One of the two women seen in a viral video being assaulted by some police personnel in Surulere, Lagos State during the #EndSARS protest, Nkemakolam Okpara, has narrated to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses how she was dehumanised at a police station.
The woman told her story before the panel set up by the Lagos State Government as she was led in evidence by her counsel, Ridwan Oke.
Okpara said the incident occurred on October 12 during the #EndSARS protest at Ojuelegba/Surulere area of Lagos.
She said she went for a job interview on the day, joining the protest, which was disrupted due to sounds of gunshots, as she returned.
She told the panel: “I ran back toward Area C Police Station in Surulere and I was standing at the other side of the road when policemen started coming out.
“I tried doing a live video on Twitter because of safety, especially as everyone was running for safety.”
Okpara said while she was making the video, a man in a white attire approached her and asked her to stop, adding that when she refused, he tried to snatch her mobile phone.
She said she noticed that he had a gun, indicating he was a policeman.
According to the her, another policeman joined him and told her to follow them.
She added: “I refused and they dragged me and one of the girls, who I was standing with, to the police station.
“I did not resist them, but they were dragging me with force.
“We crossed over to the other side, to the police station, where there were so many policemen and they started beating me.
“This was not ordinary beating.
“They were slapping, punching and kicking me.
”My phone fell down and they smashed my phone because they felt that I wanted to put the video on the internet.
“They dragged me to the police station and continued beating me.
“I lost control of my body.
“I managed not let go of my phone because that was all I had.”
The petitioner said one of the reasons she joined the protest was because she hated police brutality, adding that when she was 12 years old, she and her sister were locked up in a police cell.
She alleged that the beating in Surulere became worse, adding that five female police officers joined in brutalising her and the other lady.
She said she was not allowed to make phone calls or contact her family members, but was told to go to the counter and asked to take off some of her clothes.
Okpara said: “There was no privacy.
“I had to take off my bra in front of a man sitting there.
“After taking off my bra, a policeman who wasn’t satisfied began beating a guy and the other lady with a broken stick.
“He went out and came back with anger and started hitting me with his gun.
“When he realised what he was doing, he started hitting me on my abdomen with his boots.”
Okpara said she was dehumanised by the police personnel.
She said she and the unidentified lady she was arrested with were detained in the police cell.
She said she was asked to make a statement and was taken back to the police cell, adding: “Some other guys were taken upstairs and I saw Desmond Elliot, a man from government and lawyers who came to defend me.
“The man from government who came with Desmond Elliot said a video of two ladies being arrested and brutalised was trending online.
“That was how I got to know about the video.
“Desmond Elliot gave me N6,000 to find my way home.
“It was raining heavily.
“I could not get a taxi.
“I was crying and traumatised.
“I walked to Tejuosho from the police station.”
Okpara added that she had to book a hotel room because she could not get a taxi to take her to her Ikorodu, Lagos home.
She said the police personnel who allegedly assaulted her had yet to be brought to book, adding that orderly room trials that were supposed to take place on October 16 and 30 did not hold.
She said she was given N200,000 by the Divisional Police Officer to take care of her medical expenses.
She said she and the police signed an agreement that the money was for her healthcare and not settlement.
Okpara, through her lawyer, tendered some photographs, medical reports and her damaged Nokia phone to the panel as exhibits.
Justice Doris Okuwobi adjourned the case until December 4 for further hearing.