By IGHO OYOYO
Some business operators at Bannex plaza located at Wuse 2 in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), who witnessed the incident on March 29, when the Code of Conduct Tribunal Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, allegedly assaulted Mr. Clement Sargwak, a security guard at the plaza, have described the arrest of a phone repairer in the plaza, Mr. Peter Onyuike, as a great injustice.
The eye witnesses, who expressed shock that Onyuike has been in police detention since the incident on March 29, said that the phone repairer did not commit any offense to warrant such injustice melted on him by Justice Umar.
Mr. Fred Chukwudi, a phone dealer at the plaza while narrating to LEADERSHIP what transpired on that day between Onyuike and Justice Umar, said that on that fateful day when the CCT Chairman was allegedly assaulting the Bannex Security Guard, Clement Sargwak, his phone fell from his pocket, and Onyiuke saw the phone on the ground and picked it before anybody did.
According to Chukwudi, after everything was a bit calm, Onyuike then approached Justice Umar and told him that he wanted to see him, but he refused to listen to Onyuike, telling him to get out, so Onyuike left and went to meet one of the Police officers.
“From where I was standing, I saw Onyuike bring out a phone from his pocket showing it to the police officer he was talking to, when Mr. Umar saw Onyuike showing the police office his phone, he started shouting. That was when Onyuike then went to him again and gave him the phone.
“Onyuike then told him, ‘Oga you are supposed to tell me thank you for picking my phone, not this thing you are saying.’ So, when he wanted to leave them to go to his shop, that was when Mr. Umar ordered the officers to arrest Onyuike.
“Onyuike was surprised and asked what his offence was, that he saw the CCT boss phone fell from his pocket when he was fighting and decided to pick it so that it will not be stolen by anyone to avoid further offence against anyone in the plaza, now he has ordered for his arrest. So, he refused to be arrested,” he said.
Another eyewitness, Suleiman Mohammed, a private guard from another company attached to Bannex plaza, said further that Onyuike, out of fear, as a result of the fact that they have known the identity of Justice Danladi Umar, and the initial threat he made to them that he will lock the security guard for 50 years in prison and nobody will be able to free him, that was when he decided to run away through the back fence of the plaza to EMAB plaza, with policemen chasing after him.
“People started shouting in the plaza, ‘Say No to injustice, say no to injustice’. They now told the security guy that was beaten to kneel down. That was when one of his men putting on yellow colour Khatan, which they addressed as Sheriff then held the security guy and gave him a dirty slap on his face, and told the security guy to kneel down and say he was sorry, which he did.
“As the young man was kneeling down apologising, we expected Mr. Umar to accept his apology, but instead, he went back and ran to the guy and kicked him in his mouth, that was when the viral video with people shouting this is injustice, this is injustice.
“After Mr. Umar and the management have discussed, we did not know the content of their discussion, but we only knew that they told the brutalized security guard to follow them to the station to give his statement. As at about 7.07pm in the evening, we heard gunshots in front of the mall and people started running.
“We were told that some DSS officials came to the plaza, that they saw Mr. Umar inside a hired taxi, and also the Onyuike that ran away after returning his phone, they started beating him mercilessly in front of the plaza. They stripped him completely naked.
“They were dragging him to follow them and he refused, saying that he wanted to know his offence, they continued beating him mercilessly. While they were beating him, some of the officers were shooting in the air to scare people around from going close. This whole thing happened in the presence of more than 50 people. They later overpowered him after the beating and took him away,” he said.
He added that “what baffles me was that a man of such caliber, we cannot say what angered him that made him attack people in the plaza, but honestly we are so disappointed. If his driver had come down first to attack the security guard, he should have been the one to caution him and warned him, not the extent he went.
“So it is really surprising to find out that Onyuike has been in police detention since last week for nothing. This is real injustice. He should be released and compensated,” he said.
Another eyewitness, Ephraim Dan, while corroborating the story, explained that probably it was because Onyuike rudely told Mr Umar that he wanted to see him when he wanted to return his phone to him, which made him angry, because he saw it as been disrespected.
“Because Onyiuke stood from a distance and looked him in the eye, boldly, and said Oga come get your phone, the man who seemed angry, in response to Onyiuke, asked him if he was alright for talking to him like that.
“Onyiuke then handed the phone over to a Banex police officer who then gave it to Justice Umar. After the phone was handed over to him, Onyiuke asked him why he did not have the courtesy to thank him.
“Mr. Umar then began to boast about his position in the country and how he had dealt with many high profiled personalities in the past. He later started saying many things like he would jail Onyuike for 50 years without trial.
“That was when Onyiuke told him to do his worst as he was not God. The man ordered one of the Banex police officers to arrest Onyiuke, but they were reluctant to carry out the arrest due to the familiarity the police officers had had with people at the plaza. The police officer just held him gently by his trousers and kept warning him to keep quiet.”
Dan further explained that when police officers attached to Mr Umar arrived at the plaza, the CCT chairman ordered them to arrest Mr Onyiuke, who immediately fled the scene.
“But sincerely, Onyiuke did not touch the man. The only thing between them was just the way he spoke to him to come to collect his phone. It was the same phone the man used to call his security details at his home to come to pick up the security guard, Sargwak.
“So I do not see the reason why the innocent should be kept in detention for no reason all these while. Yes, he may have spoken rudely to him, but that does not warrant him to be jailed for trying to be a good citizen to return the phone of Justice Umar. He could have as well collected the phone and quietly left the scene, but he did not. This is real injustice and should be condemned,” he said.