How Police brutalized a Beauty Queen


On December 12, 2009, I had two projects to execute in connection with my source of livelihood. The first project, the shooting of the musical video of Eugene De Coque, was billed to take place at Beaton Studios, Egbu Road, Owerri. It was scheduled to start at 11.30 a.m. The other project, Uwenja Fashion show 2009, was slated for 6.00 p.m at All Seasons Hotel, Owerri on that fateful day. I was a principal participant in the two events. Indeed, I had already entered into a contractual agreement with the organizers.

At about 10: 45 a.m., I was driving along Okigwe Road on my way to Beaton Studios to fulfill my obligations with respect to the first project when I met a heavy traffic build-up at the Prison Junction. Unfortunately, my car was overheating and I couldn't risk staying long in the traffic. So, I advanced towards Rochas Plaza, opposite Modotel Hotel via a right lane after pleading with another motorist, who allowed me to join the queue at his back on the left lane leading to Wetheral Road.

As soon as I made the said move above , I noticed that a police constable has spotted me from afar. Immediately, she came towards me. She got to me after passing four other vehicles. When she got to me, she ordered another police constable, Chinenye Nwaigwe, to enter my car and take me to Shell Camp Police Station. I then moved into Wetheral Road and parked at No. 1 of that road.

When Constable Nwaigwe came in, I explained to her that my car was overheating and that if I had not taken the decision to join the left lane, which was flowing freely, the car could have stopped and complicated the already bad traffic situation. Besides, I tried to make her understand that I had an important appointment to keep and that the more she kept me there or insisted that I go to the police station with her, the less likely it was for me to meet up with my appointment. So, I pleaded with her to let me go. When all these failed to persuade her, I then made her to understand that at the point she saw me join the left lane , I was not in the breach of any traffic law.

When my explanations and pleas could not make her to rescind her decision on taking me to the police station, I decided to go with her. To my greatest surprise, she started wrestling the steering from me. I exercised patience until I turned back. On reaching FSP Park, I was flagged down by a colleague, Mr. Osuofia. After I explained my situation to him, he decided to phone the Chief Security Officer (CSO), Government House. However, when the CSO called, they refused to pick his call. Also, the Divisional Traffic Officer I (DTO I), Mr. Peter Calvin, New Owerri Police Station, called but they refused to take his call.

At this juncture, they took my car keys from me, flagged a taxi and insisted that I should enter the taxi. On my refusal while they were trying to force me into the taxi, one of the female police constables, Chinenye Nwaigwe hit me on the forehead with her baton. Battered and bloodied, they took me to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) at Shell Camp Police Station, Mrs. Ogbodo. There, they seized the writing materials of the courageous journalist, Mr. Ejike Ogbonna who accompanied me to the station. Later, on the instructions of the DPO, I was taken to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri under the watch of Mr. Paul Opurum, a police officer, where I was treated. After the treatment, I was accompanied back to the station by my Lawyer, Barrister Kelechi Onyeakazi.

The DPO merely cautioned the policewomen and had them locked up for two hours. I was at the police station till the evening of that day and got back to my home at 7.55 p.m. As a result of what transpired that day, I missed being part of the musical video shoot of Eugene De Coque and partaking in the Uwenjah Fashion show for which I had already signed the contract. And because I was not part of the Owerri edition, I could not be part of the one held in South Africa as agreed.

Consequently, I lost my financial entitlements in the projects and I paid my hospital bills as the police authorities said they could not pay. Today, I experience excruciating pains occasionally on my forehead as a result of that brutal assault by Constable Chinenye Nwaigwe. So, I am lucky to be a living victim of police brutality, for many have died under such circumstances.

Steiner Opara

Fig 2 My battered and bloodied state at the scene of the incident.


Fig 3; by the side of the policeman with camera is Mr Ejike Ogbonna, a journalist with National Question and facing the policeman is Mr. Osuofia who flagged me down and who made a call to the Chief Security Officer (CSO) in the Government House, Owerri. The lady behind Ejike is Ms. Oluchi Ezike, the friend with me who witnessed the assault.


Fig 4 the Uwenjah Fashion Show 09 scheduled for that evening at All Seasons Hotel Owerri