day.
However, disagreement ensued when Michael reneged on the agreement by offering to pay her N2,000.
He said Michael’s action infuriated the woman and this forced her to seek assistance from the SARS operatives.
Many wondered why the case of a commercial sex worker’s disagreement should become the concern of SARS, a unit dedicated to the crushing of armed robbery.
Onuagbara added that shortly after the woman left, some SARS operatives invaded the premises at about 11pm and started breaking the doors and unleashing terror on the occupants of the house.
“As I was sleeping, I heard a bang on my door and suddenly woke up. And immediately the policemen got into my apartment, one of them hit me in my right eye with the butt of his rifle and I started bleeding profusely,” he said.
The victim explained that four corps members, including him, were arrested and detained.
He said he was detained for four days without access to medication until they were bailed by one Okeya, so that he could have access to medical treatment.
According to him, the four of them were later arraigned before a magistrates’ court in Ado-Ekiti on a two-count charge of rape and felony.
But they were discharged and acquitted on September 5, 2012, when the police withdrew their case against them because there was no evidence to try them for the offences for which they were arraigned. A classical case of putting the cart before the horse, as they were supposed to have established a watertight case against the accused before charging them to court.
He said he had complained to the NYSC zonal inspector in Ado Ekiti, but expressed regrets that no efforts had been made to bail him out of his predicament.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Victor Babayemi Olu, said Wakama had set up a high-powered committee to investigate the allegations.
“I can assure you that if any official acted in such a brutal manner, he would be made to face the music. We need a little more time to complete the investigation and truth shall be revealed,” he said.