By Peter Duru, Makurdi
For about three years, 24-year-old butcher, Ibrahim Jafarau, has been bedridden, no thanks to the bullets of a yet to be identified officer of the Benue State Police, who allegedly shot and injured his spinal cord in the Wadata area of Makurdi, the state capital.
Ibrahim, who, since the incident happened, has been moved from one hospital to another by his guardians, in search of medical help, has been surviving through the mercy and of relatives who are now crying out for justice after what appeared to be an indifference of the police to his predicament.
Narrating his ordeal to Sunday Vanguard, Ibrahim said his dilemma started in February 2012.
“On that fateful day, I and my father and other colleagues had gone to Wadata market that morning to sell and butcher cow. After the day’s work, I went to the bank of River Benue, which is just a stone throw from the market, to take my bath.
“After I had cleaned up and was making my way out of the river, I noticed that people were running in different directions, and i discovered they were actually running away from the police who stormed the market that morning.
“In the midst of the confusion, I hurriedly dressed up and tried to run out of the river, when I noticed that the police were firing gunshots sporadically.
“One of the bullets hit me at the back and i fell down. That was the last thing I could remember at the time, because I passed out immediately.
“My people immediately came to my rescue and hurriedly took me to the Divisional Police Station but the officer in charge said he would have no hands in the matter because he did not ask his men to shoot anyone.
“At that point, my people took me to the Makurdi Federal Medical Centre for treatment. But on getting there, the doctors on duty refused to treat me on the grounds that they would require a police report before attending to me.
“I was eventually treated but my legs remained paralyzed. I was referred to another hospital in town, from where I was later referred to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, Makurdi.
“Since then I’ve been here. The police have refused to have a hand in my treatment thereby leaving me to my fate.
“The attitude of the police forced my family to seek justice for me at the Federal High Court. At the end of the day, the court delivered a N15.5million judgement against the police in my favour.
“Surprisingly, till dated, the police have not appealed the judgement and have also not shown any form of concern or care to my situation.
“Since the incident, I have been crippled as a result of the injury. My people have continued to carry the burden of my incapacitation. At the moment, we are owing the BSUTH over N500, 000 because my people have overstretched themselves in order to give me good medical attention.
“I am pained because I was shot by the police and they have treated me like an animal and perhaps believe that they are above the law.
“Look at me, I have become a vegetable because a trigger happy officer shot me where I was doing my legitimate business and, even after the court gave judgement in my favour, they outrightly refused to obey the ruling of the court.
“All I’m asking for at this moment is justice. From the look of things, I might not walk again because the injury on my spinal cord affected my legs but medical personnel advised that I should be taken to India where I could receive better treatment and probably walk again.
“Please tell the authorities to prevail on the police to lead by example by obeying the ruling of the court as expected of them.” Ibrahim narrated his story as he managed to hold back tears.
Corroborating the story of the young man, his guardian, Alhaji Dan Asoho, told Sunday Vanguard that Ibrahim’s condition had drained the family’s resources.
He said the family had spent over N1.3million on Ibrahim’s treatment without improvement.
“We have since this unfortunate incident spent all we have and even resorted to borrowing to ensure that the young man received medical attention”, Asoho stated.
“At the moment, he is lying at the BSUTHwithout treatment because, after we exhausted all we have and though he was discharged over three months ago, the hospital decided on their own to assist with free medication but, as it is, they have reached their limits and we cannot blame them. “We could not move him out of the hospital because we do not know where to take him; fortunately the management of the hospital has been magnanimous to allow him remain in their facilities without payment.
“Our pain is that the police, till date, have not shown remorse nor came to our aid by way of ensuring that he received treatment. “We are only pleading with the police authorities to respect the court ruling and pay the judgement debt to enable us offset the accumulated medical bills and also seek medical attention for the promising young man in India as advised by doctors.”
Meantime, all attempts to reach the police on the matter proved abortive as the cellphone of the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Assistant Superintendent , ASP, Austin Ezeani, was switched off.