Lagos police defend power-drunk cop, IG wades in
The police in Lagos have said the 29-year-old photographer, Ejeh Smith, who was brutalised by a policeman attached to the Ikoyi Police Division along with his wife, Grace, was drunk on the night of the incident.
The police authorities added that the couple engaged the policeman in a scuffle, adding that since the incident happened, they had refused to make statements to the police.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Command, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, told PUNCH Metro that the police had, however, detained the erring policeman, Dada Ogunsanya, assuring members of the public that justice would be served.
The Lagos police's defence came as the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, ordered a full scale investigation into the case.
Our correspondent had reported on Wednesday that a photographer, Ejeh Smith, and his wife, Grace, were on their way home in a taxi they boarded at Obalende. The cab was reportedly stopped at the Lekki Roundabout by a team of policemen patrolling the area.
According to the taxi driver, Ndubuisi Iheaka, the police corporal checked the boot of the car before demanding his driving licence.
Iheaka said while he was about getting the driving licence, Ogunsanya decided to beam his torchlight on his passengers.
The couple was said to have protested the action, telling him that the inner lights of the vehicle, which were on, was enough for him to see their faces.
The policeman reportedly asked them to alight after which an argument ensued, which degenerated into a scuffle.
In the process, Ogunsanya allegedly punched Ejeh in the face and also allegedly hit him in the face with the butt of his rifle. He thereafter slapped Grace and stepped on her stomach.
The Ikoyi Divisional Police Officer, Mrs Aisha Haruna, who arrived at the scene was accused by the couple of backing the policeman's action.
The report of the torture, accompanied with the pictures of the couple at the time of the incident published by PUNCH Metro , had sparked rage.
A Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay and The PUNCH online readers, were among those who called for the sanction of the erring policeman in a follow-up report published on Thursday.
The police spokesman, Nwosu, while reacting to the reports, said the police had commenced disciplinary action against the corporal.
It was learnt that Ogunsanya had spent 11 years in the Nigeria Police Force.
He said, “Investigation is ongoing because as a command, we are alive to our responsibility and we do not condone any act of incivility to members of the public.
“However, the police corporal is alleging that the couple fought him in uniform. The man in question (Ejeh) was alleged to be drunk, and since that incident happened, he has refused to make statements to the police. If you have a good case, why will you say you don't want to make statement?
“The Ikoyi DPO they are mentioning said she arrived at the scene and ordered all of them to be taken to the station. She was the one who even issued medical forms to them so they could go to the hospital.
“The man (Ejeh) told her (DPO) that he had taken her picture and would send it to his pastor to pray against her. I was told that he made the station uncomfortable. Can that be right? Is that the way to behave?
“We are interested in flushing out the bad eggs in the system and if this officer that has been accused is one of them, we will flush him out.”
He added that Ogunsanya had been transferred from the Ikoyi Division to the command headquarters where he was being detained.
While reacting to the police claims, Ejeh said he was not drunk on the night of the incident, adding that the police were merely cooking up allegations against him
“I was not drunk that night because I was coming from Ikeja where I worked. I met my wife at Obalende from where we took the cab. I was not drunk at all.
“I also fault the claim that I fought with the policeman because nothing like that happened. He was the one who hit me with his rifle in the eye, so how can a man who could barely see fight again?
“And yes, I told them I couldn't make statement because my eyesight had been affected. I cannot see with one eye right now. I told our family lawyer about this and he said he would write a petition where he will state the case for us.”
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Sulaiman Abba, has ordered a full scale investigation into the case.
The Force spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu, in a statement on Thursday, said all officers implicated in the case would be sanctioned.
He said, “The attention of the Police High Command has been drawn to a viral media story alleging police incivility to a couple in Ikoyi, Lagos.
“The Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, has ordered a full scale investigation into the matter in line with his avowed commitment to protect and uphold the human rights of all Nigerians and residents therein.
“The officer involved has been identified and is already undergoing administrative trial. All other officers whose conduct did not speak well in the incident are also being sanctioned, preparatory to further necessary action.”
The statement further said Abba would not condone any act of indiscipline, noting that any person or group of persons caught acting disorderly or abusing rights of members of the public would not only be punished internally, but would also be made to face the wrath of the law.