A complainant at the IIP-SARS, Joseph Bassey Arikpo Esq. on Tuesday told the panel how DPO in Ikom, Cross River State Command, SP Solomon Danja threw several punches on him for asking that a detainee in his station, Mr. Friday Ogbor be allowed access to his relations.
Mr. Arikpo said that before the DPO allegedly descended on him with punches, he had reminded him of detainee’s right to personal liberty and dignity of the human person, ” following which the DPO got infuriated and called me a stupid man while beckoning on an officer standing by to accompany me out”.
Arikpo narrated to the panel that he told the DPO that he would take exception to the word, stupid and rather replied that he was not a stupid man but a “legal practitioner soliciting the release of his client”.
While about to leave his office, the DPO allegedly rushed menacingly and threw punches at him while also reiterating that he (Arikpo) was stupid.
Continuing, he said while trying to run for his dear life, the DPO ordered that the gate of the police station is locked and that thereafter the DPO used teargas on him and resumed the punches.
The complainant who said he is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikom Branch, stated that while he managed to dodge one of the punches from the DPO, he fell down on the floor and that resulted in more police officers coming to beat him mercilessly.
The legal practitioner told the panel that after his statement was obtained in recording despite his objection to it, the DPO allegedly came in again with officers wielding batons and horse whip, asking that he be handcuffed to the back, while commencing another round of beating, whipping and name calling.
After some days of detention in the police station, he informed the panel that he was reluctantly released on 9th of November, 2020 through the intervention of the elders of the NBA, Ikom Branch after some other counsel made fruitless efforts to get the police to release him.
Asked on what he wants the panel to do for him, he requested for the dismissal from the police force and prosecution of Solomon Danja, the DPO for assaulting him “he is not fit and proper to be an officer in the Nigerian Police Force”.
He prayed the panel to order that the DPO should pay him (petitioner) the sum of N20m as compensation for the assault.
In addition, he sought for an order of the panel mandating an apology approved by the NBA and published in two (2) national dailies.
Meanwhile counsel to the police, James Idachaba confirmed to the panel that Solomon Danja, the DPO, Ikom, Cross River State Command was not present at the panel.
The matter was adjourned till 15th of April, 2021 for the police to ensure the presence of the DPO at the panel.