Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Nine Lagos Policemen Dismissed Over Journalist’s Torture

femi

There was drama at the office of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, on Wednesday as a tortured journalist, Femi Owolabi, met with nine policemen who had gone to raid a street in FESTAC Town during which he (Owolabi) and about 30 others were allegedly abducted and tortured.

Our correspondent learnt that the CP had directed that the policemen, who had been in custody since Tuesday, should face an orderly room trial, which could thereafter lead to their dismissal.

It was gathered that Owoseni also directed that the houses of the suspects be searched for money and property collected from the victims.

PUNCH Metro had reported on Monday that ‘raider’ policemen attached to the Anti-Robbery Section of the State Department of Criminal Investigations, Yaba, stormed FESTAC Town, and arrested about 30 persons including Owolabi who had gone to relax at the Rapongi night club.

Owolabi, who regained his freedom after several hours of torture, had been injured in the neck.

It had been reported that the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, directed the Lagos CP to conduct an investigation into the matter, and submit a report to the command headquarters in 48 hours.

Our correspondent had reported that five policemen attached to the SDCI were locked up in a cell on Tuesday, while Owolabi was asked to meet with the CP on Wednesday to assist the police with investigations.

Our correspondent, who was briefed on the outcome of the meeting, learnt that nine policemen had been put in the cell, and would face an orderly room trial to determine whether they would be dismissed.

It was also revealed at the meeting that the policemen submitted 14 names as the persons raided as against the 30 reported.

Speaking with PUNCH Metro after the two-hour meeting, the journalist said the policemen told the CP that they went on a raid, but they did not beat up anyone.

He said, “Nine of the policemen were brought into the CP’s office and packed in one corner. They had been in the cell since Tuesday according to the Officer in Charge of the Anti-robbery section in SDCI. Some of the policemen were even crying.

“The CP asked me to identify them, and I could recall the faces of all of them. One Assistant Superintendent of Police was their team leader. He was in the office too. The CP asked them if they raided the FESTAC Town area on the fateful day and they said yes. He asked them if they beat up anybody during the raid, they said no.

“That was how the CP got angry. He told them that in his long years of service in the police, he had not seen where anti-robbery policemen went on an illegal raid, and not beat up anybody. So, he debunked their lie.”

Owolabi said the CP thereafter ordered the policemen to be taken away for an orderly room trial, while their houses would also be searched.

He said, “The commissioner ordered that all of them be returned to the cell, while they should be tried in an orderly room trial. He also asked me to find the Federal Government worker, who had also been dragged to the ATM by the policemen.

“As regards my necklace and money, the commissioner said he would compensate me.

“When we were done with the meeting, the command promised to get back to me. The CP directed that the houses of those policemen be searched for property and money taken from victims. He ordered the OC of the Anti-Robbery Section to file in the report.”

Our correspondent learnt that if anything was found against the policemen, they would be dismissed from the force.

When contacted on the meeting, the CP told our correspondent that the police would not make the outcome public so as not to jeopardise their investigation.

He said, “I will not let you into any discussion. If I do, it will jeopardise my investigation. Let me conclude my investigation first. The journalist is your friend; you can talk to him.”

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