Up until the evening of Wednesday, November 15, 2017, perhaps all that Mr. Olugbenga Adekoya had seen about the brutality and cruelty of some Nigerian policemen against innocent citizens were the ones he read in the papers or the ones he saw on the television.
But that evening, Adekoya, an entrepreneur who preferred to be called a carpenter, almost lost his life with the way he was thoroughly dealt with by some policemen allegedly guarding Julian Osula, a businessman who deals in selling luxury items, like wristwatches.
Adekoya’s wife, Oluremi, who narrated the incident to a Punch correspondent on Friday, sounded deeply troubled on the telephone, saying it was only by the grace of God that her darling husband was still alive.
According to her, Adekoya had left Abeokuta for Lagos with his driver. It was a smooth journey, and by the time they got to Jakande area of Lekki, where his driver lives, he released his driver to go home and drove himself.
On getting to the second toll plaza in Lekki, which was just a few kilometres away from his home, he had just entered one of the tollbooths when one of the police escort vehicles guarding Osula, in a bid to be at the same pace with their boss tried to push him off the road.
That was likely the last thing Adekoya remembered, because as he drove pass the barrier, other escort vehicles and the Mercedes Benz G Wagon that Osula (with customised number plates) was driving in, suddenly blocked his Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle and gave him a beating of his life for not giving way.
Oluremi said, “My husband said they got to the different tollbooths at the same time but that usually, since escort vehicles put the main vehicle conveying their boss in the middle, they split when they get to the booth. My husband was on one side while they were on the other side.
“The person they were guiding already entered one of the tollbooths. One escort vehicle entered the next tollbooth, while the second one wanted to enter the next tollbooth where my husband already entered. He was waiting for the barrier to clear the way, but apparently out of the zeal to make sure they were at same pace with their boss, they started shouting ‘Land Cruiser, move out of the way, move out of the way, clear the way for our chairman.’
“There was nowhere for him to move to than to pass so they could also pass. But by the time he was driving through the barrier, the other escort vehicle swerved to my husband’s lane and blocked his vehicle, while the G Wagon that Osula was in waited beside them.”
Whilst trying to understand what was happening, three armed policemen were said to have jumped down from the escort vehicles and surrounded Adekoya’s vehicle.
Oluremi said, “One of the policemen stood in front of his vehicle, pointing a gun at him. One stood by the left side while another one stood on the right side. Before he knew it, they opened his door and hit him on the shoulder with the butt of the gun. They hit him thoroughly until they were satisfied.
“As if that was not enough, they sprayed some sort of chemicals in his eyes. That was the last thing he saw. Of course they drove off. It was some onlookers who saw it happen that rushed to where he was and tried to rescue him. He was able to remember the house address and then one of them drove him home.”
“I was terrified seeing my husband struggling to open his eyes. When my children came out and saw their dad, they started crying. We all couldn’t believe what we were seeing. They love their dad so much. I had to appeal to them and assure them that he would be fine.”
After being able to calm the children down, Oluremi said she drove to the Zone 2 police station in Onikan, but they were told to come back the following day.
On their way back, she said she took him to a hospital, where he was attended to.
The following day, she said she eventually filed a petition against Osula with the Zone 2 police station.
Oluremi, who also shared her husband’s experience on her Instagram page, said her husband would sue Osula, whom she accused of making it a habit of harassing people with his police security detail.
She said, “Definitely, my husband would sue Osula. The lawyers are already doing their work. Osula saw everything and his silence when they were attacking my husband implied that he endorsed it. So, we would sue him. What if one of them had shot him? God forbid! I’ve been trying to replay the whole thing in my mind and I tell you that it’s traumatising. My children and I are deeply traumatised.
“This would mark the end of an anomaly. He believes he is untouchable, and we are ready to fight this and get justice. We shall not relent. Why would a civilian not holding any kind of public office be going around with such a number of mobile policemen?”
She said in the face of inadequate policemen in the system, “someone, all in the name of selling luxury goods, commands loads (of policemen) to follow him about.
“He (Osula) is fond of doing that. He moves around in convoy, which is not a problem; but the policemen attached to him harass people,” she also alleged.
She said her husband had travelled out of the country when his health improved a little. She however said that he had been instructed by his ophthalmologist to still report for check-up.
“I have heard of gross injustice but this incident confirmed the injustice meted out to an average Nigerian,” she said.
Meanwhile, efforts to get Osula to respond to the allegations against him were not successful as he did not respond to messages sent to him.
But, according to some persons who commented on Oluremi’s post, they alleged that he was fond of doing that.
They said the way Adekoya was treated justified the recent ranking of the Nigeria Police as the worst police organisation globally. They said it was regrettable that Nigerian policemen could be “rented” by anyone who could pay.
Even though successive Inspectors-General of Police, including the incumbent, Ibrahim Idris, have respectively given orders that policemen posted or assigned to private citizens should be withdrawn “with immediate effect”, that order has seemingly become a rhetoric.
Idris had on June 23, 2017 at an interactive session with a group of civil society organisations, under the auspices of “The Situation Room” said, “We will withdraw all mobile police back to barracks to concentrate on dealing with serious law and order situation. It means that we are stopping deployment of mobile police from protecting VIPs in the country because that is not where they should serve.”
But, till date, many policemen are still attached to private individuals, politicians, entertainers and anyone who has the money to pay for their protection.
The Police Public Relations Officer for Zone 2 Command, Dolapo Badmos, said she would look into the petition.