The Nigeria Police Force on Tuesday paraded 12 suspects in connection with the torture of three women at Oba Morufu International Market, Ejigbo, Lagos State.
The suspects, said to be members of the Oodua’s People’s Congress, had reportedly tortured the three women last year for allegedly stealing pepper.
Following the outcry that greeted the video of the incident which surfaced on the Internet, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Muhammed Abubakar, ordered the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad to take over the investigation.
The detectives were said to have been led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, FSARS, Chris Ezike.
Force Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Frank Mba, who paraded the suspects at FSARS office in Adeniji Adele, Lagos, said, “Twelve persons have been clearly implicated in this investigation which began with the reconstruction of the video.
“On February 13, 2014, the FSARS conducted an identification parade in which the victims positively identified 10 of the suspects. The victims were also able to attach roles played in the incident to each of the suspects identified. Items recovered during a search of the suspects’ houses include a dane gun.”
The leader of the suspects, identified as Isiaka Waidi, the Baba Oja (market leader) of the market was said to have extorted the sum of N50,000 from the victims to secure their freedom.
Mba said, “The police have been able to establish a prima facie case against the suspects who will be facing multiple charges of conspiracy, assault, causing bodily harm and murder. Waidi will in addition face charges for extortion.
“Four suspects are still at large and they have been declared wanted. They are Tinrin, who allegedly stripped the victims naked and captured the torture on video; Otekpa Olurantin, Akeem and Micheal Abolore.
“Nigerians are advised to approach the nearest police station for proper background checks of any vigilante they employ. The IG has ordered for the proper auditing of neighbourhood watch and vigilance groups members in line with international best practices.”
Director of the Office of the Public Defender, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi, said the agency began working on the case after receiving a petition from Women Arise for Change Initiative, a civil rights organisation.
She said, “Supported by the Lagos State House of Assembly, we were able to get witnesses who supplied valuable information which was handed over to the police. The witnesses have been in protective custody ever since.”
President for Women Arise, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, urged people with useful information on the suspects, who have been declared wanted, to come forward.
She said, “When we saw the video on March 8, 2013, we met a brick wall at Ejigbo, while trying to investigate. It was heartwarming when the IG directed the FSARS to take over the case.
“The victims can now attest to the fact that no matter the poverty, one can get justice. Jungle justice does not pay.”
Waidi, however, denied that he was at the scene of the incident.
He said, “When I got to the scene that day, it was already over. I was only told that some people had tortured the three women. I fell ill and travelled. By the time I returned, I was surprised when the community ruler told me that I was wanted by the police.”
But 12-year-old victim, Nike, who was present at the parade with her mother, Mrs. Ajoke Agomo, also a victim, refuted Waidi’s claims.
She said, “Waidi brought the men that beat us up. They beat up my mother and stripped her naked. I told them that my sister just joined us from the village, but they beat her up. They also insisted that my father must refund the money for the pepper and after that, told our landlord to evict us.”
The last victim, Nike’s half sister, Juliana Agomo, was said to have died as a result of the torture.