Woman in coma after she was brutalised by policemen


A woman in Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Philomena Olawunmi, who had been in coma for three days after she was hit with the butt of a gun by a policeman, has regained consciousness.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Philomena, who owns a shop at 10, Bassey Akpan Street, Etoi, Uyo, was in coma for three days after she was attacked by a policeman.

It was gathered that a team of policemen attached to the Petroleum Taskforce at Osong Omah Estate in Uyo was invited by a driver with the Niger Delta Development Commission, who allegedly rammed into the woman’s shop on February 12.

Our correspondent learnt that some customers who were in the woman’s shop were furious and challenged the driver for driving recklessly.

The bus driver, who was suspected to be drunk, allegedly slapped one of the customers, Mr. Emmanuel Lawal, for challenging him.

Lawal, it was learnt, retaliated and that resulted in a fight between the two men. The NDDC’s driver was said to have invited the policemen to the scene.

Philomena said, “I heard a bang and quickly rushed out to see through a narrow entrance whether the men who were drinking outside the shop were affected by the accident or not. But I could only see the bus that rammed into the shop. I did not see anybody. But some of the customers, shouted to tell me that they were alive and that had only sustained minor injuries.

“When my husband, Mr. Ajibola Olawunmi, came, I told him that it was an accident. He asked if anybody had been killed or injured. I told him ‘no’ and that two of the men who were drinking only sustained minor injuries. Then, my husband asked the driver to go so that people would not continue to gather around the shop to incite unnecessary tension.

“As I was explaining the matter to my husband, one of the customers asked the driver to accept his fault; the driver then walked up to the customer and slapped him. When Lawal told him that he is an elderly man and would not like to engage in a brawl with him, the driver slapped him again.

 “At this point, my husband asked the man to stop beating his brother. But before he knew it, the driver also slapped my husband twice. My husband and the driver began to struggle. When the driver freed himself, he brought out his telephone and called the three riot policemen.

“When the policemen arrived, they did not find out what happened. Rather, they descended on my husband and me. One of them used the butt of the gun to hit me on my head. That was the last thing I could remember.”

Ajibola said after his wife collapsed, the policemen further brutalised him, adding that some residents of the area later rushed them to a hospital.

 Ajibola said, “They first moved my wife to a private hospital, Dominic Private Hospital, Ekpri Nsukara, Nwaniba, Uyo. But when they could not revive her, she was taken to the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. She was revived after three days – that was on Wednesday.

“None of the policemen could wait and see what they had done. Instead, they cocked their guns and threatened to shoot everybody, jumped into their van and sped off.”

An eyewitness, Mr. Albert Bassey, said the action of the policemen showed that they were heartless and uncivilised.

“This is something we should not condone in this country. This is gross abuse of human rights; we must not continue to live with it. It is bad,” he said.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Onyekaozuru Orji, said any case of police brutality should be reported to the authorities.

He said, “If any policeman brutalises anybody, it is the duty of that person to report such a policeman to the authorities. We do not condone indiscipline; we have an internal cleansing system that takes care of act of indiscipline among erring members of the force.

“If the policeman involved is found to be culpable, then a departmental disciplinary measure will be applied against such a person. We don’t condone it. They are supposed to protect members of the public. It is not their duty to intimidate and inflict injury on any member of the public.”
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