A Portharcout-based car dealer, Emmanuel Okorodudu, has approached the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Inquiry over the brutality meted to him by officers of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Mr Okorodudu, 37, while testifying before the panel on Tuesday, said he encountered the officers on May 5, 2015.

The petitioner narrated that the officers arrested him in Delta State and brought him to SARS office, Ikeja, Lagos, where he was detained for three weeks for allegedly stealing cars.

The petitioner said five vehicles were seized from him by the police, including two, which he already sold to customers and were taken back from them.

“I am a car dealer, I sell different types of vehicles in Port Harcourt and I buy most of the cars from Lagos because they are cheaper there. Some are shipped in from outside the country and I have all the papers.

Mr Okorodudu said the last car he purchased from Lagos was delivered to him in Portharcourt by one Dele Olubiyi.

“One day, Dele called me that the car he delivered to me, he has a buyer for it. I said from Lagos? And told him that car is cheaper in Lagos than in Port Harcourt.

“Dele said the person has cash and is serious about buying the car, because I told him I have a buyer already who has picked interest in the car,” the petitioner said.

Mr Okorodudu further narrated that himself and Mr Olubiyi, the driver, made an arrangement for him to bring the buyer to Port Harcourt to buy the car.

“He travelled down the next day and I explained that I was going to Delta State. He said they would come to Delta to meet me and I gave them an address, which was an open space.”

Arrest and detention

The petitioner said when Mr Olubiyi arrived at the address, there was no other occupant at the front of the vehicle he drove but he was surprised to see someone jump out of the boot of the car.

“I was surprised and said Dele, you told me someone was coming to buy the car, why is the person coming down from the boot? Before I knew it, the person started beating me, other officers came around, they beat me, hit me with their gun, handcuffed me and threw me inside their vehicle.

He said one of the officers, Mr Ogedengbe, collected the valuables on him before he was taken to Abraka Police Station, where he was detained for five days. He was thereafter transported to SARS office, Ikeja, where he spent another three weeks.

The petitioner also identified one Simon Nathaniel, a superintendent of police, as one of the officers involved in his arrest and detention.

While at detention, Mr Okorodudu said the police officers interrogated him on who he sold vehicles to, the location of his mart and other questions about his business.

The petitioner said five vehicles were seized from him by the police, including two, which he already sold to customers and were taken back from them.

Up till the time he appeared before the panel, Mr Okorodudu said the vehicles are yet to be returned despite that he was not found guilty of stealing cars by a competent court.

Mr Okorodudu said the case against him was struck out at the magistrate court following the police refusal to follow up the case.

“After then, I applied for the release of my cars, almost two years later but the magistrate told me to start my life afresh.”

The petitioner presented documents of the vehicles to the panel, they were admitted as exhibits.

Reliefs

Listing the reliefs he seeks from the panel, the petitioner said the panel should investigate the officers for his unlawful arrest and detention and bring them to book.

“I also want them to return the seized vehicles. I have spent so much since the trouble started. I also want the panel to compensate me for the trauma I suffered,” he said.

Meanwhile, the petitioner said after he saw one of his seized cars at a bar in Abraka and when he waited to see who drove it, it turned out to be Simon Nathaniel, one of the officers who arrested him.

“After some time, I also saw Ogedengbe, another officer with another of my vehicles,” he told the panel.

Doris Okuwobi, the panel chair, issued summons for the named officers to appear before the panel.

The matter was adjourned till June 8.

Source

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