Sixty-nine year old, Ipubo David Davis said officers of the defunct Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) unlawfully detained him over a text message he sent to the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on how to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in the State.
Speaking to journalists after presenting his petition at the State Judicial Commission of Inquiry Investigating Acts of Brutality, Violence, intimidations and right abuses of Citizens by officers and personnel of the Nigerian Police in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Ipubo narrated his ordeal in the hands of SARS officers who picked him from his residence in Port Harcourt.
The witness said in the heat of the coronavirus upsurge in the state, he sent a text message to the governor suggesting the establishment of a special centre for victims of the virus in the state and the need to open a dedicated phone line for the public to report incidences of infections for prompt medical attention to victims.
According to him, the Governor acknowledged receipt of the message and promised to get across to him.
He alleged that on the 17th of April, 2020, two policemen visited his residence and informed him that they were sent by the Chief of Staff, Government House, to bring him for a meeting with Governor Wike.
“I hesitated following them because the policemen came in a private vehicle but I decided and left with them in the car. The two men instead of taking me to Government House to meet with the Governor, took me to SARS office at Rukpokwu and detained me till the next day”, he stated.
He said the next day, April, 18 the officers took him to Government House where the Governor received him.
“When the Governor saw me, he asked if I was the person who sent him the text message and I said yes. He said I should give him few minutes. The governor, later returned accompanied by one of his aides with an envelope containing some money,” the petitioner said.
According to him, rather than handing over the money to him, the official gave the cash to one of the security officials who counted the sum of N5000 and gave to him. “They said I should appreciate them for giving me the money,” Ipubo explained.
He alleged that the security officers drove him back to their Rumukpokwu office and charged him with sending threat messages to the Governor of the state and demanded N500,000 for bail.
“Through the assistance of friends I was able to raise the sum of N120,000 before I was released on the 20th of April after three days in their detention,” Ipubo said.
He alleged that security agents and some officials at Government House plotted his unlawful detention and torture to deprive him of the cash gift of appreciation by Governor Wike over his candid suggestions to the state government.
He appealed to the commission to compel the Nigerian police to return his phone which he alleged was taken from him, and also demanded the sum of N50m as compensation for the trauma inflicted on him by the police.