Friday, 18 December 2015

FIRS boss’ escorts attack Lagos motorist

A Lagos-based Information Technology consultant, Wale Oyewole, has accused the Maroko Police Division of ignoring his complaint about the torture he was allegedly subjected to by some security details attached to the acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Babatunde Fowler.

PUNCH Metro learnt that three mobile policemen in Fowler’s convoy attacked Oyewole at the Lekki Phase 1 gate while he was returning from a church with his children around 1pm on Sunday, discharging pepper spray in his eyes.
Our correspondent gathered that the convoy, comprising a white Hilux, a black Ford Explorer and a Land Rover LR4 with number plate, FIRS 01 B, had met a line of vehicles, including Oyewole’s car waiting to enter the estate in succession.
Our correspondent learnt that Oyewole, who claimed that he did not know initially that the vehicles were in a convoy, said he allowed only one of them to drive through the queue before him.
The policemen were said to have taken offence by his action, pointing out that Oyewole ought to have given way for the entire convoy.
He said the operatives slapped him and sprayed the liquid into his eyes when he tried to explain that he did not realise that they were in convoy. He added that the policemen threatened to shoot him.
Oyewole said, “My experience at the Lekki Phase 1 entrance gate in the hands of Fowler’s security details was frustrating.
“A white Hilux with cops abruptly pulled up alongside me with no siren. I allowed the Hilux to get in front, and then I moved behind it. But three mobile policemen jumped out of the Hilux and pointed their guns at me. One slapped me in the face, the other punched my head.
“I told them to calm down, and I came out of my car, but I was manhandled and pepper-sprayed in my face. Then, they drove off quickly. I temporarily went blind and my throat became very dry. It was some people around that rallied around me and gave me water. After I became stable, I went to the Maroko Police Station to report the incident. But I was not allowed to make a statement. They told me to go and that there was nothing they could do about it.”
An eyewitness, who identified himself only as Kingsley, said Fowler watched as his details beat the motorist. He blamed the FIRS’ boss for not cautioning them.
He said, “The man was beaten up in front of his children because he didn’t give way for the convoy of the FIRS boss at the entrance of the Lekki Phase 1. They sprayed his eyes with pepper spray in the presence of his children and beat him up while Fowler watched in the vehicle behind.”
One of the security guards at the gate, who did not want his name in print, told our correspondent that he also witnessed the incident, adding that the policemen zoomed off afterwards.
He said, “That day, the convoy met the man’s (Oyewole’s) car on the queue and one of them drove into a space in his front. When the second vehicle attempted to overtake his car, he did not give him space. That was when things turned ugly. One of the policemen sprayed something in his eyes and they left.”
However, the spokesperson for FIRS, Mr. Emmanuel Obeta, said Oyewole forced his way into the convoy. He said the escort thought he wanted to attack the chairman. He, however, denied that Oyewole was beaten up by the operatives.
He said, “If he was in front of the convoy, they would allow him to pass first but he was not. He actually drove into the convoy. The pilot’s vehicle, where the police were, had already entered the gate. He then came and wanted to enter in front of the chairman’s vehicle. The policemen merely asked him to leave. He challenged them, but he was not beaten.”
The Lagos State police spokesperson, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, urged Oyewole to go back to the station to report the incident.
He said, “The DPO of the station said he was not aware that the man was not allowed to write a statement. Let him meet the DPO and report the matter.”
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