I became wheelchair-bound, wear adult diapers after SARS DEAlt brutality -Survivor tells Lagos panel

A phone accessories dealer, Ndukwe Ekekwe, has told the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution that he started wearing adult diaper as a result of Police brutality.

He said his encounter with then operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit of the Nigeria Police Force left him with spinal cord injury that made him to become wheelchair-bound.

Recall that the judicial panel was set by the Lagos State Government to examine allegations of brutality and high handedness by the defunct SARS.

At its sitting last Tuesday in Lekki, the panel, headed by retired Chief Justice of Lagos State, Justice Doris Okuwobi, listened to the case involving Ndukwe Ekekwe Vs the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

In the petition, Ekekwe requested compensation of N15m from the government after FSARS operatives allegedly auctioned his goods and he became wheelchair-bound.

“After their brutal torments and bodily injuries, I was initially rejected at a federal teaching hospital, before the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, eventually admitted me.

“I spent two months in Igbobi and underwent surgery on my spinal cord. Now, I cannot do anything on my own without the assistance of my mother or other people. As I am sitting here in front of the panel, I am wearing a diaper,” he narrated.

Ekekwe said his travail started on February 16, 2018 when FSARS operatives led by a certain Hamza Haruna invaded his shop in a two-storey building in Alaba area of Lagos.

According to him, the team refused to disclose his offence, but the operatives had insisted on arresting him, based on an alleged order from the Inspector-General of Police in Abuja.

Ekekwe said when he tried putting up a resistance, he was handcuffed and his legs were also chained, after which the FSARS operative allegedly descended heavily.

A crowd that gathered to see what going on was allegedly dispersed when the policemen started shooting into the air.

“I was bundled into one of their waiting vans amidst beating. I was stabbed in the hand and also received injuries to the head as a result of persistent assault with gun butts.

“When they drove beyond Ojo Police Station, I started asking them where they were taking me to.

“As I brought out my phone to make a call, one of them snatched it and smashed it,” Ekekwe said.

The Alaba trader narrated how he was taken to a “torture room” at Ikeja Police Station where he was allegedly stripped naked and “drilled” till the next day.

He added that the following day, he was brought back to his shop in the company of some armed SARS operatives in the evening.

“They forced my shop open and started selling off my stock. When I protested, I was pushed down the two-storey building. How I survived is still a miracle.

“I lost consciousness immediately. They later dumped me at a clinic at the Police College in Ikeja.

“After my family located me, I was denied treatment at the clinic. I was also rejected at a federal teaching hospital in Lagos before Igbobi agreed to rehabilitate me,” he said.

According to him, the fall from the two-storey building left him physically incapacitated.

During his two-month stay at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Ekekwe, who is in his late 30s disclosed, he had multiple surgeries on his spinal cord injury.

He noted that though weeks of physiotherapy after the surgery had improved his condition a bit, he had lost the use of his limbs.

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Ekekwe, who was brought to the Lekki Court of Arbitration, venue of the Lagos Judicial Panel, in a wheelchair, demanded a compensation of N15m which he claimed was the worth of the goods he lost to the SARS brutality.

“After that incident, I ended up in this wheelchair. My life became difficult as my mother was the only one carrying, bathing, cooking and doing everything for me. As I am sitting here, I am wearing a diaper. That is how miserable my life has become.

“To date, I still don’t know the offence I committed. Aside from the claim that it was a directive from above, nobody has come out to say this was what I did wrong,” he bemoaned.

While admitting his plea, the Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel directed the petitioner to produce his patient card of admission at the national orthopaedic hospital, pictures of him in bandages or Plasters of Paris, the doctors’ prescription lists, as well as his hospital bills.

His case was adjourned to November 13, 2020 for further hearing.

Addressing journalists after the court session, Ekekwe’s mother, Nnenna, lamented her frustration regarding the reversal of roles, noting that she was condemned to devote the rest of her life to nursing her son all over again.

“It is not an easy task. Somebody who used to take care of me is now the same I am taking care of. The same buttocks I washed for him as a kid is the same I am cleaning now. How do you expect me to feel?

“It is like a football team. I am the goalkeeper, the striker and defender. I am the one playing all the roles. If not for Jehovah, God of tenderness, maybe I would have been dead by now.

“I brought him (son) here so that the whole world can see what they (SARS) are doing,” she stated.

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