I Was Handcuffed Like A Common Criminal – Journalist Narrates Bitter Experience With SARS
Kofi Bartels, a journalist with Nigeria Info, has become the latest victim of extrajudicial activities by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad department of the Nigerians Police Force.
Bartels, an on-air personality based in Port Harcourt, took to Twitter and narrate how he was brutalized by personnel of the dreadful police unit.
Narrating his ordeal, Bartels said he saw some SARS officers manhandling a boy while trying to arrest.
“Yesterday, I was driving in my area and saw SARS officers beating up a boy who lives in the area. His mum fries akara for a living and I knew immediately that they wouldn’t be able to ‘settle’ the officers. He kept shouting, ‘What have I done’, as they tried to force him into their bus.
“They were beating the hell out of him and don’t know if he would have survived. I made to go plead with them but at a point hesitated and chose to take a shot of the bus and number plate,” Bartels narrated.
Noticing what he was doing, the cops left the boy and pounced on him in a manner he described as the “beating of his life.”
He said, “They started by smashing my knees repeatedly with wooden bars. As I type this, my left knee is swollen and my right knee seriously bruised. I have pains in my head, neck and back.
“I was handcuffed like a common criminal and shots were fired to disperse a small crowd that had gathered. After the second round of beating, I was taken to SARS HQ in Port Harcourt, where I was beaten more mercilessly by the SARS officers who took me there.
“About three others also joined in. They took turns to slap, punch, and kick me while I was struggling with a swollen knee. At least six officers, one at a time.
“One swore he would have ‘wasted’ me if his team were the one that picked me up. I was told to get ready to be thrown into their cell where I would receive the worst torture, including sexual abuse by male inmates.
“I was saved at the last minute when word got to their former boss and they were ordered to release me unconditionally. The pains were unbearable last night and I’ll have to go for a skull and knee X-ray today.”
The OAP said the officers were angered by his radio programme as he usually addresses issues of people who have been victims of extrajudicial activities by the police.
He added, “A couple of them told me to watch my back, saying this is my end in Rivers State, due to the human rights issues we treat on radio involving SARS and the police generally. My phones were seized and I had no way of communicating with anyone.
“Several times, I’ve had to use my media platform to shout on behalf of the voiceless in our society who have had their rights trampled upon by people meant to protect them. I got my own first-hand experience yesterday. Some of the officers made me know how they felt about that…. literally.”
He made known his intention to write to the appropriate authorities of his ordeal and threat to life, adding that Nigerians should be aware and hold the Police responsible if anything happens to him.
In a reply to him by the Police Complaint Response Unit on Twitter, the department tweeted that an investigation has been initiated.
“Your complaint is hereby acknowledged and investigation initiated. Tracking Number will be issued shortly,” the PCRU tweeted.
A second reply by the unit read, “Kindly forward your contact number via DM, please. Your tracking number is #CRU349533. Kindly DM your phone number for the Unit to contact you. Thank you for contacting NPF-CRU.”