Brutal treatment of a career civil servant and Administrative Officer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra state, Mr. Chukwuemeka Obi by the operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS), Anambra state Command has taken a dramatic twist as the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, Director General of DSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, National Assembly Committee on Human Rights Abuses, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) received their petition.
Obi’s family had petitioned the federal government, and its agencies praying for disciplinary action against the dissident officer, identified as Mr. Paul.
They are calling for immediate arrest and prosecution of Mr. Paul, who they said tortured and brutalized their son for no just cause.
The father of the victim and former chairman, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, Hon. Sir Tony Obi, who narrated his son’s ordeal in the hands of DSS while briefing journalists in Awka said he will take the matter to any length to ensure that justice prevails.
Obi, who is currently the Coordinator, Emeka Offor Foundation while narrating the ordeal said he wants to air his feelings over the inhuman treatment meted to his son on 31st of December, 2018 by operatives of the Department of State service, Anambra State command, headed by the Director, Mr. Yusuf Isyaku and one of the his operatives that led the team, one Mr. Paul.
“The said Paul manhandled my son, Chukwuemeka Eziuzor Obi who went just to ask why his brother was being apprehended when his younger brother, Chuka invited him. My son, Chukwuemeka Obi is an admin officer with Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and he is married and responsible. His younger brother, Chuka is a post graduate student of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra state.
“On the day in question, Chuka went on an errand for his mother to buy tiles, cement and sand with which they will do some amendment which they had commenced on the 25th of December by one particular tiller who we never knew. He was introduced to us by the person he bought the tiles from. So, on that day, he went to withdraw money from the bank with ATM to purchase tiles and on his way to the market, he was accosted by a Hilux pick up and one officer came down, showed his ID card and told him not to move that other of his colleagues are coming.
“He begged him to call his family and he obliged him that. He called his mother and his mother called his elder brother. This happened in front of All Saints Anglican Church, Amenyi, Awka.
“When Chukwuemeka got to the place, he questioned what the problem was, but he never talked to him as this was happening, their mother, Barr. Mrs Obi joined them and they said that they are going to DSS office and that Chukwuemeka who came around is now under arrest. They all drove down to DSS office at Amawbia. On reaching there, they handcuffed Chukwuemeka who did nothing to them, asked him to face the wall, he did and same Mr. Paul used horse whip to design my son.
“As this was happening, they made a call to me. I was in the village. When I enquired of what happened, they said that a number was being tracked through the phone of my youngest son and it happened to be a tiller who they claimed had an issue. After flogging Chukwuemeka in the presence of his mother, they said they extracted a number that called him that they want to know who owns the number. They said the number in question was used in collecting ransom from kidnap victims. They said they flogged Chukwuemeka for trying to obstruct their investigation.
“The DSS Director was said to be in Abuja and was on his way back to Awka on the said date. When I eventually met him, he admitted that Chuka did nothing. That they later discovered that the number they were tracking belongs to a tiller and not my son, Chuka, that they are very sorry. The said Paul, latter claimed that my son, Chukwuemeka was trying to disarm, hence his reason for flogging him with horse whip and I wonder how Chukwuemeka will disarm an officer in their own office. That was when I vow to explore this brutality to the core.
“Since that 31st till date, the DSS has not deemed it fit to apologise to my children for the embarrassment and brutal treatment. I want to let the world know that this kind of something shouldn’t happen in a country like Nigeria, a situation where a brutal treatment is being meted to an innocent person.
“Even if the person is a criminal, the law will take its cause as the case may be. This matter has been reported to the police. If this is the way, SSS has been operating in Nigeria, the authorities concern should let us know. My family is decent and our records are very impeccable as far as the society is concerned. I have been a victim of kidnap in the year 2012 and I stayed in their custody for one week. So, nobody in my family will ever be associated with such.
“After this, I will petition all the necessary authorities in Nigeria; the DG DSS, IG of Police, Civil Society Organizations, Committee of the National Assembly on human Rights abuses. The fundamental human rights of my children cannot be abused in any way. I can stake anything to this effect.
