A 300-level student identified as Princewill Jumbo, 22, who attends Rivers State University of Science and Technology, alongside his friends got more than they bargained for after they were arrested by the police, tortured and the sum of N20,000 extorted from them.
According to Punch Metro, trouble started when Princewill in the company of his friends, were returning to Port Harcourt from a burial in the Buguma area of the state on Saturday. The friends have been identified as Iyoyo Soberekon, Charles Benjamin, Julius Abazie and Franklin Ordu, a final year student of the institution.
It’s understood that the students were arrested by the Anti-Cultism Squad of the state police command at a park in Buguma, where they wanted to board a bus en route to their residence in Port Harcourt around 5pm on that day. There was an argument between the students and one of the riders who conveyed them to the park which prompted the chairman of a motorcycle riders’ association to call the policemen on the telephone. On arrival at the scene, the police arrested the students on the ground that they were cult members.
According to Princewill, he and his friends were undressed by the operatives and beaten thoroughly with sides of cutlasses. It was only on Monday that the students except for Ordu were released having spent all weekend in detention. Princewill said:
“Franklin (Ordu) gave the rider N500 and requested N300 change, but the rider said he did not have change. His co-riders volunteered to split it but he refused. He said Franklin must find N200. That was how the argument started. As we were arguing, a man, who called himself the park manager, wanted to slap Franklin. We cautioned him and the next thing he did was to call the policemen on the telephone that cult members were disturbing the community.
“The policemen removed our clothes. We were left with only our boxers. They told us to lie on the floor and they started flogging us with the sides of cutlasses. They beat us up as we made our statements. When the beating persisted Franklin told them that he was a cultist. They later took us to the Swift Operation Squad office in Port Harcourt.
“Inside the cell, there is a 13-year-old boy, called Small. He told us he was arrested a few weeks ago around his house in Abonima and that his family members were not aware that he was in police custody. Others we met there said they were just picked on the roads.”
“I don’t know their names but I can recognise them,” he added while urging that the policemen who assaulted them, should be brought to book.
According to his father, Mr. Progress Jumbo, he parted with N20,000 because the policemen threatened to implicate Princewill. He said:
“The policemen asked me to pay N20,000 or else they would send a letter to my son’s school that he was a cult member. That was the threat they used to extort the money from me. As a father, I had to succumb to their threat. Why should I allow my son to be rusticated for no reason?”
Princewill’s sister, Mrs. Peace Asoka, said:
“The authorities need to know about this incident so that the police can stop harassing innocent persons. The policemen involved in this should be brought to justice. They collected N2,000 from me before I was allowed to see my brother in the cell.”
One of the victims Benjamin, who described the incident as “embarrassing”, demanded Ordu’s release.
“They kicked my face before they used the cutlass on me. They did not behave like policemen”.
Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, the Rivers State Police spokesperson, urged the victims to come to his office for the identification of the policemen involved in the alleged assault.
“As for Franklin (Ordu), somebody has to stand as a surety for him before he can be released. The person has to sign an undertaking that he will be of good behaviour henceforth”.