Ahmadu Saifu, The Guardian newspaper’s driver was arrested and tortured by military personnel in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on October 30, 2020 while on his way to the office.
Ahmadu left his house in Oyigbo area of the city at 6:00 a.m. and trekked for about one hour before boarding a cab to the office in IkwereRoad in a bid to escape the 24-hour curfew imposed by the state government in the troubled Oyigbo Local Government Area after violent attacks that rocked the local council.
He hadn’t walked for a long distance before he sighted military personnel coming from the opposite direction. Thinking with his identity card as a media/essential worker, the soldiers would let him go, perhaps after the usual raising of hands and frog-jumping, he continued his journey.
The soldiers gave Ahmadu a moment to identify himself. But after arresting several others, the soldiers made everyone switch off their phones and ordered all of them to lie down in mud water, warning that anyone who raised his head or hand would be killed because Oyigbo people killed soldiers.
Ahmadu said: “When I sensed the situation was tensed, I put my phone on silence and sent a text message to my daughter that the army has arrested me and I don’t know where they were taking us to.”
He said the soldiers later took them to a nearby bush filled with broken bottles and asked them to lie down on them, lamenting that the bottles tore his clothes and body. He also disclosed that the soldiers arrested and tortured some police officers who they suspected had collected bribe from victims’ relatives to seek their release.
When later he tried to identify himself by presenting his identity card to the soldiers, they refused to listen to him. He was allowed to leave at about 1.30 pm after he was able to meet one of the junior officers to whom he showed his my identity card and who took Ahmed to the Captain in charge.
Ahmadu disclosed that he sustained hand and head injuries as a result of severe hitting from the soldiers, describing his experience as sad, horrible, and unfortunate.
He added: “It is a bad situation we have found ourselves in this country. I was on a lawful duty. I had a valid ID card, but I was tortured for no reason.”