Four policemen attached to the Lagos State command of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), have been accused of torturing a Balogun Market trader, Karamat Eleha, over an alleged stolen iPad.
According to reports by Punch, the iPad was said to have been the property of a woman living in Ajah axis who was robbed in May, 2015.
The policemen, led by one Abiola, while in the search for the device, stormed the two storey building where Eleha lives with her mother but that the trader was out when the policemen came to search.
The policemen were alleged to have searched all residents apartments but came up empty. The trader who had gone for fellowship around her neighbourhood arrived at that point and was asked about the missing iPad.
Eleha said, “Around 10.20pm on May 14, I just returned home from a fellowship when the policemen asked me about a missing iPad and I told them I knew nothing about it. They checked my bag, but nothing was found there.”
The police, according to the trader, insisted that the device was within the compound since they were getting signals from a tracker attached to the iPad. On further search, they discovered an office in the compound they had earlier missed but couldn’t gain entry because it was locked.
She then went on to help collect the keys from the pastor whose office it was from a nearby street called Ojo Giwa Street but on getting back, was shocked to find the police insisting that the device was around the street she had just passed through. “On getting back, they said their tracker showed that the iPad was around the streets I passed through to the pastor’s house,” she said.
In continuing her tale, the trader told of how the police took her to their command and stripped her naked; She said, “They took me to a room which they called ‘theatre’. They stripped me naked and tortured me for hours. When the pain became unbearable, it occurred to me that I saw a neighbour, Mr. Goriola (Baba Ibeji), giving an iPad to his wife while I was going out in the morning on the fateful day. I told them and they went to arrest the wife that same night. The following day, Baba Ibeji was arrested.
“When they realised that I was bleeding, they took me to a nurse, who charged them N3,000. They later gave the nurse N1,000 to treat me.”
Eleha’s saving grace came in the form of a kind neighbour who had secured her release by sending a text message to the Commissioner of Police of Lagos State, Kayode Aderanti, two days after the incident happened on May 14, 2015.
Sharing his side of the story, the resident who chose to remain anonymous termed the actions of the police as appalling.
He said, “They stormed our compound like night marauders. They said they were from SARS. They were led by one Abiola, popularly called Abbey. They said they were looking for an iPad and that a tracker indicated it was within our building. They wanted to break into the office downstairs, but I cautioned them to wait till daybreak for the occupants to come. We were on it when Eleha returned from the fellowship.
“I told Karamat to go and get the key from the occupant. When she came back, they said the tracker had suddenly indicated the iPad was no longer within the building; that it was going towards Princess and Alkatama streets, where Karamat passed through to collect the key. Even after Baba Ibeji was arrested, they refused to release her. That was why I sent a text message to the commissioner.”
The trader’s mother identified simply as Islamiyat, revealed that when Mr. Abba Kyari, a former officer in charge of SARS, saw Eleha’s legs, he was shocked and ordered her immediate release.
She said, “Her legs were fractured. That Saturday, it was an officer called Abba Kyari, who ordered them (the cops) to release her immediately. He shouted when he saw the wounds. From there, we took her to a clinic in our area and she was given injections and drugs. When her condition did not improve, we went to the Lagos Island Health Centre. On June 2, I took her to a ‘bone centre’ but I could only afford the bill for treating her left leg.
“I want her to be treated by the police.”
Speaking on the issue, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, the Lagos State Police spokesperson, exonerated the policemen from any acts of brutality stating that she was merely invited to the station for questioning.
He said, “An iPad was stolen and was traced to her compound. It was observed that the iPad was on the streets she (Eleha) passed through and she was invited to the station.
“There was no issue of torture. I don’t know what torture she is talking about.”