SARS victim alive, not shot but fell out of police van, says Keyamo
Motorists lament harrowing experience on Benin-Ore-Lagos highway
Following the widespread angst towards the operations of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) after a video went viral at the weekend of how a young man was assaulted and allegedly killed in Delta State by SARS officials, the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, yesterday said the man is alive.
Keyamo, who said he contacted the victim’s brother and the state Commissioner of Police, added that the officers involved in the incident are not SARS but ‘Operation Delta Safe’ cops.
There was outrage on Saturday when clips surfaced on Twitter where a witness claimed the young man was gunned down by SARS operatives who also fled with the victim’s car.
But reacting in a series of tweets on Sunday, Keyamo said he had spoken with the police authorities in the area and also with a family member of the victim who confirmed he’s alive and receiving treatment.
“All of them said the victim is alive and receiving treatment. While I totally condemn the extra-judicial killings by SARS and other police outfits against defenseless citizens and call for comprehensive reforms and overhaul of the system, some facts of this case are as follows:
“(a) The outfit involved in this case is called Operation Delta Safe and not SARS (b) the victim was not shot as confirmed by his brother, but fell out of the police vehicle when being taken to the station after arrest. The brother said he was pushed; the police said he jumped.
“The police stopped to pick him up after the fall, but an angry mob had already gathered and the police fled and left the victim. A Good Samaritan picked him and took him to hospital.”
MEANWHILE, some motorists plying the Benin-Lagos highway on Sunday lamented the ordeal they are faced with daily in the hands of policemen, alleging extortion and other misconduct at checkpoints.
A transporter who confided in The Guardian said the activities of the security operatives have become worrisome following the way and manner they stop and search vehicles and make unnecessary demands from transporters plying the roads.
According to him, from Okada Junction in Edo State to UNIBEN main gate, the police checkpoints are not out to do stop-and-search duties, but have turned the spots to tollgates where they allegedly demand money from motorists and commuters suspected to be Yahoo boys.
He said the development had forced many motorists to get into confrontation with security personnel on the road sometimes, not minding the risk of doing so, which may result in unpleasant consequences.
Reacting to the development in a telephone interview, the Officer-in-Charge of SARS in Edo State, Mr. Rex Makanju, condemned the action and denied any involvement of his men in the illicit activities on the highway, promising that any officer found wanting would be sanctioned.