The Lagos State Police Command has arrested five policemen attached to the anti-robbery section of the State Department of Criminal Investigation, Yaba, over the abduction and torture of a journalist, Femi Owolabi, and others.
PUNCH had reported on Monday that Owolabi and about 30 others were abducted by the policemen who embarked on an illegal raid near a night club in the FESTAC area of the state. The victims were conveyed in three blue buses to the SDCI and tortured for several hours.
The report subsequently drew the ire of human rights activists who demanded the prosecution of the culprits.
Following the PUNCH publication, the Force headquarters tendered an apology to Owolabi. The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, also gave the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, 48 hours to fish out the culprits.
Police investigations revealed that the errant cops were attached to D9 (anti-robbery section) at the SDCI. The cops, it was learnt, would be given an orderly room trial to determine if they would be dismissed or not.
The Lagos CP confirmed to our correspondent that the policemen had been arrested.
“I can confirm to you that the policemen have been detained over the incident and investigations are ongoing,” he said.
The CP said that the command would not tolerate human rights abuses, as he had directed the Officer in Charge of the section to produce the list of the policemen on the raid.
He added that the Deputy Commissioner of Police, SDCI, was personally in charge of the investigation.
The Lagos police boss said he had interrogated the senior police officer that led the raid and had checked the list of those arrested on the fateful day.
He, however, said Owolabi’s name was not seen on the list. He, therefore, urged the journalist to come to see him in his office as soon as possible in order to assist with investigations.
The CP said, “I have asked the OC of D9 to identify the operatives who went to FESTAC Town on that raid. I also met with the team leader of the raid yesterday (Monday) who explained his own part.
“He showed me the list of people raided at FESTAC. I do not know whether the journalist gave another name, but there was no Owolabi on that list.
“The DC, SDCI, had called the journalist to assist the police with investigation, and to ask him to identify the policemen involved. The public can be assured that the command will not tolerate human rights abuses.”
However, Owolabi told our correspondent on the telephone that he gave his name to the policemen, adding that the cops who embarked on the illegal raid were not less than 10. He had, in the Monday report, identified one of them simply as Isiaka.
The Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Abayomi Shogunle, said the Force headquarters was still awaiting the report from the Lagos State CP.
He added that the report would determine further actions.
He said, “The directive from the Force Headquarters is that the CP of Lagos State should investigate and submit a report to the headquarters within 48 hours and that limit has yet to elapse.
“It is when the report from Lagos comes in that you can get updates from the Force headquarters.”