A lawyer, Barrister Ajagba Stephen, has been remanded at Kirikiri Prison, Lagos State, for allegedly assaulting a policeman.
Magistrate Owope of Court 5 Ogba, Lagos, remanded the accused over allegation that he allegedly attacked a policeman, Inspector Gbenga Daniel.
Stephen was remanded on a 2 count charge bordering on assault, grievous damage on a police officer and disorderly behaviour, which according to the prosecutor, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ayorinde, contravenes sections 168(D) and 174 of Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015.
When the charges were read to the accused, he pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail in the sum of N200, 000, with one surety.
The surety, however, must be a resident in Lagos State and must also show evidence of tax payment for the last two years.
The accused pleaded with the court to grant him bail on self-recognition. On that note, the Magistrate said that Stephen must deposit originals of his primary school, secondary school, university, National Youth Service Corps certificates and original of his call up letter to the Bar before he could be given bail on self-recognition. The accused, who could not meet his bail conditions, was subsequently remanded in prison.
Our correspondent gathered that trouble for Stephen, started after he went to Merian Police Station to bail a suspect, Stephen Emmanuel, whom police alleged stole a bag belonging to a Federal Road Safety officer in the premises of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).
The bag was said to contain a laptop, phones and some documents. Ironically, Emmanuel didn’t know that his escapades were being captured by the bank’s Close Circuit Television (CCTV).
While police were hunting for him on his first crime, Emmanuel allegedly visited the bank again to steal, but luck ran out on him. He was arrested by the bank’s security personnel and handed over to the Police at Merian.
Emmanuel allegedly confessed to the crime and took the police to Computer village Ikeja, where the receiver of his stolen items was arrested.
A police source said: “As soon as the lawyer came to the station, he started quarrelling with the police for detaining the suspect beyond 24 hours. He didn’t ask why, and all attempts to calm him down was futile. His disturbance at the station prompted the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) to order inspector Gbenga Daniel to obtain his statement under caution. When he was told that his statement was needed, he attempted to run, Daniel had to block him. He pushed Daniel and started to punch him. He was subsequently arrested and charged to court.”
Earlier, before his remand, Stephen spoke exclusively with our correspondent.
Stephen said that the incident occurred when he went to the station to see a client. The client had been detained for over a week. He said that the policeman slapped him five times and treated him like a common criminal.
According to him, when he got to the station, he told the policemen that his client should be granted bail or taken to court. He said that when he made that observation, Daniel became uneasy.
According to him, he made the request in the presence of the DCO, Daniel and other policemen. But it was only Daniel that told him in a threatening manner to move far away from him.
Stephen said: “Perhaps after hearing what Daniel said, the DCO also became hostile. He asked, “Who is this mad man?” He was referring to me. I responded that I was not a mad man. The same Daniel stood up and held my tie. He asked me, “Do you know that you’re a suspect?” I thought he was joking. Before I knew what was happening, he slapped me. He slapped me again on the left side of my face. I told him that what he was doing was wrong.
As I was talking to him, he kept slapping me; in fact, he slapped me five times.
“When he released me, I brought out my phone to take pictures of his handprints on my face; the DCO took my phone from me. I believed it was a gang up against me. As if that was not enough, Daniel held my tie, dragged me to the counter and said that I was detained.”
Stephen said that after Daniel slapped him, he was locked up for 24 hours and arraigned in court for assaulting police officers.
Stephen’s lawyer, Mr. Justice Uhuegbe, said that it was quite an unfortunate incident. He said that his client’s encounter with the policemen highlighted abuses and police brutality against citizens of Nigeria.
Uhuegbe said: “The policemen beat him up. He was slapped several times. In Nigeria today, everyone is talking about human rights and rule of law, how can such a thing continue to happen in some police stations?
The question now is, are we still in the democratic dispensation? And if such thing could happen to a lawyer, one wonders what ordinary citizens would be going through in the hands of policemen.”
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