A petitioner, Nnaemeka Orjiakor has demanded a compensation of N10 million from the police for alleged arbitrary arrest, detention and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in 2019.
Orjiakor made this demand on Wednesday at the Independent Investigative Panel on human rights violations by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units in Abuja.
He pleaded with the panel to order N10m compensation in his favour, alleging that SARS officers led by one Mohammed Elbow Awal arrested him on the 8th February 2019 from his shop, handcuffed him, paraded him around Wuse market before bundling him into their vehicle, and took him to the SARS office in Area 3, Garki where he was beaten and detained for six days before he was released.
Nnaemeka, also during his narration before the panel presided over by Dr. Garba Tetengi, who stood in for the Chairman, Justice Suleiman Galadima(rtd), said that in 2006 he rented a shop from a lady in Wuse market, but when he wasn’t making enough sales had to sublet part of the shop to a third party so that he can make enough to pay the rent on the shop and boost his business.
He added that unknown to him, when the rent on the shop expired the third party in the lease contract went behind his back and paid the rent in full so as to be the sole occupant of the shop and further invited the police that he (Nnaemeka) was an illegal occupant of the shop.
Continuing in his narration, he said with the intervention of the police the matter was taken to court where trial had commenced, only for SARS personnel to arrest him on the morning of 24th December 2018 on the allegation that the owner of the shop is claiming that he wanted to sell the shop, and he was subsequently taken away but for the intervention of his wife who got a lawyer to get him reprieve.
He said it was the intervention of the lawyer who called the police and informed them the matter was still in court that got him released.
He said during another arrest on the 8th February 2022 that he was subjected to torture and degrading treatment.
The matter was adjourned to 22nd March for the continuation of hearing and defence.
In another development, the panel has ordered police to release all properties seized from officer of Nigerian merchant navy coast guard, while police alleges that the above-named organisation has no law to operate.
The Independent Investigative Panel on human rights violations by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units in Abuja, on Tuesday, ordered the Nigeria Police to release all 21 items including 4 Mistubishi L300 bus, two speed boats, passports, and other valuable documents of Commodore Allen Edema of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Coast Guard they seized.
The panel gave this order following the plea of Commodore Allen Edema that the police allegedly asked him to pay N600,000 before his properties will be released to him.
At the first hearing of the petition, Edema alleged that in 2008 the Nigeria Navy in a joint operation with the police, invaded his head office, arrested him, and seized his properties in Lagos. Since his release, the police has refused to hand over his properties to him despite orders from the court.
Under cross-examination, one of the respondents DSP Azuka Oboni who was led by Fidelis Ogwobe informed the panel that in 2008, officers of the Nigerian Navy arrested Commodore Edema and seven others and were brought to the FCT Command.
The Nigerian Navy alleged that Commodore Edema and others were impersonating the Nigerian Navy and also wearing their uniform, tempering with Naval activities at waterways and having illegal possession of naval equipment.
DSP Azuka also stated he was the IPO assigned to investigate the allegations. He wrote to the National Assembly to inquire about the operations of the organizations. From their response it was discovered that there was no law backing their existence, meaning the Nigerian Merchant Navy Coast Guard was operating illegally.
Thereafter, they were charged to court without bail being granted. DSP Azuka disclosed to the panel that Commodore Edema jumped bail by not showing up at the court for more than three times.
Under cross-examination, Counsel to the Police, Fidelis Ogwobe, asked Lawrence Ibiam and Chika Okereke, both lieutenants and members of the organisation ,if they were aware that the organisation was operating illegally.
Chika answered in the affirmative that the organisation has been proscribed this led to the closing of the head office in Lagos and invasion of the training school in Idah. On 28th April 2014, a joint task force of the Police, Navy, Army, and Civil Defence invaded the Nigerian Merchant Navy Coast Guard training center in Idah, Kogi State, and killed 11 persons during the invasion of the training center.
While Lawrence Ibiam disclosed that he joined the organisation in 2006 and he has been working without receiving salary. On further probe by the panel on how he survives he disclosed that he works as a security man at Watchman church.
Earlier, Fidelis Ogwobe had asked Commodore Edema to state which law or act mandates the organisation to operate. In which he responded that there is a bill before the house in regards to the establishment of the office.
The matter has been adjourned to 22nd March 2022. In the meantime Counsel to both parties have three days each to file their written addresses.