By ONYEKACHUKWU MELUWA, Warri
The Warri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA today stated that their Colleague, Barr. Bernard Oyabevwe can no longer see light properly without wearing a shade because of the way he was brutalized and charged to Court at the verge of death by policemen from the “A” Division in Warri.
At a press conference in Warri, the NBA claimed that the lawyer was dragged on the ground with blood on his body.
The Warri NBA Chairman, Barr. Godwin.O. Eboweh who boasted to have video footage and photographs of the incident, said the lawyer is still receiving treatment at the treatment.
Eboweh walhi was flanked by the Warri NBA Executives condemned the act.
“This police brutality must stop. It is a show of shame and we condemn it in its entirety.
” The Warri Branch will take it up and no matter whose ox or gored in the process, we must see that the culprit, the policemen involved, their leaders, DPO of the “A” Division Warri, the Area Commander, I am saying it specifically.
“Am mentioning their names because they participated. They encouraged this brute. Men who are not fit and proper to even be members of the Boy Scout let alone the police.
” People we armed with our tax payers money to guard and protect us now, they are extending it to not just civilians but attacking lawyers. It is an act which is highly condemn-able. “
Eboweh stated that the police attacked lawyers because of inferiority complex stressing,”This must stop.”
Eboweh on behalf of the NBA demanded for a full blown investigation into the brutality of the lawyer which he christened as “barbaric” which he said must not be allow to see the light of day.
While noting that the current wave of police brutality calls for concern, Eboweh said the NBA must invoke the relevant Provisions under the constitution and the relevant laws to put an end to the dastard act.
“The NBA Warri has never seen a thing like this. In my entire practice as a lawyer, i have not seen an act like this.
” Even the Judges, Magistrates came out to appeal to the Area Commander. The man refused and he said he was acting under the instruction of the Commissioner of Police to charge our colleague who was brutalized, at the verge of death.
“We must commend the Admin Judge of the Warri High Court who took time, left her Court physically to appeal to them to take him to the hospital, they refused.
“Low and behold, they charged him for a single man attacking policemen in the police station. It is a story that is told by what we call a tale told by fools.”
Eboweh called on the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Khoutoun Idris,the Police Service Commission, PSC as well as the relevant government authorities to immediately remove the Delta State Commissioner of Police, CP Muhammad Mustafa and the Warri Area Commander, ACP Mohammed from Office over the matter.
The NBA is also calling for the transfer of the Divisional Police Officer of “A” Division, CSP Kelvin Zuokumor from his present jurisdiction.
The NBA also threatened to institute the necessary legal actions if the aforementioned Officers are not removed from Delta State.
the NBA said the Police Officers and their men involved in the brutalization of their colleague are not fit and proper persons to be members of the Nigeria Police Force.
The NBA also demanded that the names of the policemen involved in the brutalization of the lawyer be made known even though it also tendered the names of some of the policemen to include Corporal Collins Imadeh, Onyinakasa Joseph a.k.a, Casa Joe.
The NBA boss gave a brief description of Onyinaka Joseph as a policeman, a Sergeant with Force Number;372964 who carries dreadlocks stressing that lives above his means.
Contacted, the Delta State Acting Police Public Relations Officer,DSP Andrew Aniamaka claimed the lawyer allegedly assaulted a policeman in his attempts to stop Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC was taking away his client from the Police Station.
DSP Aniamaka said,”It was a case of transfer of aggression ” by the lawyer to the police stressing that,”One of our men was injured in the process. He was charged with conducts likely to breach Tue peace. The matter is in Court and I need not speak more on it.”
DSP Aniamaka noted that there has been cordial relationship between the police and the Nigerian Bar Association,NBA saying, “They need us more than we need them” just as he assured the public that the police will continue to maintain its relationship with lawyers in Delta State.
An eyewitness, Barr.Mike Asugo said the lawyer was seriously assaulted by the policemen numbering five saying,”I saw bruises on him,he was looking disoriented.
Asugo said there was pandemonium in the area because as he was being dragged on the ground, the mouth of the gun was scrubbing the ground. “We don’t know whether the gun was on safety or not.”
According to him,”When I tried to intervene, a policeman tried to attack me but I made a retreat with blood stains on my shirt.
Giving a complete account of the incident which happened June 5 at the Press Conference,Barr.Bernard Oyabevwe, the victim whi was to appear at Magistrate Court II in a matter that was supposed to come up that morning between C.O.P VS NOSA IGIEHON said he also had another matter that same morning at High Court 1 which was not going on because the Court was not sitting.
