The reign of extortion and intimidation of residents especially students living within the Polytechnic community may have taken an alarming dimension as multiple allegations indicate that the police formation in the area sometimes engage in arbitrary arrest and detention of youths and students in the area without regard to rights and due process.
A student of one of the off-campus student lodges, Benny Udogu narrated his ordeal in the hands of the rampaging policemen recently when he told our correspondent how he was bundled into police detention for allegedly owning two Facebook accounts.
The security man in the lodge was also arrested and handcuffed for daring to question the arrest of the student.
A third occupant of the lodge, Chukwuka Ubani was also thrown into the police bus in handcuffs for refusing to unlock his mobile phone for the policemen, after he was beaten black and blue.
Narrating his ordeal, Udogu said: “The incident happened around 8:15pm on that fateful day. I returned from MCC road and due to the heat, I decided to relax outside in the balcony (1st floor, upstairs) of our lodge and get some fresh air while listening to music on my phone.
“Not too long after, an armed man on mufti approached me from behind and due to the brightness of his torch light I was unable to see his face, but his cap had the Nigerian police logo on it.
“So he asked me what I was doing sitting in the balcony, he also asked if I lived in the lodge and I told him I lived in the lodge, that I just returned from town and decided to chill outside a little.
“He demanded for my phone which I gave him. He accessed my phone and gave it back to me and before I could say thank you, another man on mufti who wore Police bulletproof vest approached me and asked same question and I answered, he collected my phone and ordered that I take him to my room and I took him to my room and three more police men followed me making them a total of 4 policemen.
“They searched my room and found nothing; one of them requested that I unlock my phone which I did. He accessed my phone again and asked me why I have two Facebook accounts, I told him that a friend used my phone to check his account so he logged into my account, log out and tried to log into the second account and discovered that it’s not in use (showing error message), so he called me a fraudster. And they immediately bundled me downstairs into their bus and drove me to their station (Ihiagwa Police Station) where they dumped me in cell. They were deaf to all my pleas and explanations and did not let me write a statement before they locked me up in their cell.
“I was detained till the next day when I was allowed to write my statement at about 11am. That was also when I was allowed to make a call to whoever would come and bail me. However, I was unconditionally released after the intervention of my elder brother through the Divisional Crime officer.
Another student, Peter Ogbunka confided in our correspondent that he was arrested and detained for about a week in the same station because some policemen said his mouth smelled like that of one who smoked Indian Hemp.
Said he, “I was on my way back home and these policemen flagged down and stopped the motorbike (Okada) I was on. They searched me and found nothing. One of them leaned closer and said my mouth smelt of Indian Hemp and that was how I was detained for more than a week for no just cause.”
Ogbunka who noted that an asthmatic student, which he said were many on campus, would not last 20 minutes in the cell he was detained as ‘it was totally unhygienic and beyond inhuman to hold any person there’.
The students called on the Police high command to put some supervisory mechanism in place to check the rampant excesses of these policemen ‘who play god with human lives’ in the Nekede Polytechnic area.