“They destroyed all our houses; beat me and my children mercilessly’’
…..Few months after he was brutally arrested, have his house and family scattered by the Nigerian police from the force headquarters in Abuja, Glory Ikponmwosa is now a guest of the Directorate of Secret Service, DSS in Edo state Command.
Ikponmwosa, the chairman of Okaighele group, a community development association in Benin, capital city of Edo state was picked up on 2nd December, 2021 by the DSS at a junction located near Army Check point, Benin/Auchi Road, Benin city, Edo State. He was taken to his house and later detained at the Edo DSS office. The DSS also arrested and detained vice chairman of the youth group, Orobosa Williams Eruse. They are said to have remained in detention without being allowed to communicate with their families.
The wife of the detained youth leader, Faith Ikponmwosa in a chat with our correspondent narrated how her home was violently raided by the Nigerian security operatives in August 8th and on the 2nd December, 2021. “We live in perpetual fear now because the police that came in August and the DSS that just arrested my husband were not friendly at all. They were very brutal. They destroyed all our houses; beat me and my children mercilessly’’
According to her, “I was not at home when the DSS came because ever since the police attack in August, we have been receiving threats here and there sometimes by people who masked and peep into our compound. We have sensed we are into a serious danger. I was in my shop when the DSS came two Thursdays ago; my children were at home when they dragged in their dad and started molesting them. They vandalized all our television sets, chairs, fridges and other valuables. They even took away our properties including my clothes. As I speak to you, I’m leaving on borrowed clothes. We don’t even have food to eat at home. Our situation is so terrified and pathetic”, Mrs Ikpomwosa who appealed to government and civil society to rise up in their defense added that she has not been allowed to see or speak with her husband since he was arrested two weeks ago.
Bright Oviasogie, Secretary of Okaighele wonders why his group who has been contributing to the peaceful co-existence of their community suddenly becomes enemy of the security agencies. “The members of the Okaighele were in shock with the outright impunity exhibited by the DSS squad that invaded community youths homes, beat up their wives, smashed their cars and looted their valuables, turned their homes upside down and forcefully arrested and detained the chairman and his vice”.
Counsel to the detained youth leaders, Hope Iyare told our correspondent that his clients’ fundamental rights are been abused by the DSS operatives. He stated that he has filled application to their bails but appears the DSS are bent at inflicting punitive measures on the youth leaders.
“My clients were arrested in December 2, four days after their arrest; the DSS sought court order to detain them for additional 14 days. They claimed a petition was written against them, alleging them of being criminals, kidnappers and armed robber. Although, the 14 days remains few days to lapse but the DSS has refused to charge them to court or grant them bail”
Sources confided in our correspondent in Benin City that Ovbokhan Ediae who’s a former CDA Chairman and an alleged notorious murder suspect currently facing murder case wrote the petition on which the DSS acted.
It was gathered that early this year, Ovbokhan wrote similar petition to the Nigeria Police force which led to the arrest of Glory Ikpomwosa and vandalization of his house on the 8th, August, 2021. His four vehicles and other valuables were also taken away. IKpomwosa was detained for weeks at the force headquarters in Abuja but later released without being charged.
After thorough investigation into the petition against Ikpemwosa and his subsequent release from the police custody, A Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr Joseph Egbunike was said to have reprimanded the police officers who arrested and detained Glory Ikponmwosa.
Findings depicts DIG Joseph as a thoroughbred professional police officer at the Force Headquarters in Abuja who was said to have further instructed the officers to return the money and the four cars removed from Ikpomwosa’s house in Benin. It was said that N250, 000 was returned with three cars as at the time of filling this report. Ikpomwosa’s relatives narrated that one of his cars and N550.000 are still with the police till date
Friends and associates of Ikpemwosa alleged that DSS head of operations, Mr Zakari Muhammed is hobnobbing with a suspected criminal, Ovbokhan Ediae and others to infringe on fundamental rights of the youths group who was said to have initially exposed alleged corrupt lifestyle of the disbanded CDA (Community Development Association)
A source who pleads not to be mentioned added that “Mr. Ovbokhan with Hon. Matthew Ikhide whom he illegally sold the community lands measuring 800 by 1000 hectares to after the Edo State House of Assembly passed a law disbanding the CDA”
The source continued “Zakari Mohammed embarked on the illegal operation because Hon Mathew Ikhide gave him 10 plots of land as a compensation for vandalizing and looting community youth leaders houses”.
“It’s a known fact that Mr Zakari Muhammed has landed property across the seven Local Government Area in Edo South Senatorial District as a result of his unprofessional conduct and corrupt inclination”, he alleged.
Mr Zakari is said to have spent a total of twenty two years in Benin DSS office. This according to sources may be unconnected to his fraternal relationships with suspected criminals and the recent allegation against him as the youth group appeals to DSS authority to beam searchlight on the activities and lifestyle of Edo DSS Head of Operation. The youths alleged that Zakari has been using his powerful connection in Abuja to return himself back to Edo State each time he’s posted out of the State.
Our correspondent was at the DSS office in Edo on Tuesday but was disappointed as the personnel who attended to him could not react to the issues raised.
Peter Afunanya, DSS Spokesman also did not pick calls or respond to series of messages sent to his mobile line.
When contacted Zakari Mohammed, the Edo DSS Head of Operation declined to confirm his identity or react to text messages sent to him. Even when multiple sources, including true caller confirmed his mobile line, Zakari when he eventually picked call simply said “You are calling a wrong number. I’m not Zakari Mohammed”.