#EndSARS Protests: Police Deny Throwing Lagos Petitioner From Two-Storey Building

(FILE) Members of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution at a sitting on November 28, 2020.

 

The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for victims of SARS and other related matters on Tuesday listened to the testimony of a police officer, Hamza Aruna who was fingered as being complicit for alleged human rights abuses.A petitioner, 34-year-old trader, Ndukwe Ekekwe had narrated at previous proceedings the harrowing details of how he broke his spine sometime in 2018 when some policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) threw him off a two-storey shopping complex at Alaba Market in the Ojo area of Lagos.

Ekekwe who now uses a wheelchair to move around had specifically identified Sergeant Aruna as the Investigating Police Officer who led the team of officers responsible for his injuries.

The police had disputed this evidence claiming to have a video clip showing that the petitioner jumped and was not pushed.

Though the video evidence could not be played because it was in a format incompatible with the panel’s equipment, the Chairman of the panel has ruled that it should be made available to the petitioner’s counsel. She also said that it will be played at the next adjourned date, December 18.

The panel also listened to the police officer, Hamza Aruna’s version of the events which landed Ekekwe in the wheelchair.

In his testimony, the police officer denied that the petitioner was pushed down from a two-storey building.

He said that Ekekwe was arrested based on intelligence report that he and some others were breaking and entering into other people’s warehouses and shops, with firearms and other dangerous weapons to steal from them. He said the police also discovered that the petitioner was receiving stolen goods.

Haruna who was led in evidence in chief by the Police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor, said that they traced Ekekwe to Alaba market where they successfully arrested him.

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“After the arrest, we took him to our office and obtained Ekekwe’s statement under caution. In his statement, he denied using arms but admitted receiving stolen goods,” he said.

“He told us the goods were in his shop so we went and obtained a search warrant from a magistrate.”

The IPO also said that after they had obtained a search warrant from the Magistrate Court, they took Ekekwe, back to Alaba International market where they discovered that he had two other shops and in the process of getting the shop keys from him, the petitioner jumped off the storey building while being handcuffed.

The officer said he was rushed to the Police College hospital in Ikeja, and then the National Orthopaedic Hospital, and finally Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). At the point of admission, he allegedly confessed to the doctor treating him that it was because he was afraid and didn’t want to tell the police the truth, that’s why he jumped.

Haruna said while Ekekwe was in the hospital, he went to visit him, about four to five times despite threats from the petitioner’s mother that she would throw him down from a storey building.

The case will continue on December 18.