Two Nigerian police officers in the Bariga area of Lagos State, frustrated that a motorcyclist would not let them extort a bribe from him, instigated a mob to beat up their victim, leaving him comatose, our correspondent found.
The horrific attack took place in the early hours of Tuesday, January 17th, 2017. After failing in their bid to extort the motorcyclist, the two plain-clothes officers rallied a mob by raising an alarm that their victim had attempted to kidnap a baby on his motorcycle.
The police officers then began beating the victim, Awalu Yenusa, and later stood aside and watched as a mob set upon the innocent man, pummeling him to a near-coma.
Narrating his ordeal yesterday, Mr. Yenusa told our correspondent that he was taking one of his regular passengers and her child to school when he saw a police officer disguised in his usual mufti wear and harassing bikers for bribes. According to him, he was able to recognize the police officer from previous encounters when the officer had tried to extort him. He then advised his passengers to alight from the bike and to meet him at a point past the checkpoint mounted by the rogue officers. However, one of the police officers had already sighted him and moved to ambush him. In a bid to escape the officer, Mr. Yenusa said he sped off, with the child of the woman who had alighted still on his bike.
According to him, the child’s mother cried out that her child was on the fleeing bike. The woman’s yell alerted the public. The two police officers, one in mufti, the other in his uniform, then ran after him.
“The policemen hit me with an object on my head, and then more people gathered and began to beat me while the police held me,” said Mr. Yenusa. He added, “That was all I knew until I opened my eyes in the hospital bed the next day.”
“I know the [officer] in mufti very well. He had stopped me before, disguising himself as a passenger, but then announced to me that he was a police officer and ordered me to stop,” said Mr. Yenusa. According to him, he paid N10, 000 on that occasion even though he had committed no offense.
The unsavory encounter enabled him to realize that the man in mufti was a rogue police officer.
“The woman on my bike on the fateful day is my customer and I have been taking her with her child to school for three years now,” Mr. Yenusa told a correspondent of SaharaReporters.
He accused the police of raising a false alarm on him because the officers knew he was avoiding being extorted by them. He also stated that the officers not only began beating him but also supervised his beating by the mob.
One eyewitness told our correspondent that the two policemen actually thought that their victim was dying before they took him to the Gbagada General Hospital.
Mr. Yenusa stated that he would not suddenly be a kidnapper of a child he had been taking to school for three years.
Mr. Yenusa’s brother, who arrived at the scene where he was being mobbed, said he fought hard to get his brother to the hospital. He described the police officers of callously abandoning his brother’s near-lifeless body, perhaps hoping he had died.
“The moment the policemen arrived with me at the hospital with my brother’s body, they just dumped him for me and left immediately,” said the victim’s brother. He insisted that the police officers thought his brother was already dead.
The victim said he opened his eyes the next day in the hospital bed.
“When I opened my eyes eventually at the hospital, I noticed it was my brother who had heard of my torture and had insisted I be taken to the hospital,” he said.
Mr. Yenusa expressed shock that a woman who for three years had entrusted him with taking her child to school would allege he was running off with the child when he was merely trying to escape extortionist police officers in Bariga.
“I’m sure the police over-bloated their alarm because I was escaping from paying their bribe,” he said.
Mr. Yenusa told our correspondent that the police or the mob had seized his phone, which contains the telephone number of the woman whose son he had given rides to for three years. He added that the police or the mob had also snatched away some of his other personal effects.
The victim is currently in his home in Oworonsoki recuperating from the serious injuries he sustained from the attacks. He told our correspondent that he could not afford the hospital’s bill of a daily N10, 000 for bed occupancy. He said some of his symptoms remained untreated.