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Kofi Bartels: Popular Port Harcourt on Air Personality (OAP) narrowly escapes death from beatings, torture from F-SARS operatives

Daniel Efe & Eric Olusesan

 

 

 

Media Community in Port Harcourt, Rivers State have been alarmed about the brutality meted out to a Popular Port Harcourt On-Air-Personality, OAP, Kofi Bartels, of CoolWAZOBIAInfo fm due to the assault by men of the Federal State Anti-Robbery Squad, F-SARS, simply because he tried to have a snapshot of where they were allegedly beating up a boy they tried to arrest.

 

Kofi Bartels was obviously caught trying to record their brutality of F-SARS officials and fury was let loose and he is now left with life-threatening injuries.

 

Bartels, as of time of this report, remains bed-ridden and able to stand up only with the aid of clutches.

 

In a heartrending story he shared early Wednesday morning on his Facebook page, Bartels, who works with the Nigeria Info 92.3FM, Port Harcourt, a privately-owned radio station, narrated how the armed policemen attacked.

 

“I was given the beating of my life right on the road. They began by smashing my knees repeatedly with wooden bars”, the OAP recounted, amidst pains.

 

 

Mr. Bartels’ tale of woes continued as he was later bundled to the outfit’s camp where more torture was inflicted on him.

 

According to him, “I was handcuffed like a common criminal and shots were fired to disperse a small crowd that had gathered. After a second round of beating, I was taken to SARS HQ in Port Harcourt where I was beaten more mercilessly by the SARS officers who took me there. About three others also joined in. They took turns to slap, punch, kick me all over my body in a detention room, while I was struggling with a swollen knee. At least 6 officers, one at a time. One swore he would have “wasted” me if his team were the one who picked me up. I was told to get ready to be thrown into their cell where I would receive the worst torture, including sexual abuse by male inmates.”

 

 

As the torture continued, Bartels added, the policemen told him his end in Rivers State had come which was to have been their way of paying him back for the human rights abuses committed by the F-SARS and the police in general against which he (Bartels) had been leading discussions on air.

 

“A couple of them told me to watch my back, saying this is my end in Rivers State, due to the human rights issues we treat on radio involving SARS and the police generally.”

 

Mr. Bartels survived what possibly would have been his end when, according to him, words got across to the F-SARS Commander (leader) whose identity he didn’t state, and we were unable for confirm as of time of this report, who ordered his released without conditions.

 

“My phones were seized and I had no way of communicating with anyone. I was saved at the last minute when word got to their former boss and they were ordered to release me unconditionally.”

 

Mr. Bartels has not been able to pick his calls to ascertain his situation and possibly speak more on his unfortunate travails. Though calls placed on his telephone line all rang out, he did not pick or returned any.

 

 

As was expected, condemnations have trailed this attack on him by men of F-SARS with some calling for thorough investigation.

 

CoolWAZOBIAInfofm with Kofi Bartels and other OAPs have continuously hammered on the need for F-SARS operatives to be conscious of the rights of the citizens even when they carry out their law enforcement duties.

 

There had been several reports of men of the F-SARS engaging in human rights violations against citizens. Only last Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari received the report by the Presidential Panel on SARS Reform which recommended several reforms and penalties for offending F-SARS rank and file. The President promised to implement the recommendations but after the Inspector-General of Police and the Solicitor General of the Federation/Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, would have worked out modalities.

 

 

At time of this report, neither the Rivers State Police Command nor the F-SARS has reacted to Kofi Bartel’s alleged beating and torture incident.

 

 

READ ALSO: POLARIS BANK EMPOWERS RIVERS STATE JOURNALISTS IN ONLINE JOURNALISM TRAINING

 

  

Read Kofi Bartels’ account of his torture and miraculous escape from the F-SARS men on Facebook Timeline

 

 

MY ORDEAL AT THE HANDS OF SARS MEN

 

 

Yesterday, I was driving in my area and saw SARS officers beating up a boy who lives in the area. His mum fries Akara for a living and I knew immediately that they wouldn’t be able to ‘settle’ the officers. He kept shouting “what have I done”, while they tried to force him into their bus. They were beating the hell out of him and don’t know if he would have survived. I made to go plead with them but at a point hesitated and chose to take a shot (photograph) of the bus and number plate.

 

I was given the beating of my life right on the road. They started by smashing my knees repeatedly with wooden bars. As I type this, my left knee is swollen and my right knee seriously bruised. I have pains on my head, neck and back.

I was handcuffed like a common criminal and shots were fired to disperse a small crowd that had gathered.

 

After a second round of beating, I was taken to SARS HQ in Port Harcourt where I was beaten more mercilessly by the SARS officers who took me there. About three others also joined in. They are took turns to slap, punch, kick me all over my body in a detention room, while I was struggling with a swollen knee. At least 6 officers, one at a time.

 

One swore he would have “wasted” me if his team were the one who picked me up. I was told to get ready to be thrown into their cell where I would receive the worst torture, including sexual abuse by male inmates.

 

A couple of them told me to watch my back, saying this is my end in Rivers State, due to the human rights issues we treat on radio involving SARS and the police generally.

 

My phones were seized and I had no way of communicating with anyone. I was saved at the last minute when word got to their former boss and they were ordered to release me unconditionally.

 

The pains were unbearable last night and I’ll have to go for a skull and knee X-ray today.

 

Several times, I’ve had to use my media platform to shout on behalf of the voiceless in our society who have had their rights trampled upon by people meant to protect them. I got my own firsthand experience yesterday. Some of the officers made me know how they felt about that…. literally.

 

So my crimes are;

 

  1. Attempting to do something about the boy who was being beaten.

 

  1. Taking up SARS and police issues on radio.

I’m taking their threats to my life seriously and will be putting authorities on notice. But please be aware, if anything happens to me or my family and friends, you know who to suspect.

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