Living with the aftermath of police brutality: chronicles of survivors


Over the years police brutality in Nigeria has continued unabated across the country, with several persons losing their lives in the process.

Unfortunately, the few victims who have survived police brutality over the years have not recovered from the trauma and the experience.

In this report, Webteam@Ipledge2nigeria Lagos correspondent chronicles the lives of victims of police brutality several years after.

Nine years after the incident that led to his arrest and torture by officers of the Nigerian Police Force, Jafaru Idris a clerical officer in Dobi, Gwagwalada, LGA FCT and a student at the Open University, Abuja has not been the same.

According to Jafaru Idris, who was brutalised by officers in 2014 at Dobi, Gwagwalada, FCT. 2014, “I was attacked by a young man of my age in the village. While defending myself against the unprovoked attack, I injured him. I later learnt that my brother had earlier in the day beaten the elder brother of the young man during a quarrel over political parties’ affiliations.

Unknown to me, the young man and his family had gone to report to the police who later came to arrest me.”

Recounting his ordeals in the hands of the police officers, “I was taken to the police station where I was beaten and at some point, the policemen forced me to put my hands on the floor and they used their “gura” sticks to break my hands which according to them, they would not allow me to use again to injure another person. 

“When my family members eventually paid to secure my release, my hands were to be amputated at the hospital but upon being able to raise the more expensive amount for surgeries, the hands were not amputated. Ever since there have been permanent scars and stitches on my hands (fingers and knuckles) and I cannot properly hold a pen to write legibly and cannot also help my family to carry out farming activities on which we depend for survival. I am ashamed of writing in the presence of people as I always struggle to hold a pen and my handwriting is hardly legible.” 

According to Abubakar Audu, my ordeal started in Dobi, Gwagwalada, area in Federal Capital Territory in 2000 when a land dispute between my family and another family resulted in a physical fight between us. 

“The other family rushed to call the police to arrest me and my brother. When the police came, they beat us mercilessly and we were forcefully taken to Gwagwalada Police Station. I was given what the police called “tie tie treatment”. My hands were tied to my legs at the back and hung on a pole for three days before my release. Upon my release, I suffered a dislocation to my hips and right leg and was rushed to the hospital immediately by family members, but nothing could be done to rectify the dislocation on my hip and right leg. My right leg became paralyzed. I could not stand or move without the aid of a walking stick. It affected my plan and dream to further my education and it also reduced my level of productivity to farm effectively and earn reasonable income to feed my family.” 

Salihu Dazumi got more than he bargained for, for daring to question policemen who came to arrest his brother. He was beaten black and blue and still lives with the trauma of the brutality melted on him by police officers.

According to Salihu Dazumi, my travails began in 1991, when we lived in Paikon, Kore, Gwagwalada. I was living with my parents and siblings in the village, a suburb of FCT. One Saturday afternoon, the police came to our house to arrest my brother who had earlier left the house very early in the morning for the farm.

I politely asked the police officers why they wanted to arrest my brother. Unfortunately, the officers felt insulted and tried arresting me to lure my brother out of wherever he was hiding but I struggled and tried to resist. This infuriated the officers who started beating me with their batons. I received many blows on my left leg and became unconscious. I woke up the following day in the hospital (a Clinic in Paikon-Kore) where after due assessment of the injury to my leg, I was referred to the University Teaching Hospital. My family could not afford the high cost of treatments at the teaching hospital so I was later taken for traditional treatment where I spent about seven years before I could stand but at that point, I had lost the use of the leg.”

However, police brutality is not limited to men alone, as women are not spared from maltreatment.

In 2016 Rita Samuel had a terrible experience at the hands of police officers behind Nasco Office, Bukuru, Jos South, Plateau State.

According to her, I was returning from a trip late in the night, and as I was walking home with my luggage, the police patrol team accosted me and questioned me about why I was on the street late at night. I explained to them that I had to walk home as there were no cabs or motorbikes available at that time of the night. They accused me of late movement, bundled me into their vehicle and took me to their station where I was detained, tortured and injured in one of my eyes. I eventually lost the eye.

Speaking on how the incident has affected her Rita Samuel said, “I have since been living with the stigma of being a one-eyed lady in the community.” 

“The family of my fiancé discouraged him from marrying me because of the eye that I lost and it has been difficult getting another serious relationship since. I am looking up to God to send me a man who will take me as I am. I feel bad that fellow human beings like me have made me an object of ridicule for the rest of my life.”

 Like Rita Samuel, Queen Austin, lost her pregnancy to police brutality in 2019 at Mararaba, Nasarawa State.

According to Queen Austin, I went to a club (City Rock) with a female friend to relax and enjoy ourselves in the evening. Later the police came around 8:00 pm and started arresting every lady that did not come to the club with a man. My friend and I went to sit with the DJ hoping that this would prevent the police from arresting us, but the police still came after us. We questioned the arrest since we were not minors. Rather than explain to us, the policemen started using their sticks called “gura” to beat us and later dragged us into their patrol vehicle. Together with the other ladies arrested, we were taken to the police station where we spent the night. I was granted bail in the evening of the following day. While beating me, the “gura” was used to hit me several times on the side of my stomach and this made me lose my pregnancy (I was about 10 weeks pregnant at the time) and I sustained permanent blackish spots on my hand and stomach which remain till date.” 

“The experience left me with a lifelong scar and the trauma of the miscarriage lives with me. One of my neighbours was also pregnant at about the time of the incident. Whenever I see her baby that would have been my baby’s age if the police had not made me lose my pregnancy, I sometimes get depressed for days.” 

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