A couple, Mr. Okuchukwu Obiechina and his wife have narrated before members of the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Related Abuses and other Matters, how they lost two pregnancies while undergoing torture in custody of officers of SARS.While narrating her ordeal, Mrs. Obiechina, a teacher, said she and her husband were arrested on June 2, 2017 and were detained for 22 days in SARS custody.
According to her, the matter became subject of litigation before a Federal High court, Lagos, which later awarded them N2million damages to be paid by SARS.
Although, SARS appealed the judgment, its appeal was however dismissed in the Court of Appeal. Explaining how it happened, Mrs Obiechina said the incident started when she received a message that she had a parcel from DHL. According to her, she later got a call and the person asked her to send him her house or school address, after she had told him that she was a teacher.
She said: “When I got home, I told my husband, who is a businessman what happened. He collected the number from me and called but the phone was switched off.” She continued that her husband asked her to give the caller her school address, so the next day the person called again with a different number.
After two hours, the person called again. She said not much later, a black jeep arrived her school with someone who wore a DHL apron approaching her.
“When they got closer, I saw huge men in the jeep and immediately they pounced on me and started beating me and called me a thief,” she stated. Obiechina, who had no legal representative at the panel, said she was two months pregnant when the incident happened and she was abducted and taken to SARS office in Ikeja.
“The officers started beating me and said they would remove the fetus in me and I would die. They also insisted I should produce the father of the baby that my husband was not the father of the baby in my womb.
“At 3pm, they brought me out. I begged them to allow me to call my husband so that he would know where I was. I also told them that I have a five-year-old child in school that I needed to call someone to take the child home, but they refused.
“Later, I was allowed to talk to my husband, but the phone was on loudspeaker, it was one of the SARS officer, by name Christian that put the phone on speaker. My husband said he had looked for me everywhere, that the proprietress told him that some policemen arrested me. It was Christian that told him where I was,” she stated.
Obechina named the three SARS officer that tortured her as Philip Rilwan, Christian and Harouna Idowu. She said: “When my husband came to area F, they started beating him and put a tyre on his neck. They said that they would kill him like others that he is a thief. He was hit on the head with the butt of a gun. They also hit his head with a stone. I was urinating on my body when all the torture was going on.
“Around 7pm, they took us to Federal SARS at Ikeja and then gave my husband his phone so he called our pastor and I was also allowed to call a co-teacher friend to help me take care of the child, they said the child should die there.
“We spent three weeks in the cell under open roof were rain drenched us. We slept on the floor and as a pregnant woman, I didn’t eat anything. At night, they would come and take me up stairs on interrogation, because of the stress and torture, I lost the two months pregnancy.
“I got pregnant again the second time, after we were released. On Sunday, while we were preparing to go to church, they came again to arrest my husband and Rilwan said that the order was from Abba Kyari. I pleaded with them to allow my husband dress up, because he was on boxers, but they refused and took him away.”
Obiechina, further explained that when she couldn’t get through to her husband after one week, she contacted their lawyer who helped them to get an order from the Federal High court for their immediate release.
“Because of the stress and trauma that I went through, I lost the second pregnancy again,” she said.
“We were awarded the sum of N2million, by the Federal High court because of the brutality and trauma that SARS caused us, but up till now, we have not been given the compensation. They also appealed the judgment but the appeal court dismissed it. Nothing has happened since then.
“They also took the N50, 000, that my husband brought to the place. We bailed ourselves with N400, 000,” she said. Mr Okuchukeu Obiechina, confirmed the testimony of his wife.
After listening to the complainant’s, Justice Doris Okuwobi said the proceedings has to be adjourned because some members of the disbanded SARS mentioned needed to be invited through the Commissioner of Police for their own side of the story and adjourned to November 10.
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