Personnel of the Nigeria Police Force in the Awgu local government area of Enugu State have allegedly detained a nursing mother, Mrs Chinenye Nwachukwu and her three-month-old baby, in a cell for two days.
This comes after two women reportedly attacked and beat her up in her house.
The policemen led by one ASP Vincent Oke Ezea, also arrested and detained her husband, Mr Tochukwu Nwachukwu for three days after the wife and baby were released.
It reportedly took the intervention of youths in Ohaji Awgu to get them out of the police cell. Meanwhile, they reportedly parted with N20,000 as bail money before they were released.
According to Mr Nwachukwu, who spoke to KOKO TV NG on Wednesday, the money was paid into ASP Vincent Oke Ezea’s personal account with number: 3059407550 domiciled with First Bank Plc under the account name: Oke Vincent Ezea.
The money was reportedly paid on September 1, 2023, by Mr Nwachukwu’s in-law.
The couple who hail from Amaokwe Awgu but live in Ohaji Awgu, decried the high level of intimidation, extortion and harassment by policemen attached to the Awgu Police Division.
They called on police authorities to investigate the Divisional Police Officer, CSP Benjamin Ugwui, who they accused of supervising human rights violations and extortion in the division.
Narrating the incident, Mrs Nwachukwu described her arrest and detention, alongside her three-month-old baby as intimidation because they “are poor and cannot fight back”.
She lamented “till today, I don’t know what I did that warranted the kind of maltreatment the police that are supposed to protect the weak meted out to my family”.
“I was locked up with my three-month-old baby in the police cell for two days,” she said.
Giving details of what led to the incident, she said: “I don’t remember the date but it was in August. I was in my house when two women came and started fighting me while I was with my baby. I don’t have a good relationship with one of them but I don’t know what they had discussed that warranted them to come to attack me in my house.
“I was in my house when the two women came and I went inside and they rushed inside my room. They started hurling insults at me and calling me unprintable names. When I asked them to leave my room and my house, they started beating me even though I was with my baby.
“The one I don’t have a good relationship with then bit my breast and I responded by biting her face. After assaulting me and my baby, they left and called the police to arrest me the following morning.
“The police detained me with my baby for two days. My baby fell sick inside the cell. Meanwhile, the police didn’t ask me what happened; they sent the woman who bit me to the hospital with a police medical report but locked me and my child inside the cell.
“So, after spending two days in the police cell, I was released after they collected N20,000 from my husband. They (the police) initially insisted that my husband would pay N40,000 to bail me and my baby out. Because my baby was sick, they accepted N20,000 from my husband and released us.
“After we left the police station, my husband took us to the hospital for treatment. The following day when we returned from the hospital, the policemen came again, this time they arrested my husband.”
She added, “The policemen claimed that they were arresting my husband because he refused to come back to the station after getting us out on bail and that they had called him several times on the phone to get across to him.
“They claimed the husband of the woman who attacked me in my house was at the station and he wanted my husband to come so that they could settle the matter but he didn’t come at the time.”
Corroborating the wife’s account, Mr Nwachukwu said, “They first charged me N40,000 after detaining them for two days and agreed to accept N20,000 after they noticed that my baby was sick in the cell.”
Narrating how he was detained after he took his wife and little child to the hospital, Mr Nwachukwu said, “The following day after we came back from the hospital, the policemen came and asked me to bring out my wife but I told them that she and my baby were still recuperating. It was around 5 a.m. in the morning.
“It was the same time they came and arrested my wife and the baby; they did not allow her to feed the baby before taking them to their station. They starved the baby until around noon when they allowed them to eat the food I had brought to them.
“I came back from work and my house was locked; I did not see my family. I started looking for them, it was around 8 p.m. When I found them, she told me that two women had come and fought her inside my house and wounded her. Because it was already in the night, I told her that I would take her to the hospital in the morning and also report the incident to the community. Unfortunately, in the early hours of the morning, policemen came and said we were under arrest. When asked what we did, they said that my wife injured somebody.
“They took my wife and baby and locked them in their cell. When I asked what I should do, they said I should go to the hospital and see the person she injured. I went to the hospital. After that, I came back to the police station and asked them what I should do. They did not respond to me till in the night. My wife and the babe slept in the cell.
“The following day, I came back and started begging them but they did not talk to me. When they finally agreed to release her and my baby, they asked me to bring N40,000. I told them that I didn’t have that kind of money and pleaded with them to collect N20,000 which was after they had slept for two days in the cell.
“After they were released, I took them straight to the hospital. So, while we were in the hospital, the police were calling me to come back to the station and I told them that I would be at the station, that I took my wife and her baby to the hospital. And that I could not leave them. I said I would be at the station immediately after they had been discharged.
“The next morning, they came to my house and said I should provide my wife or follow them. I told them that since my wife and her baby were sick, I would go to their station after taking care of them. The policemen said no that I must follow them. As we were still talking, they held me by the waist and started dragging me.”
“So I begged them to allow me to wear some clothes before following them, but they refused. My neighbours came and started begging me to leave that I did not commit any crime and that they should allow me to wear my clothes. Then they allowed me to wear my clothes. I followed them to the station and when we got there, they accused me of fighting them in my house which was not true. They detained me for three days,” he added.
Meanwhile, efforts to speak to the spokesperson for the state police command, DSP Daniel Ndukwe, were unsuccessful as he did not answer his calls.
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