GIMBA Kakanda, a social commentator and a columnist with Daily Trust has shared how he and two others were among citizens assaulted by police for protesting on Sunday in Abuja.
Kakanda in a report published by Daily Trust, said the experience was “traumatizing” and a “close shave with death in the hands of the police”.
He also disclosed that an Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, Mala B. Shehu, threatened to kill him after ordering his men to beat up and dehumanise him, along with others during the #EndSARS protest in Abuja.
Nigerians has for days being protesting against brutality and demanding scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious Police unit known for profiling, human rights abuses, extortion, intimidation, harassment and killings.
The Police had attacked peaceful protesters by using teargass and use water cannon to disperse hundreds of protesters marching from Unity Fountain toward the Force Headquarters on Sunday morning.
More than 10 people have been killed as protesters across the country continue protesting and demaning for a reform of the entire police force.
Gimba and others were attack as they went to retrieve their cars parked by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, which is a few metres opposite the Force HQ.
He and another protester, Ibrahim Usman were reportedly beaten with clubs and slapped and beaten.
The attack according to Daily Trust, happened minutes after the protesting crowd was dispersed.
Kakanda and Usman were said to have gotten got a lift to return to the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to retrieve their cars.
According to an account by Kakanda, “When we reached the first barricade and explained ourselves they let us in. We didn’t know it was ploy.”
As the men reached for their vehicles, armed policemen accosted them with a barrage of questions.
“I tried to explain myself. At that time I was on the phone with a friend who is a police officer himself. I was attempting to hand over my phone to the man talking to us when someone hit me hard with a stick from behind. They grabbed the phone and smashed it on the road.
“There were a number of vehicles there aside ours. But these policemen went on rampage immediately by using knives to tear as many tyres as they could. They destroyed three of my own,” he explained.
After destroying the tyres, Kakanda said the policemen turned on them with clubs.
“I was using my hands to protect my face and head and that was how they caused serious injuries on my hands,” he narrated.
“They dehumanised us as much as they could and kept boasting that they could have killed us and erased every trace of our existence.”
Kakanda said after the initial round of beating, the policemen then dragged them before their superior.
“The officer, an ASP, with the name tag “MB Shehu” was very hostile and was direct in his threats. He told us that we were lucky it was daytime that had it been it was at night they would have killed us.
“’I’ll waste you right now and nobody can do anything to me’,” Kakanda quoted the police officer saying.
He said the police officer ordered his subordinates to take the two activists into the police headquarters for more beating before handing them over to SARS.
“He asked us why we didn’t go to protest at the SARS offices instead; when Ibrahim tried to explain that the Force headquarters was the right place for such action, they started slapping him again,” Kakanda said.
He further disclosed that a senior officer Kakanda, which he could only identify as “Ibe King N” save them from being brutalised more by the Police officers.
“When he saw us being escorted in, he was alarmed and asked the policemen about our identity. They told him that we were among the troublemakers protesting. To our relief and surprise, the man frowned at their action and ordered them to take us to his office instead.
“When we were alone in his office, he told us his intention to let us go but expressed fear that the same men could intercept us on our way out. So, he asked us to make a call for someone who could come and take us out,” Kakanda narrated.
While this was going on, former education minister and activist Oby Ezekwesili, arrived at the Force HQ demanding the whereabouts of Kakanda and Usman.
“The officers outside told her we were not in their custody. But she insisted. When the officer who was with us heard that he beckoned us and handed us over to her.”