‘I Spent Five Years In Prison Because I Couldn’t Pay N10,000 Bribe’
A 39-year-old man, Marc Nwadi, says he has developed hatred for the Nigeria Police Force after he was framed for armed robbery and sent to the Kirikiri Prison for five years.
Recounting his ordeal to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing allegations of human rights abuses against the disbanded police Special Anti-Robbery Squad on Saturday, Nwadi said he was 18 years old when he was picked by policemen at a bus stop in the Egbeda area of Lagos State in May 1999.
The petitioner said he had just finished his secondary school education at the time and had the ambition of studying journalism.
He said he came from Abia State to Lagos State to look for his brother who was living then in Egbeda, but on getting to the address given to him at about 9.30pm, one man told him that his brother no longer lived there.
He said the neighbours did not know where his brother had relocated to and because it was already late, he begged a barber operating in the building to let him pass the night in his shop.
Nwadi said he got up the following morning around 5.30am and headed for the bus stop with a plan to look for his uncle living in Surulere.
He said he was standing at the bus stop with his travelling bag and a polythene bag alongside other persons waiting for a bus when a police vehicle suddenly appeared and stopped and policemen began to arrest people.
Nwadi said on being picked up, he tried to ask questions but was beaten each time he tried to speak.
He said he and five other persons, including some females, were eventually taken to the Idimu Police Station, where one Mr Friday, a policeman, demanded N100,000 from each of them.
He said soon, others were freed but because he had no money, he was kept in the cell and Friday came every day to beat him.
“It has been 20 years, you can still see those marks on my body. The marks have been a horror. Anytime I pull my clothes, my wife and children will be crying,” Nwadi said.
He said after weeks at Idimu Police Station, Monday called him one day and said he would be transferred to SARS office in Ikeja, except he could pay N10,000.
He said since he had no money, he was transferred to SARS where the torture was worse.
He said he was eventually paired with someone, tagged an armed robber, arraigned in court and sent to Kirikiri Prison where he spent five years.
“I can’t see clearly now; I am partially blind. I can also not hear properly because of many slaps,” Nwadi said.
He added that a youth corps member, Eric Ugwuoke, serving in the Nigerian Prison Service, who listened to his story, eventually facilitated his release in October 2004.
“It has been a long time but I cannot forget. They killed my ambition. After my O’ Level, my ambition was to study journalism. Since then, I have hated the Nigeria police,” Nwadi told the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel.
The panel adjourned the matter till December 11.