A newly married man has alleged that some policemen wearing branded uniforms of the notorious unit of the Nigeria Police Force, which was disbanded last year after #EndSARS protests, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), extorted him and his apprentice.
He alleged that this could mean SARS has been revived in Akwa Ibom State.
File photo used to illustrate story.
SARS was notorious for brutality, extrajudicial killings, and human rights abuses.
Former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on October 11, 2020 announced the disbandment of the police unit following nationwide protests over its brutality.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, the man lamented the alleged extortion of N25,000 from him and his apprentice by operatives wearing SARS uniforms at the Area Command in Ikot Ekpene.
He said he was handcuffed by the policemen like a criminal while his house was searched.
The service engineer identified the leader of the team who assaulted and extorted him as Bassey Nyong.
“That day was a Monday and it happened to be the week of my wedding which was scheduled for 11th of December. I went out to get a bag of sachet water at a supermarket just by the major road (Aba Road) around my area called Kevino White junction. I was just standing close to the supermarket with one of my boys who is my apprentice and also a student at a polytechnic here. We were discussing on how the wedding was going to be, what and what has been achieved so far. While we were discussing, a friend of his who also wants to learn my trade, which is sales and servicing of printers because I’m a service engineer, walked down to us to also pick something at the same supermarket,” he told SaharaReporters.
“While we were standing, these guys of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad here at the Area Command in Ikot Ekpene drove by on their motorbikes and immediately turned their bikes and surrounded us. Already the last guy that walked to us only greeted us and moved to the supermarket to get what he wanted to get and I asked him to get a bag of sachet water for me while I was still discussing with my boy. Immediately these guys surrounded us, the first person in the name of Bulus or something of that jumped down and walked down to us and started asking for our phones.
“I was standing a little away from him, he asked I come close to him and give him my phone while at the same time he was dragging my boy by his clothes closer to himself and asking for his phone. On seeing that, I revolted by asking why would he just come and start asking for our phones and he should calm down and leave the boy alone. While I was on that, the others had surrounded us and two of them were standing by my right-hand side and one of them called Mark started asking I should bring out my phone from my pocket and give to them else he will slap me. I asked him what did he say? He asked maybe I think he was joking with me that he will slap me.
“I asked him again if he knows whom he was talking to, like that was a joke, he slapped me and I asked him how dare he slap me and he went on slapping me. While on that, the first man by the name of Bulus had already put his hands in my pocket and removed my phones and put them in his own pocket. The leader of that team by the name Bassey Nyong asked them to put handcuffs on me. Like a joke, I was handcuffed alongside with my boy. I walked down to the leader of the team whom I know and was telling him he has the guts to handcuff me and harass me over nothing and that I will not take it lightly on them I must make sure the case is taken up, he also slapped me countless times and said he was going to keep slapping me and there is nothing I can do and that I was only making a noise.
“While on that and looking around for anyone with a phone to record the incident, he had called the head of their unit whose name I don’t really know but I know him by face very well. We were there when other members of the unit including the head of their unit came in his Honda EOD and some others on motorbikes and I was asked to take them to my house. These guys took me to where my car was parked, forced me to enter my car and one of them whom I also don’t know his name but know his face, drove me in my car while the others followed in their cars and bikes to my house. My wife was in the parlor with a friend when I was brought into my house in handcuffs like a criminal and these men went on to search my house and even asked my wife to unlock her phone for them to search.
“After searching my house all they saw was a white piece of paper in my friend’s younger brother’s pocket bag and his broken ATM Card which he forgot in my house two Saturdays ago when he came to help out in taking the items I had bought to my in-law’s because that day was my Introduction. They took the bag and drove us to the station where the Bassey Nyong took his time to search my phones and on seeing nothing in my phone, he granted me bail by collecting the sum of N10,000 from my wife and my godparents that came to the station immediately they heard of the incident.
“While the other boys I was arrested with were not freed. Later on that day, after I got home and refreshed I went back to the station to see the DPO in person of Benjamin Joshua. While I was waiting for him, I was told these men asked my boys to provide the sum of N150,000 for their bail, which these boys said they didn’t have and for what reason. Though later on that same day in the evening, they were released on the order of the DPO because I told him everything and he asked them to release the boys immediately and for free. But then, this Bassey Nyong still went on to collect the sum of N15, 000 from them as bail.
“So, this team of police Special Anti-Robbery Squad has been terrorising young men in this local government area. They have been arresting and beating up young men and extorting money from them. Even on that day, the Mark guy who first slapped me threatened to shoot me if I talked too much and that nothing would happen. I’m not a criminal, I have never been involved in any unlawful act and I had never been arrested before for any crime or whatsoever. I have always minded my business and worked hard as a young man. So, having this kind of unlawful and life threatening act from members of the police who are supposed to be protecting me, my life, my property and family, is sad. They are the ones even acting like the criminals and armed robbers.”
When contacted, spokesperson for the police command in Akwa Ibom, Odiko Macdon said the disbanded unit hasn’t been reinstated in the state, adding that the command will investigate the incident.
He said, “We don’t have SARS, there is nothing like SARS again in this country. We don’t have anything like that in this command. Let me assure you of the command’s readiness to investigate this allegation, but anything about SARS doesn’t exist in this state or any part of the country.
“So we as a command, we don’t have any outfit as SARS, however we have other units who are in the business of fighting crime. The Commissioner of Police in the state doesn’t tolerate corruption in any guise, please give the person my number. We’ll ensure justice is done.”
SaharaReporters, New York