DEVELOPING STORY: 4 Software Engineers Allege Harrowing Experience of Police Brutality in Calabar

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Calabar – Four yet-to-be-identified software engineers have recounted a harrowing experience with officers of the Nigerian Police in Calabar, raising concerns about alleged police brutality and extortion NEGROIDHAVEN can report authoritatively.

The incident occurred on Thursday, December 6, 2023, at Ekpo Abasi by Betking, near the bend leading to Watt Market. The victims, including the narrator simply identified as Okot who works as a backend software engineer at Uobis, detailed the events that unfolded during their encounter with the police.

“I work at Uobis as a backend software engineer, my 2nd friend works at Youverify as a frontend software engineer, the 3rd person works as a frontend software engineer at sterling bank, which was the owner of the laptop in question, and the last 4th person is a freelance frontend software engineer,” Okot explained.

According to the victims, they were stopped at a police checkpoint around 10:00 pm while on their way home in a Bolt ride. The officers allegedly questioned their movement at that hour, demanded they come down from the vehicle, and proceeded to search them.

The situation escalated when one of the officers accused them of being involved in fraudulent Internet activities, referring to them as “yahoo boys.” Despite explaining their professions as software engineers, the officers reportedly insisted on searching their devices and demanded money.

The victims claimed that the officers coerced them into a police van, threatening to shoot them if they resisted. They were driven to an unfamiliar location near the Hawkins cemetery off Calabar Road, where the officers allegedly subjected them to physical assault with a sharp cutlass, threatening to kill them and dispose of their bodies in the cemetery.

Continuing, Okot observed that “After getting into the vehicle, we then started moving. I didn’t even know where they were taking us to; we just kept moving. All of a sudden, we stopped, and we were asked to get down from the vehicle. All I could see was a cemetery. We then were asked to lay down on the floor. They then removed a sharp cutlass and started to flog us one after the other till it got to my turn and threatened to kill me and my friends and dispose our bodies in the cemetery close to where they drove us to. We started begging, so they then said we should bring 50k each to make it a sum of 200k in total.”

The victims, in a state of fear, pleaded with the officers, who eventually demanded a total of 200,000 Naira from them. Faced with the threat of violence, the victims transferred 10,000 Naira using their bank mobile app and paid an additional 1,000 Naira in cash. After the payment, the victims were released, and their Bolt driver was called to take them home.

The incident raises concerns about police misconduct, extortion, and the alleged abuse of power by law enforcement officers. Human rights activists and concerned citizens are calling for a thorough investigation into the matter to ensure justice for the victims and hold the alleged perpetrators accountable.

The victims, in collaboration with human rights organizations, are expected to file an official complaint with relevant authorities to seek redress for the alleged brutality and extortion they endured.