An international artiste, Victor Essiet of the Mandators Group, has narrated how operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad allegedly tortured him while he was preparing for a concert at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
He said during his ordeal, his private parts were pulled by four of the 20 man squad, who also cut through his fingers and legs with shackles.
The singer said the harassment and torture cost him his November music festival which he said he invested about N200m in.
The musician, who is popular for his reggae songs campaigning against apartheid, said he would be asking for N1bn compensation for the injuries he suffered.
He said, “On November 29, 2014, I was at the National Stadium with my team. We were to hold a festival there tagged, ‘Africa meets reggae and world music international festival’. We were putting finishing touches on the stage equipment and other settings when I decided to go and change into my stage outfit and get ready for the concert.
“I was in the van I rented, together with one of my workers and a driver. We were driving out of the stadium to the hotel where we lodged which was nearby when I saw some men wielding guns and ordering people to stop all movements.
“I was scared because of the way they were doing. Suddenly, they swooped on my van and hit the driver and pushed him out of the van. While I was still trying to understand what was going on, they injured the worker with me and took him out too.
“Then they started beating me. They opened the main door and other people were hitting the van with guns. They vandalised the van that we hired. After beating me, they brought out shackles and at this point I was really scared because I didn’t know where they wanted to take me to. Some of them were pulling at my private parts very hard and I was shouting and screaming. They pulled the shackles and they cut deep into my legs. People thought they were armed robbers and there was chaos everywhere.”
He said, however, a few of his courageous friends moved to the scene, as the armed men threatened to shoot at anyone who came close to them.
However, as the men insisted on knowing the identity of the armed men, he claimed that was when the officials revealed that they were from SARS.
Essiet alleged that despite the appeals, “they drove me away and drank Red Label in the car like people who were possessed as they kept saying they were going to kill me. We almost hit people about four times on the road. And they told me nobody could interfere with what SARS does.
“When I got to their office, they told me they drink people’s blood and kill suspects every day. That evening, I heard several gunshots and one of them came and said they just wasted (killed) some people like me. He said if not for my popularity, they would have killed me too and nothing would have happened.”
He said he spent two days in SARS custody, adding that he spent a few weeks in the hospital to recover from his injuries.
On the reason for the attack, Essiet said a man had petitioned SARS that he had defrauded him of some money.
He added that after the officials later investigated, they discovered the money was sent to a company with which he had no affiliation and hence released him.
Essiet, however, refused to give our correspondent pictures of the alleged torture, saying they were his evidence in court.
His lawyer, Charles Lambo of Alao, Lambo and Co. said he had prepared court documents to sue the police for N1bn.
He said, “We have filed papers and we are suing the police for N1bn. This is because he lost some earnings from the show he organised and his fundamental human rights have been breached. We believe we will get justice at the end of the day.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, however denied the allegation, saying he was only arrested.
He said, “He was arrested on the strength of a petition somebody wrote against him of obtaining money under false pretences. He was interviewed by SARS and even the operation commander, attended to him. He obtained some money to buy some trucks for somebody and that was why he was arrested. After his statements were taken, he was granted bail with credible sureties. And the matter is still on.”