Anambra vows to punish officials who brutalised man in viral video

The Anambra State Government has vowed to punish the erring operatives of the Special Anambra Anti-Touting Squad who brutalised a man who has been identified as one Wilfred Ezike, a.k.a Mgbilimgba, in Onitsha, Anambra State, on Tuesday.

A group of people said to be members of SASA had allegedly beaten him to a coma over an unknown offence.

The said officials videoed their victim while hitting his legs and ankles with a pestle and posted the video on social media.

The video, however, made the rounds on social media on Tuesday, showing the men hitting the man with a short pestle while questioning him over a yet-to-be-known matter.

The operative repeatedly hit the victim with the pestle while his colleagues were making the video, as the victim was rolling on the ground, helplessly crying and begging them to allow him to explain.

In the video, while the victim tried to explain to them that his wife was pregnant and that he didn’t want to die without seeing his child, the anti-tout operatives told him that they wanted him dead, adding that they had not come there to joke with him.

The video attracted wide condemnations across the state, and the general public wondered why the Anti-tout operatives should subject someone to such inhumane treatment instead of handing him over to the police for appropriate investigation and possible prosecution.

But reacting to the development on Wednesday in a statement, the Commissioner for Homeland Affairs, Chikodi Anarah, said, “We are investigating the matter and will punish the erring SASA operatives.”

The statement read, “I have been alerted to a viral video on the arrest and manhandling of one Wilfred Ezike, also known as Mgbiligba by SASA operatives. I really feel bad that an incident of that nature took place. I have felt bad all through the day since somebody posted the video to me.

“It is true that some people are unrepentantly committed to various criminalities on the basis of which innocent citizens remain in miserable conditions running their legitimate day-to-day life, but we must handle human beings according to prescriptions of the law, no matter their offence.

“Our government is law-abiding, and that is why we must fish out the SASA operatives involved in the incident under reference and punish them accordingly.

“It is also true that we are resolute to stamp out ‘Agberos’, but that must happen within the confines of the laws of the land. Interestingly, people have been commenting and reacting. This shows life in an organised democracy.

“Some of them allege various levels of atrocities committed by Wilfred Ezike for which he ought to have been more severely manhandled and brought to book, while counter-narratives insist that he should not be manhandled at all. For me, and the government of Anambra State, nothing justifies brutality, and that is why we will punish the erring operatives.

“According to records published in various platforms, Wilfred Ezike had been in and out of prison custody for the alleged murder of innocent people while with his boys, extorting money from them. He is said to be a major kingpin of touts in whose hands people have gone through hell.

“We were informed that there was widespread jubilation among Onitsha traders and ‘keke’ operators when they heard about his arrest. They alleged that he was dreaded, but that (if true) does not imply that SASA should not follow the law in dealing with him.

“Other comments are that SASA operatives may have been enraged because, according to them, he wrote a petition against them falsely alleging that they killed somebody along Niger Street, Onitsha.

“SASA was further quoted as saying that he did that to commence his effort to cripple its job so as to continue his unholy business. A police investigation is said to support SASA’s position that the petition was unfounded.

“General comments have also expressed opinions that Wilfred had been prominent in fighting previous administrations to a standstill in their effort to curb the State of touts and their activities.”

The PUNCH had reported that the Anambra State governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, inaugurated the state Anti-touts Squad in 2023 to tackle the increasing spate of touting in the state.



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