Officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on September 18 brutalised a shop owner, shave his hair and stuffed it into his mouth, the victim and a rights group have said.
The trader, Abdullahi Ibrahim, told PREMIUM TIMES that he was brutalised based on his stance on a mobile phone charger purchased by a civil defence official in Gombe.
Mr. Ibrahim said he refused to replace the accessory, valued at N1,500, after selling it to Bala Yayari, an Assistant Superintendent of the Corps, who later claimed it was defective.
Mr. Ibrahim, 25, runs a phone accessories shop at Arawa Market in Gombe town. He said he refused to accede to the officer’s request for replacement because his shop assistant, who sold the Infinix phone charger, tested and certified the accessory as okay before the officer left with it.
“Later, the officer returned with the same charger and asked my assistant to replace it. But my assistant insisted that the charger was functional when the officer bought it,” he said.
“Then the officer asked for the owner of the shop. They called me on the phone and he asked me to come to the shop immediately or else he would close down the shop.”
The trader added that before he “arrived at the shop, the officer had phoned two men of the NSCDC who came in mufti.
“As soon as I arrived, they asked me to give them N1500 or replace the phone charger. I told them I am not aware of the transaction but they should allow me confirm from my assistant.
“After my assistant briefed me about the transaction, I told them that since the device was tested before the officer paid, there was no way we could replace it.”
The refusal of the trader to return the money later turned sour as the security officials would not accept such.
“It was at that moment that the two men held me by my waist, dragged and bundled me into their waiting Peugeot 406 car and took me to the Gombe Division of the NSCDC,” he told PRMEIUM TIMES
“At the division, Mr. Yayari directed that the officers on duty to lock me up. Even before I could be taken behind the counter, one of the officials slapped me.
“As soon as I was thrown behind the counter, one of them ordered me to remove my shirt. He started flogging me even before I undressed and he continued flogging me until I sustained severe injuries.
“The official later brought out a scissors and asked me to kneel down and he shaved off the hair on my head as well as my beard. He then ordered me to gather the hairs and put them in my pocket, which I did.
“The officers then asked me to hold my ears while still kneeling down. Then they asked me to give them the N1500. One of them forced his hand into my pockets and located the money in it. He removed only N1500 and returned the rest to me.
“Finally they asked me to frog jump out of the premises” Mr. Abdullahi narrated.
The victim, who said he wants justice, said his family members reported the matter to the police before he was taken to the Gombe Specialists Hospital for treatment.
ACTIVISTS SEEK JUSTICE
A group of activists in the state said it was taking the matter to court because the NSCDC officer is allegedly “notorious for such flagrant abuse of official power”.
“We took up the matter and visited the state headquarters of NSDC to lodge a complaint”, Mr. Hashidu told PREMIUM TIMES.
“Even though the state commandant said he was investigating the matter, we are taking it to court because this is a glaring case of gross abuse”.
“This officer is not even serving here in Gombe but in Shongom Local Government Area. He is notorious for using his office to exploit and maltreat innocent civilians. We have another case against him and we will soon take the matter before the state commandant” he said.
Mr. Yayari could not be reached for comments as officials at the Gombe command of the NSCDC said he was being investigated.
However, the commandant of the Corps in Gombe State, Shem Sunday, said his command was investigating the incident.
“We are aware of the incident and we have since issued a query to the officer, Bala Yayari (ASC) on the allegations levelled against him and we are also investigating the matter.
“Anyone found guilty will be sanctioned in accordance to the law,” Mr. Sunday told PREMIUM TIMES.