From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Edo State Police Command and Edo Vigilante Network are on collision course over alleged maltreatment of two policemen who were accused of dealing in India hemp.
The two policemen were seen in a viral video apprehended by operatives of the vigilante for possession of Indian hemp, handcuffed together and were interrogated. They also had other vehicles they were driving, which they said belonged to a friend.
One of the vigilante was heard saying that the policemen would be handed over to the men of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as the policemen demanded to the treated gently while they were being led away.
The Vigilante led by John Osasere Ohonba alias Awilo, also expressed surprise that some of the items that were identified as exhibits were in possession of the policemen and not at the station.
But in a statement yesterday, the spokesman of the state Police Command, SP Bello Kontongs, said the narrative being peddled by Awilo and his men is false.
“The attention of Edo State Police Command has been drawn to a viral video where two Policemen (Drivers) in mufti attached to State Highway Patrol, Edo State Police Command, were handcuffed, physically brutalized and tortured by members of Vigilante Group led by one John Osasere Ohonba alias Awilo.
“Contrary to the false and malicious narrative by Awilo and his group that the two Policemen were suspected drug dealers and connivers with an alleged suspect, Ikpefua Idowu, in custody of the group, facts of the incident is that the two Policemen went to Vigilante office with one Lucky and his girlfriend to merely seek the whereabout of Ikpefua Idowu who was arrested by Awilo and his group.
“Not minding the fact that the policemen introduced themselves and were identified by Awilo and his group, Awilo did not only order that the Policemen be physically assaulted, it was evidenced in the viral video that Mr. Awilo who wore a red jacket initiated and participated actively in the attack.
“It is pertinent at this juncture to convey that it is a known fact to Mr. Awilo and his group that the vehicle, Lexus RX330 SUV captured in the viral video belong to Lucky, a brother to the detained Ikpefua Idowu in the custody of Awilo and his Vigilante Group on whose behalf the Policemen went to sort for.
“It is incontrovertible therefore that the items allegedly found in the vehicle wouldn’t have in any way belong to the Policemen as falsely projected in the viral video. It belongs to Lucky.
“It is necessary to further state that the mission of the Policemen was merely fact finding which Awilo and his group considered a distraction and unfortunately unleashed unnecessary attack on them. This has presently necessitated admission of the men in hospital having been diagnosed of internal hemorrhage.
“In light of the foregoing, the actions and claims of Mr. Awilo and his group is considered unacceptable and a bid to falsely vilify and disparage the Command. However, it is the position of the Command that the claims of Mr. Awilo and his gang in the viral video be discountenanced and considered as mere fabrications.
“The Commissioner of Police, Edo State has ordered investigation into the incidence”, Kotongs added.
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