A Taxify driver, John Otuechere, who was wrongly accused by his passenger of stealing her bag and eventually tortured by the SARS operatives she reported to, has filed for charges over violation of his human rights. The driver added that he was arrested, detained and tortured on the order of one Mrs Alice Isah.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Isah who came back into the country from training in Dubai on Sunday, July 15, had called the Taxify driver to pick her up from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and drop her off at her residence on Lekki Gardens Estate, Lagos State.Otuechere said while they were on the way, his car developed a fault which prompted him to park to examine the vehicle.
He said: “We were on the Third Mainland Bridge when my car started making an unusual sound. I did not stop because it was dangerous; so I managed it until we left the bridge. “I eventually parked beside an RRS Patrol vehicle to examine the car.
While examining the car, a guy crossed over from the other side of the road to assist me. I don’t know him, but he said he was a mechanic, and we discovered that only one nut was left holding the tyre to the bolts on the driver side.
“The woman (Isah) at this point got down from the car to observe what was going on. She saw that we had to unscrew one nut from the other tyres to fasten the tyre on the driver side to the vehicle. I gave the man N100 and he crossed back to the other side of the road before we moved on.”
The 37-year-old driver said they had no other stopover till they got to Isah’s residence where they brought down her luggage. He said the passenger, at this point, discovered that one of her bags had gone missing. Otuechere said he suggested taking her back to the airport to check whether she forgot the bag, adding that instead, Isah accused him of conniving with the mechanic to steal her bag
He said: “I told her that I would take her to the airport and back for free, but she insisted that she personally put the bag in the boot of my car.
“The second day, when the policeman who investigated the case suggested that we searched for the bag at my house and the airport, she said he was supporting me and she petitioned the state police command and the case was transferred to Ikeja.
“Immediately I got to SARS in Ikeja, a policeman, identified as Omoleme, hit me many times with an iron bar to make me confess in the presence of the woman. He said he would kill me and nothing would happen. I was in tears because of the pain; my blood was all over the floor and I was told to pull off my dress and start cleaning it.
“SARS cell is a graphic picture of hell; I saw over 70 people inside one room and immediately I entered, I was welcomed with several blows, slaps and kicks.”
The Abia State indigene said it took the intervention of his lawyer before the SARS operatives agreed to search for the bag at the airport.
He added that the bag was eventually found and recovered at the airport where the woman forgot it.
Otuechere, whose two fingers had been broken during the torture, said he wanted justice and compensation for being humiliated and tortured for a crime he did not commit.
“When they returned, I was released. The woman has not called to apologise; even the officers of SARS did not apologise for torturing me without investigation. I want justice, I demand a written apology from F-SARS and Mrs Alice Isah for wrongful accusation, detention and torture.