Months after he was allegedly struck with an iron rod on his head by some policemen at the Iba area, Ojo, Lagos, Saheed Waliu, has remained in a coma at Bola Tinubu ward of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.
Waliu, a tyre repairer, was said to be on his way home on May 8, 2013, when the incident occurred; he was in company with a friend, Sherif Eleda.
His aged mother, Saidat, told PUNCH Metro on Wednesday that she was at home that fateful night when Eleda rushed into her house with news of the incident.
She said, “It was about 8.45pm when Eleda rushed into my home crying. He told me that Waliu had been attacked by some policemen. Eleda had escaped arrest by the same policemen to tell me the news.”
PUNCH Metro gathered that Waliu, as was his custom, had stopped by the Amonota filling station, along the LASU /Igando expressway to pick up Eleda, on his way home.
Both men had only gone a short distance on Waliu’s bike when they noticed some policemen, who were usually stationed by the NNPC fuel station along the expressway. They were said to be in a vehicle, tagged Highway patrol.
Suddenly, without any warning, the policemen allegedly threw an iron rod at Waliu, causing him to lose control of the bike. Both men fell with the motorcycle. While Eleda was able to pick himself up, almost immediately, Waliu unfortunately could not.
In addition to having suffered a split skull as a result of the assault, Waliu’s motorbike, which fell on him, had also broken one of his legs. The young man, soon to be married, remained motionless on the ground while his attackers went in pursuit of Eleda.
Saidat said, “We rushed to the scene immediately; I was accompanied by my brother and one of my daughters, Taiwo. When we got there, the policemen had moved away to the other side of the road, trying to pretend that nothing had happened. My brother went over and confronted them with what Eleda had told us. They denied it but when Eleda insisted, they had no choice than to accompany us to a nearby hospital for treatment.
“When we got to the hospital, we were asked to pay N10,000 before any treatment could be administered. Both policemen could only contribute N500 each, and then with the excuse that they wanted to get more money from their vehicle, they escaped.”
After Waliu had received first aid, he was immediately transferred to LASUTH that same night due to the severity of his injuries.
Yet, after two surgeries on his head, Waliu is unable to regain consciousness. He neither speaks nor recognizes his mother, who has since kept vigil at the hospital in the hope that her eldest child would get better.
“I have been at the hospital ever since; I sleep here, outside the ward. The doctors say that his brain was severely hurt in the attack; that is all I know. We have spent over N800,000 for the last two surgeries on his head. I am now trying to raise another N250,000. Everything of value, owned by Waliu and I, has been sold to foot his medical bills.
“The policemen, who did this, have gone scot free; they must come and take responsibility for their actions,” Saidat said.
Although, the family made no formal report to the police station in their neighbourhood, PUNCH Metro gathered that a non-governmental organisation, Know Your Rights Initiative, had done so on their behalf.
KYRI Legal Adviser, Mr. Omo Egbekuse, told PUNCH Metro that the matter came to the group’s attention last week.
He said, “We immediately wrote a petition to the Inspector General of Police, the Lagos State Police Commissioner and the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2. We haven’t heard from them yet but expect that action would be taken in respect of this matter.”
The Force Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Frank Mba did not respond to calls and text messages to his phone.