A 28-year old woman, Mercy Okoro, on Monday accused the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ekpan in the Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, SP Asanayin Ibok, of stripping her naked and arresting her widowed mother, Mrs Lucy Okoro, and her sister over a disagreement with their tenant.
Narrating her ordeal to journalists in Warri, Mercy alleged that the incident occurred around 3pm on Friday, January 10, 2020, when the tenant, Andrew Obas, who had refused to pay his three months’ rent, invited the police to their home.
According to Mercy, the tenant had been given four months’ notice to either pay the arrears of the rent or quit his apartment, a notice that elapsed this month.
She stated, “We asked him to pack out. Instead, he brought armed policemen. They shot indiscriminately, dragged my sister on the floor and kicked her. I told the policemen to leave my sister alone. The DPO stripped me naked. He took my wrapper and kicked me on my buttocks.
“The police bundled my sister and I into their patrol van and took us to the station. It was when we got there that I knew that it was the DPO, who attacked me.”
Mercy also alleged that the DPO slapped her at the station till she fell to the ground and fainted, adding that a policewoman behind the counter also sprayed teargas into her eyes.
The victim, who lamented that she was dehumanised by the police, urged the government and human rights organisations in the country to take the matter up with the DPO in the interest of justice, fairness and equity.
Mercy’s mother, who was arrested alongside her daughters, urged the government to help them get justice.
Lucy, who corroborated the claims of her daughter, urged the government to put an end to her harassment by the tenant.
“After owing me three months’ rent, Obas said he would not pay and boasted that he would make trouble with me. That’s why I said he should leave my house with the accumulated rent. I went to court and obtained a month’s notice to quit and served him. After that, I went back to the court, obtained a seven-day notice, which I also served him and which elapsed on Friday, January 10, 2020,” she stated.
Reacting, the DPO, Asanenyi, denied the allegations levelled against him, saying, “What they said is not true.”
He stated that he was not around when the incident happened let alone stripping the young woman naked.
Asanenyi said the decision of the widow and her daughters to lock the gate against their tenant could cause problems.
When contacted on the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa, said a journalist had earlier called him on the matter and he made enquiries and discovered that the allegations were blatant lies.
“It was not even the DPO, because when it happened, the DPO was not even there. We did not record anything like this,” he added.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the Human Rights Defenders Organisation, Casely Omon-Irabor, said the body got a distressed call that a widow was being manhandled over a disagreement with her tenant.
Omon-Irabor stated, “We sent two of our lawyers to go and find out and we discovered that the police stripped the first daughter of the widow. Our lawyers intervened, but the police didn’t listen to them,” she stated.
Omon-Irabor stated that Mercy was beaten and marched on until she fainted.
“Other policemen were begging the DPO to leave the woman alone, but he refused until I told him that I took photographs of the incident and had him on video assaulting the young woman. It was then he said we should settle.
“I called the DPO, who said because I was involved, he was going to set the widow free. He still detained the two girls.”