He said,”I rushed to High Court 1 to see if I could take a date with counsel on the other side. Before I got back to the Magistrates Court II, EFCC had arrested my client who is the Defendant in the matter and taken him to “A” Division, Warri.
“In fact I was informed by the Prosecutor and the I.P.O from Zone 5 that he was forcefully taken from the Court by the EFCC Officials.
“Being a counsel in the matter and owing to the fact that my client tried frantically to get access to me on phone while being forcefully taken away, I took the case file for the matter while holding my wig and gown and diary in my hand and went to “A” division.
“On getting there I saw my client and his wife behind counter. When they saw me they approached one of the EFCC Officials who was standing close to them (armed) and told him that I am their lawyer, but he ignored them and beckoned on his colleagues to start moving my client and his wife but they started resisting and struggling with the EFCC men.
“But I intervened and advised them not to struggle or resist but go with them peacefully. This they did and immediately followed the EFCC men to the waiting vehicle.
“When they had entered the vehicle, I requested to speak with the EFCC team leader but none of them came forward. In fact at this point, they became very aggressive and threatened to beat me up.
One of them who was wearing a T-shirt told me that he will slap me, while the others were pushing me with their guns.
“This actually infuriated me and I demand to know which zone of the EFCC they were from and where they were taking my client without answering me, they entered their vehicle and drove off.
“Because I was standing close by the side of the vehicle, when the driver of the vehicle turned the steering wheel, I stepped onto a slab close to where the vehicle was parked. But one policeman on uniform pushed me from behind as if to push me into the moving vehicle. I turned, after I had gained my balance and asked him why he did that, but he started shouting at me that, that place is not a court but a Police station that I should get out at once. I was completely taken aback by this action that I was forced to ask him what I had done. But immediately I asked that question he became aggressive and actually held my suit (seizing tightly) around my neck, while he was holding his gun with the other hand and started dragging me towards the gate. Because I was holding my wig and gown, the case file and my diary on my hands I couldn’t struggle with him, but when his grip became stiffing I used one of my hand to hold my things against my body, then used my free hand to get his hand off my neck, when I had done this the other officers around who have been watching and raining abuses on me all the while started shouting at me now pulling, dragging and trying to remove my wig and gown from my hand.
“Then the one that held me before came forward again this time pointing a gun at me and threatening to shoot me that I dared to struggle with him. I actually shouted at him this time to shoot me if he can, then I turned and started walking towards the gate but all the policemen there became furious and started saying why would I shout on a station guard like that.
“But I ignored them and continued walking towards the gate the gate, the next thing I got was a mighty blow to the back of my neck that knocked me forward and I fell, but before I could stand up all the policemen started raining blows on me. One of them used the butt of his gun to hit my eye and blood started gushing out, I could not defend myself against them because they were many and coming at me all at once, more so I was holding my wig, gown, file and diary on my hands. So I started struggling to get out through the gate as they continued with their attacks eventually I got out and ran to the court. But the station guard came to the court fully armed and seized me and started dragging me back to “A” Division that the D.P.O wants to see me, then another officer on plain clothes, dark in complexion, huge came slapped me on the face, pulled out a pistol pointed it at my head with one hand, and with the other hand held me and started dragging me to the Police Station while he was threatening to shoot me with the pistol he was holding in his hands.
“During this incident I lost my Iphone and N50,000 (Fifty Thousand Naira).
“When he brought me into the station, another policeman who by all indication was senior to him, and whom I later discovered was the D.P.O ordered them to take me in and deal with me. At that point, they took me to the counter and all of them in one accord started beating me, hitting me with hard objects, in fact the one with the pistol actually slammed his weapon against the side of my head and I became unconscious.
“When I woke up, some persons were kicking me, asking me to tell them my name, I pointed to my diary, and they took it and copied my name from it.
“The policewomen at the counter continue raining abuses on me asking me how much my client paid me to come and destroy the Police Station. By this time I was bleeding all over and coughing out blood and one of my eyes was swollen over and my clothes torn.
“Eventually I was told to write my statement but I couldn’t because I was weak, bleeding, coughing out blood and feeling pains all over me. I couldn’t even see properly, after sometime they came and took me to the office of the Admin Judge High Court Warri, where they informed the Judge that the CP has directed that I must be charged to Court.
“Then I was taken back to the station and I wrote my statement and was charged to court.
“Members of the Warri Bar took up my representation en-mass and I was released on bail on self recognizance and the matter was adjourned to 13th day of June 2018 for trial.”