25 February 2014

Ghana: Police 'Debt Collectors' Brutalize Tv3 Cameraman

THE NEWLY posted Ashanti Regional Police Commander, DCOP Kofi Boakye, has been handed what appears to be his first major "disciplinary reality check", after three of his men were reported to have subjected one of the cameramen of TV3 Television Network in Kumasi, Victor Opoku, to severe beatings last Thursday, at his house in Oforikrom.

Victor Opoku went through a hallowing experience in the hands of three police officers and one civilian on Thursday evening, after he was subjected to severe torture and molestation by the officers, who had reportedly gone to the house to demand GH¢ 1,000 cedis debt.

The Officers inflicted severe body harm on the poor cameraman, including using shockers on his private parts, rendering him inactive and later dumped him at the Central Police Cells to spend the night.

The policemen were said to have been hired by a civilian, named Fussy, whom Victor owed some money, through the purchase of a saloon car.

Fussy, together with the three officers were, therefore, said to have visited the house of Victor around 8:30pm under the pretext of going to demand the outstanding balance of GH¢ 1,000 cedis at his apartment in Oforikrom.

The real intention, however, was to inflict bodily harm on the TV3 Reporter, after they told him point blank that they had not come to demand the money but to beat him.

Narrating his chilling ordeal to The Chronicle, Victor, who now appears weak and frail, said he purchased an Audi saloon car from Fussy some months ago, but was left with a balance of GH ¢1,000 cedis which he had agreed to pay on Monday.

Victor said he promised to pay last week, but when he went to withdraw money from his ATM at Energy Bank, he detected some anomalies, which the Bank's management said was a general problem which was being resolved.

He said since he could not withdraw the money, he called Fussy and told him about the situation, promising that he would honour his pledge by Monday, which is yesterday, to which he (Fussy) consented.

Victor, however, said on Thursday evening, Fussy came with one police officer to his house, demanding the immediate payment of the money.

No amount of pleas, according to the TV3 Cameraman, would assuage the anger of his creditor, who insisted Victor paid the money or hand over the car keys to them.

"At a point in time, the police officer, who accompanied him, started complaining, saying he would not allow any man to cheat his brother," he stated.

Victor said as he kept on pleading with them, the police officer was communicating with his other two colleagues and at a point in time, signalled them to come.

"A Few minutes later, two other police officers came and told me they had not come to collect the money but to discipline me," Victor said, and what followed was a nightmarish experience, as he was pulled down from a staircase and given hefty blows by the policemen, using the shockers to torture his whole body.

After subjecting him to the beatings, he was yanked into a taxi cab and driven to the Central Police station, where he was incarcerated for almost 24 hours.

He said one of the policemen said: "if you don't take care we will kill you and say you are an armed robber, eventually it is our statement that the police will take,"

Victor said on their way to the police station, he became seriously disturbed and almost succeeded in plunging the car into a ditch at the Asafo Interchange.

"At that time, I wanted all of us to die because I was confused, for the fact that these people were sending me to cells for no justifiable reasons, I wanted all of us to die," Victor sobbed.

According to information, the police officers filed a report of assault against him and left him to languish at the Central Police cell without anyone knowing about it.

He was, however, located around 12pm midnight by a colleague worker, Ibrahim Abubakar, who was later informed by officers on duty to come the next morning, because it was late, and that they could not grant him bail.

Ibrahim said when he got there the next morning, on Friday, the officers told him he would have to wait until 12:30pm before they can see their colleague.

"It was later that we called one of the senior police officers who pleaded with the officers on duty to release Victor from cell and put him at the counter," Ibrahim noted.

Ibrahim said another colleague of his, Evans Inkoom, got the wind that the said police officer who led the assault was a member of a team who embarked on an operation at a Galamsey Mining site in the Manso area, together with the Regional Security Coordinator, Mr. Bempong Marfo.

It was then that we called Mr. Marfo and told him about the incident and he responded swiftly by coordinating with the relevant authorities to secure the release of Victor. Meanwhile, the police at the Charge Unit later said the case was not within their domain and that Victor must be transferred to Oforikrom because that was where the incident occurred, our brother went through hell," Ibrahim stated.

Meanwhile, ASP Tanko has confirmed the incident and said investigations had begun in earnest, though he stated that there were no records of complainant lodged except the one by the police officers that claimed that Victor had assaulted them and threatened to kill them.

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