A trader, Ndukwe Ekekwe, on Tuesday narrated how his spine was broken in 2018 when operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) threw him down from a two-storey complex at the Alaba International Market in Ojo, Lagos.
Ekekwe testified before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS-Related Abuses in Lekki, Lagos.
Ekekwe, 34, said he was arrested on February 16, 2018 taken to SARS head office in Ikeja, stripped naked and brutalised in a torture chamber.
He added that the next day, the operatives took him back to his three shops, broke the doors open with hammers and looted phone accessories.
Ekekwe, who said he was never told the reason for his arrest, stated that when he raised the alarm, he was thrown down from the building.
Now paraplegic, following severed spinal cord, Ekekwe was brought to the panel from Badagry by his aged mother, Nnenna Ekekwe. His father, according to him, is bedridden, suffering a stroke.
The trader, who narrated his ordeal in pidgin English, was not represented by a counsel.
He told the panel that his fellow traders intervened to stop the operatives from taking him away until they provided their identity cards.
He said: “They immediately removed their SARS shirts and began to shoot and everyone ran away. I asked them what is my crime and they said it was an order from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
“I was handcuffed in one hand because they noticed I wasn’t a troublemaker. On our way, they stopped at Igando and came down from their car and were talking.
“I used my other hand to reach my phone to try to call my mother and the Inspector saw me, approached me and asked who gave me the guts to make a phone call. He took the phone, stepped on it and destroyed it.
“He stabbed me on my wrist and back and I was hit on the head with the butt of a gun They collected the N58,000 from me.
He added that some SARS operatives who were torturing other individuals also joined their colleagues to torture him.
Elekwe said: “I was left there till evening and I didn’t know my crime and till now I don’t know my crime. They kept saying they had intelligence report on me.
“At night of 17, 2018, I was taken to my three shops where I sell phone accessories.
“The SARS men using hammers broke into my shop and took my goods in their vehicles and sold some off.
“They took away my goods worth N15million. I began shouting to attract attention and the commander told them to take me to the top of the two-storey plaza and I was thrown down from the building.
“The SARS operatives that threw me from that building is Hamza Haruna. They took me back to their office in my injured state.”
Ekekwe said when his condition became dire, he was taken from the SARS office to the Police Hospital in Ikeja from where he was referred to Igbobi Orthopaedic Hospital and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
The trader told the panel that he used to be the breadwinner and that he suffered a spinal injury from his fall which led to his paralysis.
The petitioner said his family paid his medical expenses and that he also had to sell his house and landed property to continue his treatment.
Chairman of the panel Justice Doris Okuwobi adjourned proceedings to November 13 for the testimony of Ekekwe’s mother.