This is becoming too much for comfort. Lagos lawyer Fatai Adeyemi Abijo in this narrative to DNL Legal & Style shares how he was beaten up and handcuffed by Men of the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Taskforce at Oshodi, Lagos State.
My names: Fatai Adeyemi ABIJO.
It was about 10.40am in the morning of Tuesday, 30th of January, 2018 whilst in the vehicle in the company of my colleague in Chambers, Babatunde Lana, ESQ. who was the one driving the car in which we were, heading to Area D, Police Command in Mushin for a Client’s matter.
Just about getting to Oshodi after Bolade Bus stop, we noticed a man trashing his waste into the road openly from his car & driving on. We were surprised that despite the campaign against same people can still remain in this very bad habit. I asked my colleague to move close to the car in question after which I told the man that what he did was wrong and that he should have left the waste in his vehicle instead of throwing out of the car. He immediately apologized & it was obvious he was embarrassed at his own action.
Just as we moved on, the man look towards our car and waived back that he was sorry once again but immediately he did that I noticed that a task force Hilux vehicle was approaching the man’s vehicle from the passenger side and beckoning at him for what we didn’t know and the Hilux driver swiftly drove ahead of him and blocked his vehicle from moving ahead. This attracted our attention as I sought my colleague to park very well so I could let them know that I was the one conversing with the man and the reason for this, only for me to find that the Team head of the Task force men in the Hilux named Aliyu Bala was already attacking the man with a big tick rod whilst the man was still behind the steering. I walked towards them but before I got close enough the said Aliyu Bala, a Superintendent of Police I later learnt he is, had moved to the driver’s side of the vehicle and the first attack again was a heavy punch on the jaw of the driver. The driver also pushed him back in annoyance asking what he did wrong for him to have been beaten with the rod at first and also being hit with the heavy blow whilst holding on to his mouth obviously wondering what had come over this man in uniform.
The said Supol Aliyu did not stop at that. He continued to hit the man with the rod whilst the other man pushed him in return and dragged the big rod from him too. I intervened by asking Supol Aliyu not to hit the man any longer because he was in uniform and I also was telling the other man to stop pushing and be calm about it alI. I let him know immediately that I came off my car to protect him against being cheated so, he should just hold on for me to talk to Supol Aliyu. Only to hear Supol Aliyu calling for reinforcement through one of the LASTMA officials who came around but did not seem to heed the request.
Suddenly, some men appeared at the scene descending heavily on the said driver. Thereafter, to my dismay I sought the audience of Supol Aliyu who was not ready to listen to me any longer and within a few seconds, what I got was a very heavy slap on my neck, face and cheek. Whilst still trying to get myself together, the very big black rod used by the Supol on the other man landed on my right leg severally with continued beatings all over my body. I was thereafter pushed alongside the other man to the chargrin of my colleague who was asking them to leave me alone but I was able to mumble to him to stay away so the mob don’t go after him and the car, since the environment was charged enough for anybody to take advantage of the situation. One of the men at the scene who is believed to be a Police man pointed a pistle at the man for whom I intervened, who later turned out to be a Police man too.
It didnt stop at the above. The men pushed me alongside the man earlier beaten up into a faragon commuter bus wherein they HANDCUFFED me and the man together and drove straight to the TASK FORCE office at Bolade Oshodi(ARENA) hitting us continuously in the bus to the extent that my eye glasses fell off & I couldn’t locate it again. We were taken out of the bus and asked to sit on the floor with some others (in the glare of the public) not less than forty (40) in number and were already stripped of their dresses leaving their knickers on, but before we could sit, the other man was taken on by one Inspector of Police (as was referred to) who continued the beating until a particular superior officer came around to ask that we be brought into a particular office. In that office was another more superior officer who sought to here our stories. At this point, the handcuffs had been taken off upon my demand after I had introduced myself as a Legal Practitioner and nothing should have warranted being HANDCUFFED. At this point, the officers who also were very cautious in handling the issues told me to let them deal with the issue of both Policemen in-house but pleaded with me to forgive. I then sought that if they could please apprehend their men numbering five or more who assaulted and handcuffed me, that I may then forgive them. I also asked that my lost pair of eye glasses that may be in the bus should also be fetched. They wanted me to be treated in their medical facility but I didn’t accede to the entreaty.
For the fact that I wanted their men who assaulted me under the directive of Supol Aliyu to be fished out first, before I could leave to attend to my health, the issues were escalated to the Chairman of the Task force in the person of SP. Olayinka Egbeyemi who tried to pacify me by pronouncing that the Supol be demoted from his present duty post. However, as much as SP. Egbeyemi had tried his very best to trash out the issues placed before him, he did not agree with me that the men who assaulted me were all Policemen but it should be noted that none Policemen could have HANDCUFFED me and taken to their office straight from the scene of the incident.
My pair of eye glasses was fetched and handed to me whilst with the Task force Chairman but these men who assaulted me were not produced as sought by me. The Task force Chairman didn’t fail to advise me, according to him, to take the Supol Aliyu up should I intend to go to Court but I made it clear that Supol Aliyu may not be sued alone since he and his alleged cohorts were in the service of the Taskforce(Police) and under the Government of Lagos State, that are one of same.
One wonders what would have been my lot but for the fact that I am a Lawyer. And the unlawful practices going on in the Taskforce office leaves much to be desired. The Governor under whom they act may not know and his attention should be called without delay.
The onslaught on Lawyers in recent time is also a matter that call for serious concern. We must act in defence of not only our colleagues and the profession but the defenceless general populace who are being maltreated daily by the officers and officials of the Task force. Injustice to one is injustice to all anywhere.
I have also reported this to my Branch Chairman, Mr Adesina Ogunlana. We should give update as May be necessary.
I thereafter visited the hospital to be examined and drugs administered. I should report back to the hospital for check up again.