By Ayorinde Oluokun
The hastag, #EndSARS has been trending on the social media in the past 24 hours as Nigerians, especially youths, recall the various atrocities they have suffered in the hands of the officers of the notorious Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS of the Nigeria Police Force.
One of the latest incidents that led to the revival of the rage against the SARS officers was alleged shooting to death of a young man on Saturday by officers of the special police unit originally created to combat armed robbery.
In the incident which led to protests in some parts of the town on Sunday, some social media users alleged that officers of SARS stopped the young man, pushed him out of his vehicle, shoot him and went away with the vehicle.
Some others said the young man died after he was pushed out of his own vehicle.
But through his tweeter handle, Festus Keyamo, the Minister of State for Labour and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who claimed that he was raised in Ughelli clarified what really happened on Sunday afternoon.
Keyamo said he got the facts of the incident after speaking with Delta State Commissioner of Police, Delta State and the Area Commander in Ughelli as well as one Ochuko, who he described as the brother of the victim of the police brutality.
According to the Minister, contrary to the claims in the social media, the victim of the police brutality is alive and receiving treatment.
He backed his claim up with the picture of the alleged victim in the hospital where he is receiving treatment.
Keyamo also said the police outfit involved in this case is Operation Delta Safe and not SARS and that the brother of the victim confirmed that he was not shot, but fell out of the Police vehicle when being taken to the police station after he was arrested.
While Ochuko claimed his brother was pushed him out of the vehicle, the Police said he jumped out on his own, according to the Minister.
But Keyamo added the Police had to abandon the victim after he fell to escape from an angry mob that had already gathered, but a good a good Samaritan picked the victim and took him to hospital.
While condemning extra-judicial killings by SARS and other Police outfits against defenseless citizens and decalring support for calls for comprehensive reforms and overhaul of the police system, the Minister, however appealed to youths in Ughelli not to resort to violence and/or destruction of lives and properties in the display of anger over the incident.
“I am on top of this matter and though the victim is alive, I will be urging the authorities to still investigate the conduct of the Police in this matter,” the Minister said.
See his tweets below:
@fkeyamo 1. I just spoke with both the Commissioner of Police, Delta State & the Area Commander in Ughelli where the unfortunate incident involving a young man & the Police took place yesterday. I also spoke with Ochuko, the victim’s brother. I was born, bred and raised in that same town
@fkeyamo 2) All of them said the victim is alive & receiving treatment. Whilst I totally condemn the extra-judicial killings by SARS & other Police outfits against defenseless citizens and call for comprehensive reforms and overhaul of the system, some facts of this case are as follows:
@fkeyamo 3) (a) The outfit involved in this case is called Operation Delta Safe and not SARS (b) the victim was not shot as confirmed by his brother, but fell out of the Police vehicle when being taken to the station after arrest. The brother said he was pushed; the Police said he jumped·
4) This is a picture of the victim in hospital this morning, showing injuries from the fall (c) the Police stopped to pick him up after the fall, but an angry mob had already gathered and the Police fled and left the victim (d) A Good Samaritan picked him & took him to hospital
Fkeyamo 5. Finally, I wish to appeal to the youths in Ughelli not to resort to violence and/or destruction of lives and properties. I am on top of this matter and though the victim is alive, I will be urging the authorities to still investigate the conduct of the Police in this matter
Festus Keyamo, SAN