Casmir Ibegbulem, an oil worker who was arrested and detained by the Imo State Police Command, after a raid for unknown gunmen, has narrated his ordeal in detention, saying the police locked him up in an underground cell and demanded N10 million as his bail.
Ibegbulem, who was labelled and paraded as an Eastern Security Network (ESN) gunman and member of the Indigenous People of Biafra, did audio after his release, narrating how the army waylaid him, transferred him to the police who then brought all of them to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where they were locked up in an underground cell.
SaharaReporters on June 3 reported that the 40-year-old oil worker and father of one, who was wrongly raided and paraded as one of the unknown gunmen, had been released after this newspaper reported about him and others.
Ibegbulem is a “Permit Holder” staff of an oil company at Bonny Island in Bayelsa State and a native of Ogwa Community in Mbaitoli, Imo State.
He had returned to Imo State for the burial of his in-law, which was to take place on May 28 but was arrested in Owerri on May 25 when he came to pick up some personal items needed for the burial.
Police patrol personnel had pounced on him at gunpoint and arrested him.
“He was paraded same evening alongside four others. Ibegbulem is married to Onyekachi who is seven months pregnant,” SaharaReporters had exposed in its report.
In the audio he did after his release, Ibegbulem narrated his sordid ordeal in the hands of the police.
He said, “With little or no investigation when they raided us, they tied me and others and drove straight to the State Criminal Investigation Department at Owerri. We were beaten and molested, with our phones off and no sort of communication to any loved ones.
“Two days later, we were asked to enter a vehicle, and it was after we crossed Onitsha, that they told us we were being transferred to Abuja. Immediately we landed in Abuja, we were sent to an underground prison.
“While there, I was scared and hopeless, hoping that a miracle would happen. Later the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) in charge of my file, summoned me and told me my case was a serious IPOB case, more like a kidnapping case. He asked me if my people could afford to pay N10 million as bail. I insisted I would not pay.
“I was bargaining for N800,000. On the second afternoon, I was fortunate to come across my uncle – a military officer who came around to the police headquarters in Abuja. He was shocked because he wasn't expecting anybody, due to the lapse in communication.
“That was how they worked out my bail. On the next day, I wrote a statement for the first time and I was granted bail.”
A report by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, a civil society and research group, had detailed how the police and the army raided South-East residents and labelled them as IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) and ESN members.
“In all these, we have received over 100 phone calls and messages from members of the public testifying in favour of the abducted and slain citizens named above. Intersociety hereby calls on the Nigeria Police Force and Nigerian Army to immediately and unconditionally release all the citizens arrested illegally.
“We urge them to desist from the perpetration of frame-ups and trumped-up allegations or charges, abductions and disappearances, extrajudicial killings and other forms of genocidal operations going on in the South-East,” Intersociety had said.