Police tortured me, collected N100,000, alleged I was gay – Victim

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A Benin-based tailor in his mid-30s, Johnson Eze, on Monday told the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of SARS and related abuses of how the police arrested him over an allegation that he was gay, tortured and forcefully extorted N100, 000 from him.

 

Eze, who said he was detained at the Iyekogba Police Station in Benin on the orders of the Area Commander for three days, alleged that he was abused and coerced to sign a statement already prepared by the police.

Similarly, two other victims, Hyacinth Inhanrebhor and Pascal Omozee, also alleged that they were made to pay N50,000 and N60,000 respectively on the claims that they were homosexuals after being arrested by policemen and taken to the same Iyekogba Police Station.

Narrating his ordeal, Eze said he was arrested on June 15, 2020, by the Area Commander, Johnson Acha, and his team and was detained till June 18 after he was forcefully made to pay N100, 000.

He said, “They took me to the police station and forced me to agree that I was homosexual. They used a stick to beat me to say the truth and after then, they detained me.

“I sustained an injury in my forehead and my leg during the beating. They molested and detained me based on accusations that I was gay. I was molested and humiliated for three days from June 15 to 18 after which I was forced to pay N100,000.”

Under cross-examination by counsel for the police, Polycarp Odion, the victim, however, said he did not obtain a medical report from the hospital to substantiate his claims of being beaten and injured.

Odion, however, told the panel that the victim was only blackmailing the police.

But counsel for the victim, Innocent Ukpai, alleged that it was the pattern of the Area Commander and his cohorts to invade the privacy of Benin residents, arrest, detain, molest and extort money from them for unjustifiable and unsubstantiated reasons.

He demanded N10m compensation to be paid to each of the three victims.

‘My unlawful detention caused my wife death’

Also speaking, Mr Osazee Agbontaen, urged the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of SARS and related abuses to compel the police to compensate him over the death of his wife.

The 33-year-old farmer and electrical engineer from Ekowe community in Ovia North East Local Government Area of the state said his wife died while he was unlawfully detained for two weeks based on a petition against him.

He also lamented that he was later taken to the correctional facilities, where he spent several months before he was released.

He said, “Ten days into my detention, my pregnant wife, who was eight months gone, put to bed through Cesarean Section and she did not survive. My arrest caused the forced labour.”

He noted that after thorough investigations, the Department of Public Prosecutions said he had no case to answer and was released.


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