A mother of two, who gave her name as Chika Elekwachi has lost her pregnancy following police brutality. Narrating her ordeal, she said:
“On July 19, 2015 at about 7 pm, I was driving along Old Ojo Road to my house in my Infinity QX35 Sports Utility Vehicle with registration number MUS157DG.
Park or I fire you: “In the vehicle with me were two friends of mine. On getting to Pako Bus-stop, a mini-bus with four occupants double-crossed us in a gestapo manner. This made me to suddenly apply the brake. At that point, occupants of the mini-bus, who were dressed in civil attire, jumped out of the bus. One of the gun-wielding men had a black branded police T-shirt.I was ordered out of the car by the police who yelled, ‘’Park or I fire you’’. Another one spoke in pidgin English, ‘’Oga na pregnant woman o.’’
In response, the first policeman said: ‘’If na pregnant woman nko, I will kill her if she is not careful.’’ Before I could move, my front doors were flung open and I was pulled out of the vehicle.All my pleadings that I was eight months pregnant fell on deaf ears, as they continued to beat me. I was dragged on the floor and eventually stripped naked.The incident attracted a sympathetic crowd, whose pleadings were ignored because the men insisted that I would follow them to the station,” she recalled.
As she continued, Mrs Elekwachi said:
“While I sat on the floor to cover my nakedness, having been stripped naked, the police men began to drag me; while struggling with them, I fell and hit my stomach on the floor.“The men were not deterred as they carried me to the station where I was dragged out of the vehicle. It was there that I got a phone from a passer-by and called my family to intimate them about my ordeal. It was at this stage that the Divisional Crime Officer, DCO, came out to know what caused the pandemonium outside, because I had lost consciousness.
I was then taken to Safe Hands Medical Centre, where I was diagnosed of maternal trauma and placenta abruption. As a result of that, a caesarean operation was carried out on me to bring out the baby, who died after four days in an incubator at Outreach Medical Centre, Satellite Town”.
Thereafter, the brutalised lady, who was not immediately informed about her baby’s demise, was taken to a government hospital in the area for further medical attention. It was at this hospital, that VF visited her for the first time.
According to Elekwachi, her journey to the health facility was facilitated by the Police. She explained that the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in charge of the station was sending police officers on daily basis to inquire about her welfare and also to offset some of her medical bills.
‘’The Police brought me to the hospital. The DPO was sending people everyday but the visit stopped after a few days. I needed to buy drugs that were prescribed for me but I did not see them.I also needed to scan my stomach and chest but did not do so because the Police stopped coming to the hospital. My calls to them were also ignored. I didn’t see them until I was discharged,’’ she noted.‘’The policemen who visited me at the hospital were concerned about my condition. One of them even informed me that those who brutalised me were sent to a place where a commercial motorcyclist died in a motor accident. They were sent there to ensure that the truck that killed the motorcyclist was not set ablaze. It was on their way to the scene that they assaulted me,’’
Continuing, she said:
‘’Since I was discharged the DPO has not called me. However, my relatives went to the station to collect the death certificate of my baby but it was not given to them. Rather a letter was given to them requesting me to come to their office in Ikeja on August 3, 2015.’’
The letter titled “RE: Orderly Room Trial”, dated July 31, 2015 has 4161/LS/SAT/VOL 3/369, Chika Elekwachi ‘F’ as its reference number. The invitation which emanated from the DPO’s office read:
“I refer to the incident of 19/7/2015 along Old Ojo Road involving you and three Policemen.
You are requested to report on 3/8/2015 at 10:00 am to the Provost, Nigeria Police, State Headquarters Ikeja to give evidence on the matter. Accept my assurances of the Police Commissioner’s highest regards.” The invitation was signed by the DPO, Mr. Felix Ofili, a Superintendent of Police.
The orderly room trial seems to be sequel to the confirmation of the incident by the Lagos State Police Command and its promise to investigate the matter.
It also noted that the three policemen had been arrested.Not minding the concern displayed by the DPO, some of those who got wind of the incident are demanding a proper investigation and prosecution of the suspects according to the laws guiding the force.
Elekwachi’s lawyer, Mrs. Franca Okafor has already written a seven-page petition to the Inspector General of Police and the State Police Commissioner.
The petition read in parts: ‘’It is not in doubt that the fundamental rights of our client had been flagrantly and violently breached by men of the Nigeria Police and our instruction is to demand from you the sum of N2, 500,000 (Two billion five hundred million) for general exemplary and aggravated damages coupled with a public apology”.