Amaka Anorue, a student of the Federal Polytechnic in Nekede, Owerri, Imo State, has accused police officers in the state of extorting and flogging her and her friends who were celebrating the completion of their academic programmes.
She said officers attached to the Anti-Kidnapping Squad, Tiger Base, Owerri, accused them of being cultists belonging to the proscribed Eastern Security Network (ESN), detained them for two days and whipped them with wire before extorting N1.5 million from them.
Speaking with FIJ, she narrated how on the night of Tuesday, January 25, she and 12 of her friends met at a lounge in Owerri, the state capital, to celebrate the end of their academic programmes at the polytechnic.
They had just written their last examination and decided to cool off.
“A guy among us got ‘weed’, and about two guys were smoking with him. They later left,” Anorue told FIJ. “Then we saw police men numbering about 10 with guns shouting at us.
“They ordered us to lie down, took our phones and took us to their station. We were three girls and 10 guys. They whipped us with wire after finding the weed and said we were cultists because we wore black jeans and white signed t-shirts. Three people wore black berets.”
She said they were taken to the station where they were stripped and put in a cell. Two days later, they were released, but not until each of the 10 boys paid N150,000, a sum totaling N1.5 million.
Anorue said she did not partake in the use of the banned substance, and did not even know the men who smoked it.
“They never gave us our phones while we were there. They tagged us ESN terrorists in our statements, and the guys bailed themselves with about N150,000 each,” Anorue said.
She also said she met a pregnant woman in custody, who was detained because the police were in search of her husband.
When FIJ attempted to reach Mike Abatem, the Imo State Police spokesman, he did not answer calls. At press time, he had not replied to a text message sent to him.