Some businessmen in the Ikeja area of Lagos State have alleged that operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad allegedly tortured and extorted money from them for what they knew nothing about.
The three men claimed that they were illegally detained for days during which they were brutalised.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the businessmen, who had separate encounters with F-SARS operatives from the Lagos and Ogun commands, were going about their business when they were accosted by the policemen.
The operatives allegedly took suspected criminals to their offices, who accused them of buying stolen phones from him.
One of the victims, Chris Amaru, who claimed that he was arrested by F-SARS operatives from the Lagos State Police Command, alleged that he was almost killed.
He said, “I was at my office when the F-SARS came and dragged me into their jeep. One of them asked a tattered looking person who was handcuffed if I was the guy that he sold iPhone and Infinix phones to and he said yes. I was shocked.
“I told them that I did not know the man from anywhere, but the officers drove off to the police command. One of them said I would confess after they took me into the ‘theatre.’
“Inside the theatre, which is a room, they slapped me many times and asked me to lie down. They beat me up with a rubber pipe. They asked if I knew the tattered guy and I kept saying no. One Inspector Oro really dealt with me, but it was Inspector Akuku that ordered the officers to tie and hang me. They put a steel pipe between my tied hands and legs and they hanged me.
“Later, the officers loaded a cylinder filled with gas on my back. My hands and legs were filled with pains. They put four brake discs around my neck. At this point, the pain became unbearable. I didn’t know when I owned to a crime I never committed.”
The Anambra State indigene said immediately he admitted to the crime, the officers allegedly recorded him and asked him to confess to the crime in the presence of the then Officer-in-Charge of SARS, CSP Sanusi Mohammed.
“After what they did to me, I had to admit the crime in the presence of their OC and he said they should release me once I get the phones back. I called and gave the specifications of the phones to my colleague so that he can get them to secure my release that Friday. Despite bringing the phones, they locked me up. I was in the cell from Friday till Monday,” he added.
The 31-year-old, who said he survived only on water, added that suspects in the cell confirmed to him that his arrest was a set-up.
“I was released on Monday after paying N100,000 for bail. Two weeks after the incident, I went back to see the OC of SARS to clear my name, and with his help, I was able to recover the phones my colleague gave the officers. But I have yet to get my money back. I recognise all the officers if I see them,” he said.
PUNCH Metro also learnt that F-SARS operatives from the Ogun State Police Command allegedly arrested another set of businessmen in a similar fashion in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.
A victim, Christain Okorie, said he stood at night for four days inside the F-SARS cell at Magbon Police Station, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The 20-year-old said, “I was inside my shop when two armed SARS men entered and ordered everyone to stand. The officers, while pointing at me, asked one handcuffed guy if I was the one, and he said yes. They handcuffed me and took me to FSARS in Abeokuta.
“I did not know the guy, but he said he sold phones to me. They locked me up for four days for what I did not do; it was on the fifth day that they allowed my boss to bail me.”
Okorie’s boss, Chimwanya Offia, 32, said, he was at the station to secure the bail of his nephew when the operatives allegedly arrested him.
Offia, who said he was a dealer in phone accessories, said his shop was not the only one raided by the officers.
The Ebonyi State indigene said, “I was told that the operatives came from Abeokuta. So, because I had nothing to fear, I went to the station to know why they arrested him.
“When I got there and I introduced myself as Okorie’s boss, they detained me immediately. I could not stay there because of health challenges and they told me to bail myself with N200,000. I later paid N30,000, and they told me to come the following day for my nephew.
“Okorie spent about four days inside the cell before they accepted the amount I offered for his bail. They demanded N1m; but I eventually bailed him with N100,000,” he added.
Another victim, Okolo Daniel, 38, who was a laptop repairer, said it took the intervention of his brother who was a policeman before he was released.
“Everyone knows I don’t do buying and selling; I only repair laptops. When the officers realised that I was a laptop repairer, they made the criminal to say he sold a laptop to me. It took the intervention of my brother, who is a policeman, before I was released after paying N40,000, for what I did not do,” he said.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, asked the businessman to petition the police authorities for proper investigation.
He said, “What the man has said is an allegation. It will be most appropriate if he can make his complaint in writing and forward same to the police authorities so that investigation can be conducted for the truth behind it to be unravelled.”
The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the men detained by FSARS in Ogun were released on bail after they pleaded that they were innocent buyers of the stolen products.
He said, “The complainants are being economical with the truth. There was a robbery in the Agbado area of Ogun State. The community members apprehended one of the robbers and they handed him over to the police. Investigation led to the arrest of other members of the syndicates. It was the arrested robbers that said some of the items they stole were sold to the complainants.
“The robber took the police to their places to arrest them. But because of the intervention of some people and the fact that they pleaded that they were innocent buyers, they were released on bail.”
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.