rofessor Sunday Edeko teaches law at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, and he is well respected by his students and colleagues. In one of his articles published on the Sacha Journal of Human Right In 2011, the law professor espoused the principle of natural justice and its importance in building a fair society. His article was motivated by the concern that a society that fails to prioritize the principle of natural justice in the administration of justice exposes it citizens to danger. His fear was confirmed in March 13, six years after writing the article.
A battery of policemen whom he encountered on the way from his mechanic workshop assaulted him and made him write an apology letter despite the violation against his human right.
Here is how he narrated his experience in a letter sent to SaharaReporters:
This is to inform you concerning the brutality the special anti-cult unit unleashed me at Ekpoma on the 13th day of March 2017 between 9:30am to 3:00pm
On the day in question, I was on my way from the mechanic workshop located at Ikhirolo Junction to Ukhun Road where I intended to hand over the car to my family. As I passed through Agbon Lane between Afua Street and Ukhun Road, I saw a boy in a parked hilux van. The boy is related to Hon. Thomas Okosun. I slowed down and asked the boy what happened. Before the boy could answer me, an armed man who was not in police uniform told me to get away. Without even giving me time to move or offer an explanation, he used a hammer to hit my right hand. That was their first assault against me. I was surprised why a trained police officer would descend to such level of brutality against an unarmed and peaceful individual. I managed to park the car some meters away and alighted from the car. At that point, about five armed men who were not in police uniform advanced towards me.
I clearly introduced myself as Professor Sunday Edeko, the Dean of Faculty of Law, Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma. All my attempts to explain that I am a law-abiding community leader fell on deaf ears. They started the second stage of their assault on me. They descended on me with hammers, cutlass, tear gas, hand and foot. They brutalized me and inflicted injuries on my back, hand and leg. As soon as I left the scene of their unprovoked attack, I drove straight to the police station to report the matter.
A police officer was released to accompany me to the scene. When we arrived there, the attackers had gone. When we went back to the police station, I sighted the men who brutalized me in the special anti-cult unit office and drew the attention of my police companion to them. They chased the police officer away and descended on me with a higher level of brutality. They said they were different from the “useless police officers in Ekpoma”.
They fell me, kicked me around the floor in an atmosphere in which they used tear gas on my eyes, slapped me with cutlass very many times that I could not count. That was the third stage of their assault. When my wife came, they threatened to arrest and charge her with armed robbery, kidnapping and cultism, the crimes they accused me of.
Their fourth stage of brutality against my person started when they gave me a pen and paper to write a statement. They compelled me to write even though I was in pains. They tore my first two statements because they said I should not write my name as “Professor Sunday Edeko”. They equally seized the third and fourth statements because they were not written in the exact way they wanted.
Although they accused me of cultism, I must state that I have never been involved in such activities. Throughout the period they detained and tortured me, I made uncountable number of appeals to them that I am a responsible Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law. The more I introduced myself, the more they got infuriated.
They accused me of an attempt to go and buy Indian hemp from a woman they also arrested. It was even in the police station that I met the woman for the first time as I never knew her before then. I have never smoked Indian hemp and I hope they will agree for all of us to do examination to know who will test positive of Indian hemp consumption.
I never obstructed them since all I asked one of the boys after they were already arrested was a simple “what happened?” I have never insulted the police. In fact I collaborated with them in the past to play a better role in law enforcement. Even after they brutalized me in town, I went to the police station because of the confidence I have in the police. Only a fool will obstruct and insult the police and still go to the police station to seek their protection. I am not a fool. Moreover, an unarmed civilian of my status has no capacity whatsoever to obstruct close to a dozen police officers who were fully armed and who effected arrest already.
Whenever I failed to write the exact thing they told me to write so as to incriminate myself, the more they slapped me with hand and cutlass and sprayed tear gas on my face. They only stopped beating me after they used their torture cutlass to cut the shoulder of one of the suspects. I have been able to identify the boy they cut on the shoulder through the same hospital we went for treatment. About 12 of us were in their torture office. They detained me behind the counter for about two hours before I was released with the intervention of the Onoje of Ekpoma and the Divisional Police Officer. I immediately proceeded to the General Hospital Ekpoma for medical attention.
As if their brutality was not enough, they compelled me to write an apology letter over an incident in which they brutalized and dehumanized me hoping they could use that to cover their tracks when in fact it only aggravates their degree of impunity. They are the people who owe me apology and compensation. I never broke the law. They broke the law with the highest level of impunity and recklessness.
I need to add that I am not the only person they have so brutalized as others are willing to step forward for their testimonies. Ekpoma is now in a state of fear. They attack people with impunity. They have broken up birthday parties in hotels. They raided Hisbanah Hotel near No 17 Eromon Street and arrested more than 50 boys and girls who were in a birthday party. The owner of the hotel, a former local government Head of Service called Mr. Cyril Abhulimen informed me. They equally used cutlasses and hammer to torture them.
In a society where they arrest innocent people, it cannot be said that they are combating crimes at all. Ekpoma has become a town under siege. This is the right time to stop these men now. It is not just about me but about the people of Ekpoma. I just happen to be the first to openly complain. So many people have been brutalized. The day they arrested me there was no space in the cell to detain some of us because it was filled up. Those arrested hardly get charged to court. The woman they accused of selling Indian hemp was released without charge.
This is for your information and any action you can take on my behalf to redress their cruel and unreasonable assault on my person. The Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Nigerian Bar Association have already taken some steps over the matter. I have also sent a petition to Zone 5 Police Headquarters. Their leader in the anti-cult office who joined other police officers to brutalise me is ASP Ojo. One of the attackers is Mr. Harrison Ehigbor who I later learnt to be a native of Illeh.
I was released when the DPO came and appealed to them. I was not taken on bail but simply released.