OPC tortures man to death over phone theft

A 27-year-old man, Sulaimon Jimoh, has been tortured to death by a vigilance group at Ijora Badia, Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the deceased was arrested by some members of the pan-Yoruba group, Oodua People’s Congress, for allegedly stealing a BlackBerry phone and an undisclosed amount of money last Sunday.
Mother of the deceased, Afusatu, who claimed to have witnessed the incident, said the OPC men tortured her son for three hours, flogging him with an iron rod and charms.
She said, “That day, my son left the house around 5.30am to say his morning prayers at a nearby mosque. A few minutes later, I received a telephone call from a resident saying my son had been arrested by OPC men.
“I went to Oniyinde OPC base and saw about eight men beating up my son. My son’s hands were tied with a rope. I approached them and I pleaded that my son be released.
“The leader said I should provide N70, 000 before he could be released. Because that day was a Sunday, there was no way I could come up with that amount of money. So I continued to plead but he refused.
“I wanted to report the torture at the Ijora Police Station, but I was not sure if policemen would respond on time. I ran back home and I was able to raise N11, 000. I rushed back to the scene around 8.30am.”
Afusatu said when she got there, her son was almost unconscious. She said she pleaded with the OPC men to accept the N11, 000, which they did before releasing Sulaiman. She added that he died few minutes after returning home.
She said, “Before he died, my son told me that the OPC used charms to flog him. He told me that he was framed up and denied stealing anything.”
Afusatu said her son’s murder was one of OPC men’s excesses in the area. She urged the police to curb the excesses of the vigilance group members.
She said, “These OPC men are nothing but touts who extort money from innocent residents in the name of fighting crime. They have killed many youths in our area; I never knew they would kill my son one day.
“My son was a driver with a fish trading company. He was an honest man.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that the matter had been reported at Ijora Police Station and that policemen stormed the house where the deceased was tortured by OPC men.
Police sources told our correspondent that many of the culprits ran away but an OPC member, Kola Oladipupo, and an occupant of the building, identified as Olumide, were arrested.
Olumide, who claimed to be an Islamic cleric said, “One of my neighbours was shouting ‘thief, thief’ on that day. I and other neighbours apprehended the suspect.
“We were told that he stole a BlackBerry phone and some money. After beating him, I called OPC men to arrest him. It was a few days later that police came and arrested me.”
Oladipupo said he only beat up the suspect but did not kill him.
He identified the suspects at large as Muyibat’s aka Iron Lady, Kayode and Yusuf.
“Iron Lady was the one that gave us instruction to beat him (Sulaimon). She is our leader,” he said.
When contacted on the telephone, the spokesperson for the state police command, Ngozi Braide, said the matter had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation department, Yaba, for investigation.
National Publicity Secretary, OPC, Mr. Sola Ajayi, said the suspects were not OPC members.
“I am not aware of this development and those people are not our members because we do not behave in such a manner. We have a database of our members and they all have identity cards. If we get the details of the suspects, we will cross-check it with our data,” he said.

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