Age Beeka, 31, was repeatedly punched in the face and groin when he tried to prevent a street hawker being arrested last Thursday night outside the Crystal Palace Hotel, Port Harcourt Crescent Area 11.
He said: “I was playing some pool at the bar when we heard a commotion outside. We went out to see these guys roughing up the boys who sell recharge cards. I told them to take it easy, and they jumped on me.”
He said he was thrown into the back of a van with green government licence plates while the street hawkers were rounded up. Another man continued to beat him in the back of the van, he said. He told City News he escaped from the van by throwing himself out when it started driving away.
He said: “There was absolutely no justification to what they did, I thought if they can do this to me now, what are they going to do when they get to where we’re going?”
He sustained serious grazes when he leapt from the moving vehicle.
The seven men did not identify themselves and wore no uniform, but they were accompanied by two uniformed police officers, Mr Beeka said. Street hawkers working in the area identified them as working for the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency, known as ‘the task force’.
Recharge card seller Abdullahi Adamu said: “They were from Task Force. They took one of my boys to their offices in Area 3, they confiscated all his cards and money.” Other street vendors paid the men to leave them alone, he said.
But Mr Diran Omifade special assistant on communication to the minister of the
Mr Beeka, who regularly plays at the Hilton and at diplomatic receptions, says he has hired lawyers and is preparing to sue the authorities.
He said: “These people have no respect for the rule of law. The police should arrest them, but they just stood there. I was ill treated because I spoke out. In general people don’t speak out, we need to change that.”
Monday, September 17, 2007