SARS Operatives Abused, Tortured My Cousin, Witness Alleges

  • Panel on police brutality adjourns till Dec. 4

By Segun James

The probe into the abuse of Nigerians by operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police continued Tuesday as a witness alleged that his cousin was brutalised, abused and tortured until he developed brain cancer.

According to businessman Chukwu Vincent, his cousin, Basil Ejiagwa, who is now dead, suffered loss of memory and eventually developed a brain tumour after he was tortured by SARS operatives in May 2014.

Vincent told the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel that after struggling with failing health for six years following the torture by policemen, Ejiagwa died in his village in Imo State, where he was relocated to from Lagos as his health continued to deteriorate and he became a shadow of his old self.

He said his cousin was picked up by policemen in the Igando area of Lagos and taken to the Igando Police Station where he was detained for five days and tortured.

Vincent told the panel that policemen at Igando Police Station broke his cousin’s two legs with a “brick iron hammer”.

Led in evidence by his lawyer, T.O. Gazali, Vincent told the panel that his cousin was arrested in May 2014 while coming back from Alaba International Market, Lagos, where he worked.

He said Ejiegwa was later transferred to SARS office in Ikeja, where he was further tortured, leading to the fracture of his skull.

Vincent said when Ejiagwa was eventually released on May 31, 2014, his head had been broken with the butt of a gun.

“Thereafter, he couldn’t walk anymore; he could not even remember certain things again,” Vincent said.

Vincent said Ejiagwa was rushed to one El-Shadai Hospital in Igando but he was rejected and referred to the Lagos State General Hospital at Igando.

“He could walk and do certain things,” after the torturing and fracturing of the man’s head.

Vincent said the victim later sued SARS and the Federal High Court in Lagos entered judgment in his favour and ordered the police to pay him N40m damages, however, since the judgment was delivered on April 16, 2019, the police had refused to honour it.

“This thing happened in 2014 and he could not do anything, he could not go anywhere. It took five years to get the judgment.

“On behalf of the family of Bassil, I am appealing to this panel to help us enforce the judgment against the police. The judgment was delivered since April 16, 2019 and up till now, we have not heard anything from the police,” Vincent said.

The panel admitted as exhibits hospital documents, including a bill of N1m and a doctor’s report; as well as the judgment of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Counsel for the police, Joseph Ebosereme, sought an adjournment to cross-examine the witness.

The panel adjourned till December 4, 2020.