An artiste, Richie Sunday, aka Dollamachine, has accused some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of unlawfully arresting and torturing him.
Sunday said he was arrested around 12pm on Thursday, July 19, 2018, in the Iyana-Oworo area of Lagos State.
He added that the policemen said he was a yahoo boy (Internet fraudster).
It was learnt that the 26-year-old was on his way to a supermarket to buy some drinks before the SARS operatives accosted him, telling him to enter a commercial bus.
The musician also said when he requested for the identity of the officer that initially stopped him, he and other members of his team allegedly pounced on him using the butts of their guns and sticks to beat him up, injuring him in the process.
Sunday said he was not told what he did and was never given the chance to explain, adding that when he could no longer bear the pain and realised that his life was at stake, he got into the bus.
He said, “It happened on Thursday around 12pm at Iyana-Oworo. I have a studio there; but an event was going on so I could not drive out when I needed to get a bottle of cold drink and table water. While I was on my way, one man who was armed and putting on a T-shirt accosted and told me to follow him.
“I asked who he was because I wanted to be sure that he was a policeman. But all of a sudden, the officers started beating me; they used the butts of their guns, and sticks to hit me and eventually forced me to enter inside a commercial bus.
“They refused to identify themselves and did not give me a chance to explain who I was. At first, I was taken to the Iyana-Oworo Police Station, but later, they took me to Charlie Boy Police Station. I did not write any statement, but they wrote a statement for me which I refused to sign.
“They accused me of being a yahoo boy and took my mobile phone; but in the process of checking my phone, they checked my profile and got to know that I was a musician.
“They did not find any incriminating item on my phone, but they had already beaten me black and blue. All I got was, ‘sorry, it will not happen again.’
“I was held up for about four hours before they set me free.”
The Akwa-Ibom indigene, who said he was still nursing the injuries he sustained from the encounter, added that he was traumatised and had been deprived his fundamental right as a Nigerian citizen.
He also called on the government to reform the police to make it more responsible, adding that corrupt officials are denting the image of the force.
Sunday said, “I am still traumatised; I lost N15,400 and some jewellery. As I speak with you, I am in pain. When you called me, someone was applying some local medication on my legs where I sustained injuries. I feel I have been denied my right to walk freely as a Nigerian. I cannot move around freely anymore, except when people are with me because I am scared.
“I want the government to focus attention on these SARS men because a lot of people are going through this same ordeal in their hands. A lot of youths are being accused for what they know nothing about. I just want the government to focus on fishing out these corrupt officials and reform the Nigeria Police Force.”
The state Police Public Relation Officer, CSP Chike Oti, confirmed the incident, adding that the officers involved were not SARS operatives.
He said, “The boy was not picked up by SARS. He was picked up by the Anti-Cultism Squad of the command that acted on credible information that cultists were having initiation ceremony around the particular location.
“The officers stormed the location to arrest a large number of cultists and he was picked up because he was at the location.
“He, however, gave a satisfactory account that he was a musician to the officers and was released with no bail condition. It is surprising for him to start saying that he was maltreated.
“Artistes who are in the twilight of their careers should not use the name of the police to launch themselves back to stardom.” – Punch