By Muhaimin Olowoporoku
Francis Ossajiokweh, a 41-year-old petitioner at the Lagos Judicial Panel narrated how he was arrested, brutalized and falsely paraded as a suspect by the Police.
The petitioner said all of these happened to him last year after he bought a Toyota Auris car from a man, Afeez Asogba.
Mr Ossajiokweh, a driver with flour mills said after he purchased the car, on May 28, 2020, Police officers came to arrest him on August 15, 2020, alleging that he stole the car.
“On August 15, 2020, about 4pm, I was arrested and taken to Olosan Police Station in respect of the car I bought from Mr Afeez Asogba and about 4:30 pm, I was taken to the orderly room where I was asked questions of how I got the car.
He said before he could begin his explanation, one Mr. Taiwo was already beating him. Afterward he was asked again by another CSP, Arogba Phillips how he got the car and he responded that he bought it from Mr Afeez Osogba.
Mr Ossajiokweh said the CSP asked Taiwo to handcuff him and he was told to produce the gun he used to snatch the car.
“He asked Mr Taiwo to handcuff me and that I should produce the gun I used in robbing and snatching the car from the occupant,” he narrated.
He said despite telling the police officers he bought the car and has evidences to show, he was beaten by them.
“He (Mr Philips) beat me to the extent that I could not move, my bone was dislocated. I told him I bought the car and he should investigate. He said blood must come out of my body before he stopped. He beat me for 30 minutes and after then, he put me in the cell.
“He then tendered the receipt of the car, photocopies of the car documents and a copy of the bank transfer he did to Mr Osogba as evidence,” he said.
He narrated that he bought the Toyota Auris car at the rate of N320, 000 because it was in a bad state.
The petitioner said further that he was taken to SARS alongside his mechanic.
He said the OC SARS told him he did well by saying who he bought the car from and was simply detained as investigations went on.
He was bailed on August 17 after his family paid the sum of N255, 000 to the police – N45, 000 was paid for mobilisation to Inspector Mathew James the IPO and another N15, 000, which he said was his personal money for helping me. Then N200, 000 for bail.
He said after his release, he sought for medical attention from traditionalists to treat his fractured hand.
Mr Ossajiokweh said after his treatment, his brother who lives in the US called him telling him that information circulating online portrayed him as a criminal and a hoodlum.
“He said I should type our family name on Google Chrome that I will see it there. Secondly, he said I should check PUNCH newspaper published on the 17th of August, portraying me as a hoodlum and as a criminal.
The petitioner said it was at that instance that he remembered pictures of him where taken alongside his mechanic at Mushin Olosan division.
Mr Ossajiokweh said the DCO took about four pictures, telling himself and his mechanic to stay closer to the vehicle because the DPO said the earlier pictures were not clear.
He said friends ran away from him and he went through a lot of pains seeing stories that he was an armed robber.
The petitioner prayed the panel that he wants an apology letter from the police and also the letter should be published in PUNCH newspaper where he was portrayed an armed robber.
Mr Ossajiokweh also demanded justice, compensation, and that disciplinary action be taken against DSP Phillips Arogba, to serve as a deterrent to others.
Upon cross examination by Police Counsel, Joseph Eboseremen, the counsel for the police, asked the petitioner how he met Afeez Asogba, whom he purchased the vehicle from.
He responded, saying that he knew Mr Afeez through a friend, Mr. Balogun.
“I met Mr Afeez at his workshop where he worked as a car mechanic,” Mr Ossajiokweh responded.
“By the time you bought the car from Mr Afeez, you went through the particulars, is that not correct? The particulars that Afeez gave, the name there was not Afeez Asogba. Did you ask for the person whose name is on the car?,” Mr Eboseremen asked.
The petitioner said he asked the seller – Mr Asogba, and the answer he gave was that he bought it from an Army officer.
Mr Eboseremen, the police counsel also asked whether the petitioner witnessed the payment of N255, 000 by his family members to the police.
“I was there, they brought me from the cell to the office when my family came to bail me. In their office, they had a camera, they went to the back and started counting the money. I was there when they counted the money,” Mr Ossajiokweh said.
Joseph Eboseremen prayed the panel for an adjournment to allow them gather more fact.
Justice Doris adjourned the case until February 2 for further hearing.