Thirty-year-old Mrs Joy Ihunwo has said that she lost her two-month-old pregnancy after Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the Rivers State Police Command invaded their residence in the Diobu axis of Port Harcourt, the state capital, during which she was allegedly arrested and brutalised.
Ihunwo said she was at home on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, when armed cops of the anti-kidnapping unit came looking for her husband, who is the Chief Security Officer of the Rumu-Elechi community (a vigilante group) in the Mile 3 section of the metropolis.
According to The PUNCH, she said despite arresting her husband, Godstime Ihunwo, and seven of his vigilante members for unexplained reasons, some of the cops broke into their apartment and allegedly beat her with the butts of their guns and took her away to their office alongside her husband.
Ihunwo further said she was roused from sleep that day when the cops forcefully entered her husband’s family house in a Gestapo manner, saying they were looking for some people who ran into the apartment.
“I stood in awe and they said somebody entered my room. I said ‘no sir I was sleeping and I didn’t see anybody enter.’ One of them said I lied and called me a thief and a criminal. I insisted that no one entered my room and he slapped me. When he slapped me, I told him he should stop slapping me. He raised his leg and hit my waist and said I was lying to him that someone entered my room. I maintained that I saw nobody. Then he carried a gun the third time, hit my waist and said again that I was lying to a police officer. He dragged me from our bedroom to the sitting room and pushed me down. When I crawled outside, he slapped me the second time and ordered me into their vehicle.”
The woman added that on the way to the police station she informed the officers that she was having stomach pain but they didn’t listen to her. She stated, “I cried that my stomach was paining me and they should take me to the clinic. I told them that I was pregnant and feeling discomfort. They asked if I was the first person to be pregnant. They said I should not worry that I should get ready to be delivered of a premature baby there that day,” she said.
The 30-year-old woman also accused the policemen of taking away her phones, wrappers, musical player and other personal belongings.
“They ransacked the house, stole my phones and took N150, 000 meant for my business. They also took away the money my husband wanted to use to pay his boys. They took phone chargers, MP3 music players and wrappers. I am calling on female lawyers and human rights activists to help us. I am sad to have lost my pregnancy to police brutality. The scan result shows everything.” she added.
Her husband, Godstime, who is also the Youth President of Rumu-Elechi Community in Nkpolu-Oroworukwo, Mile 3, Diobu, Port Harcourt, expressed sadness at the alleged inhuman treatment meted out to his pregnant wife by the cops.
According to him, “The cops barged into my house, arrested me and eight of my boys. While we were inside their vehicle, they broke my gate, entered our apartment to drag out my wife who’s two months pregnant. We were not even informed of our offence even as vigilantes working with the police and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. They beat up my wife, made away with our belongings and money. They took N150, 000 from my wife’s wardrobe and N225,000 belonging to me. They also made away with my school certificate, car documents, phones, laptops, shoes, clothes and work tools such as radio messages and torches, knives.’’
Ihunwo said he watched helplessly as the policemen ransacked his property and stole his belongings. He said, “They even broke my tenants’ room and made away with their belongings. This action carried out in my place by men of the police anti-kidnapping unit was an arrest. They shot at me twice but God didn’t allow the bullets to get to me. Many people saw what happened. It’s an assassination attempt and I urge the Inspector- General of Police and the relevant agencies to look into it. It was a total set up to intimidate me and tarnish the good image I have built over the years even as a security person in Diobu.”
The vigilante said he learnt that a petition was sent to the police that they always wore police uniform, adding that the petition was not worked on.
He stated, “They did not even work on the petition. What was on the petition I saw when they took us to the anti-kidnapping unit was that we always wore police uniforms. The uniform I put on doesn’t have a police logo and as a vigilante group, I think we have the right to a uniform and a logo but not a logo on police uniform. Also, we learnt that some told the police that we were kidnappers.’’
He stated that one of the persons who supposedly reported him and his boys as kidnappers was someone they arrested at a crime scene on February 3 at Bishop Okoye by the Mile 3 market and handed over to Nkpolu Police Division for proper investigation.
Continuing, Ihunwo said the most painful part was that she begged the policemen not to beat her as she would follow them to wherever they were taking her to but her plea fell on deaf ears.
She said crying, “I told them that I was pregnant when one of them slapped me. I said I would follow them to where they are taking us to. I disclosed to him that I was pregnant but I was shouted at and accused of using my pregnancy to deceive police officers, that was when he hit me with the gun. It was on the way to their office that I started having stomach pain. I cried and when we got to the station, two ladies there gave me water to drink. I took the water and poured the rest on my body to feel relaxed. I cried so hard and my husband pleaded with them that I needed help and they should take me to the hospital. But instead of granting his request, one of the cops used his gun to hit him in his leg and told him to keep quiet. They called him a kidnapper and a robber.’’
The mother of one, who got married six years ago, said her first child turned four on April 5 and the incident happened the following day. She stated, “I am sad. It’s traumatic for a woman to lose her pregnancy. Nobody is God and I feel cheated. Till now, the police have not said anything about the matter. It is unfair.’’
Ihunwo stated that she started bleeding the next morning after they got home, adding that she returned to the police station to get a police report to treat herself.
The woman said, weeping, “I went to the police station to get a police report to go to a hospital. They refused to give me, asking if I wanted them to lose their job. I went back home and after three days, my mother- in-law took me to a hospital where I did a scan to know the baby’s condition. The scan showed that there was a missed abortion. We went on a Saturday. The following day, we went to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital to get a result from the government hospital. The result is the same. It was later flushed out.”
A scan report seen by our correspondent from Transview Diagnostic Centre, Port Harcourt, dated April 10, 2021 titled ‘Obstetrics Scan’ read thus: Impression: ‘Missed abortion at 8 (eight) weeks. G.A. Similarly, a second test conducted at the RSUTH on April 11, 2021 corroborated the first scan report.
A radiological report sheet from the Rivers State Government-owned facility sighted by our correspondent titled, ‘Pelvic study’ partly read, ‘‘Uterus is bulky harbouring an infant gestational sac with a fatal pole seen with no cardiac activity. ‘EGA: seven weeks and five days. Impression: missed abortion.”
The woman who has become distraught after the incident appealed to the relevant authorities to get justice for her. She said, “I want justice to be served in this case. I was unjustly treated.’’
A lawyer with the Centre for Basic Rights Protection and Accountability Campaign, Jane James, condemned the action of the policemen, urging the police authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the victim’s complaint.
James added, “She lost her pregnancy to the alleged police brutality. Her husband was the one they came for but in the process they arrested her too. It wasn’t that they didn’t see her husband. They arrested her along with her husband even when her name was not on the petition. Now, she had lost her baby as the scan showed. It was a battery as a matter of fact. We call on the police authorities to thoroughly investigate the cops connected with the incident. We want justice not only to be served, but to be seen to have been served.’’
She also called on the human rights community and well-meaning Nigerians to rally round the woman and help her get justice.
When contacted, Spokesman for the state police command, Nnamdi Omoni, said the command was aware of the matter, advising the couple to make a formal complaint to the state Commissioner of Police.
Omoni stated, “Yes, we are aware of the matter. It is still under investigation. But they should make a formal report to the Commissioner of Police. If we have a petition, we will work on it.’’