By Iteveh Ekpokpobe
Mrs Rufus Victory, the victim of a curfew enforcement assault by a team of members of the Nigerian Police Force and Local Vigilantes in Warri, in the late hours Sunday 17, May, 2020, has dragged her assailants before the office of Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
In a petition signed by Ikimi Oghenejabor Esq., and titled, “Re: Case of Assault, Sexual Harassment, Extortion and Threat to Life by Police Officers of the B Division Warri”, the victim, Mrs Rufus is calling for an unbiased and independent investigation of the matter.
The victim stated that the petition became necessary following the manner the issue was handed by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), of ‘B’ Division, Warri, Mr. Benjamin Igometi, when approached.
As stated in the petition, the DPO resorted to threats rather than calling his men to order and making inquiry into the matter altogether.
According to the petition, “Our client categorically states that she and her elder brother who is a lawyer as well as other members of the family, thereafter proceeded to to Area Command in Warri to report the matter to the Area Commander. The Area Commander, then put a call across to the said Divisional Police Officer of Warri ‘B’ Division, advising him to produce the said Ibrahim, and others who were alleged to have committed the above offences and find a way to resolve the issue at hand.”
“That on arrival at the said DPO’s Office the second time, our client and family members including her aforesaid elder brother, were further threatened by the said DPO, who ordered his men to walk out our client and her family members including her elder brother out of the said Police Station, demanding them that they go to court despite the order of the Area Commander.” The petition read.
The victim, Mrs Rufus is calling on the requisite offices to investigate the alleged sinister act of the men of the Nigerian Police Force ‘B’ Division, Warri adding that it is their practice every now and then to extort and assault innocent citizens which they are statutorily meant to protect.
Petitioner Is Impatient – DPO
Responding to the allegation, the Divisional Police Officer, Mr Benjamin Igometi, alleged that the petitioner was impatient as he employed possible means of resolving the matter.
He said, “When I resumed duty, the Local Government Chairman, briefed me that residents of that area do not obey the curfew and that I should ensure compliance. When a team led by my DCO got to that area, they discovered that shops were open, generators were running, and residents were on the streets. When the residents noticed the patrol van, they took to their heels. What my men did was to put off the generator sets and seized them as well as the tables and chairs in the several bars.”
“I think, two days later, A lawyer came to my office to lay complaints when I was just about stepping out for a scheduled courtesy visit to the monarch. I asked him to visit again if the issue was not urgent. It was then he told me about the seized generators. I told him I have to contact my DCO who was in charge of the operation to identify the generator sets and to brief me appropriately.”
The DPO said that the lawyer returned later and alleged that the police men, entered the victim’s house, opened their pots of soup and assaulted them.
“I asked him to wait for the DCO whom I called to report to my office immediately. He said he couldn’t as he had spent too much time. The lawyer left my office for the Area Command. The Area Commander called me and ordered that I give attention to the case. When the lawyer returned, I was quite busy with another case. My office was full.”
Mr Igometi said that instead of waiting, the lawyer started throwing tantrums and disturbing the peace hence he order him out.
Recall, in a incidence many Deltans have condemned, Police Officers in ‘B’ Division Eboh Road, Warri, Delta State were accused of physically and sexually assaulting one Mrs Victory Rufus, on Sunday 17, May, 2020, over curfew enforcement in Idama Road, Warri.
Recounting her ordeal, Mrs Rufus disclosed she was indoors with her 11 years old Son (name withheld), enjoying a home video when her generator set went off.
She said on getting out to know the reason behind the black out, she saw a crew of policemen and local vigilantes making away with her generator set.
According to her, one of the policemen started flogging her for asking them why they put off her generator and were carrying it off.
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