By Onozure Dania
One of the ladies, Felicia Nkemakolam Okpara, whose video went viral on the internet, while being dragged to Ojuelegba Police station, for videoing police shooting at the protesters, Friday testified before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) related Abuses and other Matters.
She testified that she was beaten and made to remove her bra in their presence and in front of the police man.
“After taking off my bra, one police man went inside to bring a broken mop stick and used it on a guy that was also arrested after beating him, he went out and came back with the same anger and started beating me with a gun, I was scared that what if he pulls the trigger, I think he realised what he was doing and then stopped and started using the gun butt to beat me”, Okpara said.
The petitioner who said she is an orphan, narrated that the police man kept beating her with the butt of the gun and was threatening to take her to Panti, Kirikiri and didn’t allow her or the other lady that was arrested to make call to anybody.
The 27 year old Okpara also said that when a man came to take her statement she discovered that he was an Igbo man, so she spoke Igbo to him, to see if he could be of help, he asked her to calm down.
She said ” They took us upstairs, and brought us back that was where I saw Desmond Elliot, there were so many lawyers around, my head was bruised, my face was bruised, I saw some lawyers and Desmond Elliot, I said someone from the government. Later Desmond said where are the two ladies that the video was trendy online, that was when I knew he came for me’.
The mother of one said that Desmond Elliot gave her N6000, to go home around 10pm, after she was released.
” I was smelling, in fact stinking, I was traumatized, there was no vehicle, no cab, I walked to Yaba, I would have been raped that night, because of the state I was in, I asked a man if I could get a cab home, he said no that I should come and sleep in the bus, then I looked for a hotel and paid with the N6000, Desmond Elliot gave me. I slept till 4am, I couldn’t even take off my cloths”, Okpara added.
The petitioner, who is an applicant, said that on October 12, she had gone for an interview in Ojuelegba, at a consulting firm, adding that after the interview, she was asked to do some corrections on her curriculum vitae CV.
She said that she went out in search of a cyber cafe, so that she could effect the correction but, that she couldn’t find any as it was her first time in the area so she went to the bus stop.
Okpara said ” At the bus stop I discovered that there was so much traffic, so I said since I couldn’t make the correction on my CV, I decided to board a bus to Ikorodu, it was on the way that I saw that the traffic was caused by the #EndSARS Protesters, and I had wanted to join in the protest before, so I got down from the bus and started making video of the protest”.
” While I was there I heard gun shot that was around Ojuelegba bus stop, I was still at Barracks so we started running for safety, my self and some protesters, so when I got to a point some one said I shouldn’t go further because someone had died at the front, so I ran back to Area C command when the police man at Area C Command started coming out”.
ⁿWhile I was there, I started making videos to share on Twitter to show what was happening because people were running for safetyⁿ, she said.
Okpara also stated that there was one man on white who said she should stop recording, ” I said no, I won’t, he said I should stop, I said who are you to ask me to stop making videos with my phone, it was when I looked at his side that I saw a gun and knew that he was a policeman”.
” Then another man came on a uniform and asked me to follow him, I said no, he then dragged me and one other girl, I didn’t resist them, but they dragged me with force, when I got to the station I saw so many of them, they started beating me with their legs and slapping me”
” While the beating was going on, I lost control of my body and my phone fell, so one of them smashed it, I saw women coming out of the station and started beating us, myself and two other girls, there was a lady with low cut there who started hitting my phone, because if it spoils I will not be able to reach anybody to tell them where I am”, Okapara said.
” I had a swollen mouth and bruises on, we went to the station, the lawyer was the one speaking to the DPO at Yaba to pay my hospital bills since others said they can take care of themselves, I was given N200,000, I insisted that there should be a written agreement, I took a picture of it and I also have the video”, she said.
The case was adjourned till December 4, for continuation of trial.