Some lawless police officers in Akwa Ibom State descended on a group of orphans protesting the non-payment of their late parent's gratuities.
Punch reports that apart from brutalizing the protesters who are said to be the children and next of kin of late primary school teachers in the state, three of them were arrested while one of them was beaten to coma as the police chased them away from the areas around the Government House and adjoining streets.
It was gathered that the police were acting on a directive given to them by an Assistant Commissioner of Police in the state, C. Abibo, who reportedly ordered his officers and men to beat up the protesters.
Eyewitnesses said that the leader of the protesters, Benjamin Benson, was attacked by about five policemen who descended on him, tearing his clothes to shreds.
The police were also said to have used tear gas canisters and an Armoured Personnel Carrier to disperse the orphans who numbered about 100, while also threatening to shoot and beat up the journalists who were on the ground to cover the protest if they report their actions.
The reports quoted ACP Abibo as saying:
“Beat up these people; if you cannot beat them; let me beat them myself.”
The spokesman for the group, Aniekan Thompson, said the families of the dead teachers had obtained letters of administration from the court and had been screened by the State Universal Basic Education Board since 2010, which gave them clearance slips for payment, and wondered why the police should take the laws into their hands and brutalize them in the manner they did.
“They beat us up mercilessly, you need to see how they beat and bundled our colleagues – Enobong Kenneth, Benjamin Benson, and Utibe – into their vehicle like criminals.
We asked them for our rights, but the government and the police were accusing us of being sponsored by the All Progressives Congress.
90% of us are card-carrying members of the People’s Democratic Party. We belong to different groups that ensured the victory of the present Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel,” he said.
However, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Cordelia Nwawe, has denied any molestation of the protesters, adding that said she was not aware of the protest. She stated that the protesters did not inform the police.