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I thought I would die after 81-day detention, torture —SARS victim

  A former manager of Upper Class Hotel, Onitsha, Anambra State, demolished in 2013 for alleged kidnapping activities, Dr Justin Nwankwo, on...


A former manager of Upper Class Hotel, Onitsha, Anambra State, demolished in 2013 for alleged kidnapping activities, Dr Justin Nwankwo, on Tuesday appeared before the Anambra State Judicial Panel on Police Brutality.


He told the panel that he was surprised that his genital could still perform after the torture he passed through in the hands of SARS personnel, attributing it to God’s miracle.


The was hotel was demolished in 2013 by the state government over alleged use of the facility for kidnapping activities and its members of staff, including Nwankwo, arrested.


Narrating his ordeal before the panel on Tuesday in Awka, the state capital, Nwankwo said he was detained for 81 days during which the policemen hit his scrotum with hard objects, including rods, to elicit information from him.


Nwankwo, who was claiming N50 million before the panel as damages for the property he lost during the demolition and psychological trauma he passed through, said at the time of his arrest and detention, he was a Ph.D. student and manager of the hotel.


While denying that there were incidences of kidnapping at the hotel, Nwankwo said the owner of the hotel was a successful land agent in Onitsha, adding that the demolition of the facility could be because of sheer jealousy by business rivals


He said, “The torture I went through at Awkuzu SARS was horrible. The painful thing was that they took an innocent man to a detention camp without giving him an opportunity to defend himself.


“They parked us into a police van to a torture camp. They wanted me to join as a prosecution witness against the owner of the hotel and because I refused to do that, my own torture was the severest. They tried to force me to say that there were activities of kidnapping in the hotel, which was not true.


“So, when you hear that my scrotum was damaged and that I was hanged and my hairs were pulled, it was to force me to admit what was not true.


“Apart from the torture, the 81 days of incarceration was something one would not want to remember. I was in the black cell of Awkuzu SARS for 81 days and it is a miracle that I am still breathing and my genital still performing because nobody stayed in Awkuzu SARS for that number of days and survived.


“They were hitting my scrotum to extract information from me by force. They even forced me to thumbprint on a statement I did not write. Imagine a near illiterate person (police) forcing a Ph.D. student to thumbprint a statement he did not generate.


“At the time they forced my finger on the paper, I was unconscious and they poured three buckets of water on me to revive me to enable them to use my thumbprint.


“This happened on the day of the arrest after they took us around many police stations in Onitsha in a black van and eventually arrived Awkuzu SARS around 3 pm and the torture began. We were in the torture hall till around 8 pm.


“We were eventually released after 81 days and the police said their hands were tied and that there was nothing else they could do than to wait for further instructions.


“At the end of the day, they manufactured a case and took us to court because there were pressures from human rights organisations, coupled with the fact that the government wanted a safe landing.”

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Visits Devices Code Obs Start: 2021-06-01 End: 2021-06-30