The torture and detention of a female lawyer in Onitsha Anambra State who went to secure the bail of a client is unsettling the legal community in Nigeria this moment.
Chiamaka Nwangwu, a lawyer based in Onitsha, Anambra State,East of the Niger has also claimed that the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Onitsha branch has conceded and supported the Police during the bail negotiation to force her into writing an apology letter to the same people that abused her.
Courtroom mail put a call across to Ikenna Chibuzor,the Chairman of Onitsha branch and he informed Courtroom mail that he was not present when the so called apology letter was written.According to him,he negotiated her bail and left and the news that an apology letter was written comes as a surprise to him.He said he will not comment further on the incident until after the branch meeting on Friday 26th of January.
Courtroom mail got back to Chiamaka who said that the apology letter was part of the negotiation the Chairman made on her behalf before leaving her behind at the Police Station to sort out the remaining.She told Courtroom mail that the police threatened to shoot or poison her if she spent a night at the station so she decided to write the letter so that she will come out to put up a fight against the police.
Speaking with other lawyers in Onitsha about the incident,they informed courtroom mail that the DPO has a history of harassing Lawyers who come to the station to represent their clients.
The statement released by Chiamaka about her experience is below
HOW I WAS TORTURED, DETAINED BY A DPO, POLICEMEN IN ANAMBRA FOR SEEKING THE BAIL OF MY CLIENT
By Chiamaka Nwangwu Esq.
My Colleague in Abuja called me and pleaded with me to go to 3-3, Police Station Division, Nkwelle Ezunaka, Anambra State, on the 22nd day of January, 2018, to help his younger brother who was about making a Statement there; according to my Colleague, his younger brother was beaten up by his Landlord and boys.
When I got to there around 10am, I met the young Man making a statement at the IPO’s office, I approached him and asked me what exactly happened and he narrated everything to me. He told me that his Landlord came a made a statement against him on the 21st night and I was also informed by his Parents that his Landlord has been with the DCO1, since 6am. I went to the office of the DCO1 and saw a man wearing a brown native cloth, without even knowing that he is the Landlord, I politely briefed the DCO1 and he told me that they are investigating the matter and we got talking from there. He also told me that if I am not satisfied with their investigations, I could transfer the matter to State CID or Area Command.
I also called the DCO2, met him outside and asked him if the DPO came to work that day, he told me that he was not around that morning but may come to work later. I called my mom on the Phone and told her about the matter I came for, as soon as we finished speaking on the Phone, I came in and saw the young man I came for, behind the counter and I signaled to him, he told me that the IPO and DCO1 asked him to stay there, I went out again to make some calls, came in again to meet the young man complaining the part of his body where he was beaten by his landlord was seriously bringing out pores and disturbing him, I told him sorry and went further to tell him that he would have taken an injection immediately after he was beaten, that it was very risky leaving it till the next day.
A huge woman on native clothes, who I later learned is Jane Mbanefo, the DPO became very aggressive and ordered me to leave the admin office. NOTE: I didn’t know their DPO and have never seen her before, it was my first time of coming to that Police Station. She started shouting at me, asking me my interest in the matter and who I was to tell the boy that I came for on the kind of treatment he would get, I was very shocked and embarrassed. I was angry and on my way out of the admin office, when the woman continued talking, insulting lawyers generally, telling me that she is equally a Lawyer of 20yrs Post call.
She slapped me and one of the handle of my recommended glasses disfigured and fell off, other junior Police Officers joined hands and beat me up mercilessly. My black gown was torn and I was stripped naked, I managed to get my Phone out of my handbag to record and video the scene, but one of the Policewomen, took my Gionee A1Phone from my hand, smashed it and siezed it. My middle finger was broken and I sustained internal injuries. People were watching outside including the young boy I came for, his mom and dad.
I was detained at the Police Station and was asked to write a statement. Another Policeman slapped me and threatened that he would send his juniors to beat me up, before pushing me in the cell, while another Policewoman who just came in then, slapped me and pushed me, from the counter. She said she would have done worse if she were the other Policewomen that beat me up.
I was asked to write a statement, when my client’s dad brought my bag from the scene where the incident took place and I discovered that #5,000 was missing from my handbag. They also threatened to shoot me or poison me if I sleep in the cell, till the next day. I made a statement and was thrown inside the Cell for about 6hrs before my Parents were contacted, with my NBA Chairman, my Principal and I later learned that the DPO fabricated stories against me saying that I slapped her and took their walkie talkie away.
When I was in the Cell, some Police Officers were forcing the person I came to see to write down implicating statements about me, but the young boy raised his voice and took his ground that they should rather shoot him to death instead of him making such statement,that they beat me up and stripped me naked for nothing ;he vehemently refused They later took me from the Cell to the DPO’s office and the NBA Chairman turned to me and said that she heard a nasty report about me and I told them they were all lies, in the presence of my Father, Mother, my Principal and another Senior Lawyer, I narrated everything that happened in front of them but my NBA Chairman didn’t even allow me to finish wasn’t allowed to finish because he turned to me and said “If I were you, I should not be talking”, my mother asked me to keep calm and I did. He did not even bother to check my smashed phone which was before him.
My NBA Chairman asked me to go out of the office, and the IPO took me back to the Counter. After my NBA Chairman finished discussing with the DPO, he asked her what could be done for peace to reign and the DPO insisted I must write an apology letter of which the NBA Chairman agreed and made his final decision. I was forced to write an apology letter afterwards before I could leave the cell of which I did after much pressure from my Mother who is very sick and could not stand her only daughter sleeping over in the cell, especially after I was threatened by the DPO and her juniors.
I was released after I wrote the apology letter thrice which the DCO dictated to me. The DCO2 was the person that dictated all the contents in the letter with the help of the female IPO in charge. NOTE: I heard when my NBA Chairman told the DPO that I am the 5th Legal Practitioner that reported to the NBA that I was beaten up in their Police station.
I have never experienced this type of thing as a Legal Practitioner and if something is not done, this impunity will continue. Police are meant to protect the citizens and not to turn them into Punch bags. Note : I told the DPO and other Officers involved that I MUST report this matter to the appropriate authority.
Up till now, I am still unable to understand why NBA Chairman conceded to my writing an apology letter? Why did he not inspect my Phone which was smashed, that was placed on the DPO’s table, right before his eyes?
Attached are some photographic evidence and a medical report of my ordeal.
I demand justice.
By Chiamaka Nwangwu Esq.