About six officers of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) who brutalised and almost killed a journalist, Kofi Bartels in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, are to appear before the Commissioner of Police (CP), Usman Belel, today. Bartels, an employee of Nigeria Info in Port Harcourt, said he survived the brutality of the F-SARS men by divine providence.
Narrating his ordeal, Bartels explained that he was driving through his neighbourhood in Port Harcourt and saw some F-SARS officers beating up a boy who lives in the area and whose mother sells bean cakes, popularly called akara. He stated that while the boy kept shouting repeatedly, the F-SARS men continued beating him and tried to force him into their bus. He explained that he decided to intervene at that point because he was not sure if the boy would survive the brutality meted to him.
“They beat him so much that I doubt if he would survive. I made to plead with them but hesitated and chose instead to take a photograph of the bus and number plate,” Bartels said. He added that immediately the F-SARS men realised that he had taken their photograph, they rushed him and started to beat him mercilessly.
“They started by smashing my knees repeatedly with wooden bars resulting in a swollen knee and severely bruised body. “I was taken to SARS office in Port Harcourt where I was given another round of beating as they were joined by three other officers in the beating,” he narrated.
Bartels further explained that some of the F-SARS men even warned him to henceforth watch his back due to the human rights issues he and others have often treated on radio involving SARS and the police generally.“One of the officers said he would have ‘wasted’ me if his team had arrested me. They told me to get ready to be thrown into their cell where I would receive the worst torture, including sexual abuse by male inmates.
“My crime is that I tried to do something about a boy who was being beaten and taking up SARS and police issues on radio. I am taking their threat to my life seriously and putting the authorities on notice that if anything happens to me or my family and friends, they should know the suspects,” he added.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Office (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident, saying the CP has ordered an investigation of the matter. Omoni told The Guardian that the F-SARS men who brutalised Bartels are to appear before Belel today for interrogation.