“So, our prayer is that this operative called Paul should face the music. This kind of thing is a cankerworm that is painting this country wrong. That is not the picture of DSS. Imagine, he striped my son naked, a senior civil servant for that matter who recently got married. You can also imagine the trauma he will be passing through.
Also narrating his experience with the operatives on the said date, Obi’s wife, Mrs Helen Obi Esq, a lecturer at the faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and Former Secretary, International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) as well as the present State Commissioner of the Nigerian Girl Guard noted that the federal government reason for making certain laws such as the law against brutality and violence against person prohibition act was to protect citizens and safeguard their rights.
She shared experience on how the DSS operative also abused her in their office, dragging her on the floor and pushing her out of their compound.
“I want to explain an ordeal which I experienced with my son on 31st of December, 2018. On the said date, my son called and said the DSS apprehended him and I rushed to the scene. I asked what happened they said until I get to the station.
“Getting there, they handcuffed my son Chukwuemeka, asked him to face the wall which he did. I was trying to explain myself and my family but they refused to listen to me. What I saw was one Mr. Paul who went to his office and brought out horse whip and started flogging my son.
“I cried and held unto all of them and they dragged me to the floor and out of the gate. I was there screaming, crying and nobody came to my aide. After few minutes, Paul invited me to his office and said Madam, this is why you are here. We are looking for your son, and one tiller who is working for you that the tiller is involved in the case of kidnapping and that the governor, Chief Willie Obiano is interested in the matter and asked him to apprehend the parties that are responsible. That he whipped my son because he tried to obstruct him from doing his work.
“Nigeria is a country with so many laws, in 2017, we have the act passed by the National Assembly on brutality, we have violence against person prohibition act, and even the law being passed. What then is the reason for the laws if justice cannot be obtained for the innocent citizens.
Obi’s son, Mr Chukwuemeka who was the victim, could not control his tears on having nostalgia of his encounter with the DSS. Chukwuemeka said he would not erase easily the trauma he passed through in the hands of the operatives.
According to him, “What I experienced on that fateful day was a terrible experience that I cannot forget in a jiffy. When I met my younger brother at the place, I saw him inside the vehicle, he showed me the man that apprehended him. I tried to find out what happened.
“Earlier, he didn’t show me his ID card and he had no rifle and the vehicle he came with had no plate number, it was just tinted and he was on mufti.
I became apprehensive that operatives should at least have something to identify them with and the rate of kidnapping in the state one has to trade with caution over who stops him and who he follows to anywhere. I also told him that my younger brother has an official vehicle, that even if he committed any crime that he has the right to know what his offence was. I blamed my brother for stopping for unidentified individuals. That was just my offence.
“The Paul in question started raising his voice, asking who I am to interfere in his investigation. He made some calls, two other vehicles came around. Immediately they came around, he went to his vehicle, brought out a rifle and shot on the air. He asked his colleagues to apprehend me that I was interfering in his investigation. I never resisted the arrest. They told me to move to their vehicle, I did peacefully.
“We got to their office and he directed them to move me to one strange corner inside their compound. He also directed that I be handcuffed and I was handcuffed and he ordered that I face the wall. After about 5 minutes, he came out with a horse whip and started flogging me. I can’t even count the number of times he whipped me with that. It was indeed a terrible experience.
“At a point, I started begging, telling him that I was not feeling fine but he never listened to me. He later asked me to remove my shirt and trousers which I did in obedience, wearing only bursars. He started flogging me again. Boasting that I am nobody that he will deal with me ruthlessly. After the severe beating, they dropped me under the scorching son for over 2 hours, still facing the wall.
“After wish, he said I should dress up and come into his office. On getting there, he said I should write a statement, as I was writing the statement, he said I should stop writing and leave his office. That I should call my father and go. So, I laughed when I had that he alleged that I tried to disarm him and I wonder the possibility of disarming an officer in his office with handcuff on my hands.
When contacted, the Director DSS, Anambra state command, Mr. Yusuf Isyaku admitted that the incident happened but said the office is still carrying out an administrative investigation into the matter.