By Simeon Mpamugoh


•When the policemen were brought to the command headquarters in Owerri


For Tochukwu Ukazu, April 24, 2024, will remain one of his worse days in the hands of policemen along Mbaise Road, in Imo State.

Ukazu, who lives in New York, United States of America (USA), returned to Nigeria on April 5, 2024, to visit his mother and other family members.

On that fateful day, he chartered a Sienna car from a transport company to take him, his wife and four-year-old son to Asaba, Delta State, from Umuahia, Abia State. At 9.15am, they met three police officers on the way. The police officers stopped their car and demanded the driver’s ID card and vehicle particulars, which he gave to them.

The officers told the driver that his medical certificate had expired and that he should come out of the car, adding that they would take the car to the station. Then one officer came inside the car and reversed it. The passengers  (Ukazu and family) asked him where he was taking them to and he said, “station.”

Ukazu narrated his ordeal:”We told him he can’t take us to the police station because we did not do anything wrong.

The driver told them they cannot take the car too to the station because it belonged to a company.

“As the police officers continued to delay us for more than 30 minutes.I used my phone to start recording what was going on for my family’s safety. The video was just 27 seconds. The things that happened after the 27 seconds-video were horrible for anybody to face in the hands of police officers.

“The second police officer who was the one on the driver’s side with his gun  assaulted me, punched me in my face and head and cocked his gun to shoot me while the first police officer called ‘Tallest,’ who was their leader, handcuffed me, collected my phone and forced me to open my phone and he deleted the video I made and also went into my phone trash to permanently delete the video so nobody will ever see the video.

“While all this was going on, my wife was crying and begging them to leave me. My son was crying, shouting: ‘Leave my daddy’, ‘leave my daddy.’ He vomited out of fear, anxiety and the brutality I was going through.

“At a time, the police officers wanted to separate me from my family. They stopped tricycle (keke) to take me inside the bush to execute me because they said I want to make them lose their job after many years in the police.

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“The first police officer, nicknamed ‘Tallest’ made a video of me to admit that I video-recorded them. My wife refused to let them take only me away, and insisted that the police officers should take everyone wherever they wanted to take me to.”

He disclosed that the first police officer said he would have to pay them N100,000 if he wanted them to let them go: “I told them I didn’t have up to that amount with me but offered to pay them N50,000 in cash but the first police officer refused and said they would take me to PoS to withdraw the money. So, the officers entered inside the Sienna bus with us and one other man who emerged from the bush. 

“He held the money they were collecting and did not appear in the video. He entered the keke they stopped earlier to take me inside the bush to the PoS,  inside the old filling station by Seven and Half and Umuoke Road. I withdrew the N100,000 and gave it to them before they let us go.

“The first police officer said he was letting me go because of how traumatized my son was. Till today, my four-year-old son is still describing what happened to me. From time to time, he touches my face and asks me if I feel okay.

“For me, these officers have no business in the Nigeria Police Force. They brutalized me, humiliated me, rough handled me, held me and my family hostage against our fundamental human rights. I need justice. The good news is that I used a special software and app to record this video after they deleted it permanently from my phone.”

Acting on the incident, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Center (RULAAC), which works with the police and the people to promote transparent and responsible policing forwarded the complainant’s video and photographs of the scene to the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Aboki Danjuma. 

He promptly acknowledged the complaint and expressed sadness about the incident, promising to take action. The CP asked that the complainant should see him in his office but, unfortunately, he was in Lagos at that moment.

Executive director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma, said: “The AC X-Squad, Imo State Police Command, on the directives of the CP, called and informed me that the officers had been identified and were before the CP.

“He wanted the complainant to come and identify the officers. He’s still in Lagos. But we availed him the AC’s number to call him.

“We want to use this medium to say kudos to the CP, Imo State Police Command. He truly does not condone indiscipline, corruption and misconduct in policing in Imo State. On two occasions that we are aware of, he has made officers who extorted bribes from innocent people arrested by corrupt officers to refund the bribes they extorted. We sincerely commend the CP for his professional and exemplary leadership as CP of Imo State.”

Nwanguma said that RULAAC believes in the rule of law, respect for human rights and due process, adding that the police must be made to enforce the law and remain accountable to the people of Nigeria.

When contacted on phone, the Commissioner of Police Imo State, Aboki Danjuma, told Daily Sun that the police officers were still in detention.

Danjuma said: “They are still in detention. We are still waiting for Tochukwu Ukazu or the person that reported the matter.

“However, they are still in detention. If Ukazu can come to the command headquarters in Owerri we will bring them out. If I’m not in office, I will direct my escort to introduce them to him.

“We are going to bring them to trial and it’s certain they’ll loose their jobs. They are not denying the claim that they assaulted Tochukwu Ukazu.”