A Protocol Officer of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Muhammed Shuaibu, on Sunday suffered in the hands of four Nigerian Air Force officers after they tortured him at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja
And now, the Command Public Relations Officer, Logistics Command, NAF, Joel Abioye, says the beating happened because Shuaibu broke the rule and seekingsought to use his position to outsmart the officers.
Narrating what happened to newsmen, Joel said:
“The incident happened at the Departure wing of the International Airport, Ikeja, on Sunday when one Muhammed Shuaibu, a protcol officer with FAAN confronted our men
on duty for challenging him for parking in a wrong place, thereby obstructing free flow of traffic.
This same man had earlier been cautioned to stop allowing motorists park indiscriminately for security reason. He was instructed to move his vehicle to the designated car park at the airport. He, however, refused, claiming that he was a member of staff of FAAN. He is a protocol officer and I expect him to know better, considering the security challenges in the country.
Shuaibu struggled with our men and acted violently in an attempt to retrieve the number plate of his vehicle that was removed, which is a usual practice to serve as deterrent to other motorists who park indiscriminately.
Contrary to the report that he was beaten to a coma, it was in his attempt to retireve his number plate that he sustained injury in his nostrils. He was later taken to the 445 NAF Hospital, Ikeja, for medical treatment before he discharged himself on Monday.
However, a thorough investigation will be carried out and if any of our men is found culpable, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against them as the Nigerian Air Force does not condone any act of indiscipline and brutalisation of innocent citizens.”
But Shuaibu, who spoke with PUNCH Metro on Wednesday, explained that it was not the first time that airport workers would be intimidated and beaten by the air force officers. He said he wanted his attackers to be punished and his case to serve as a deterrent to other security officers who abuse the privilege of power.
Narrating the incident to their correspondent, the victim said his friend had come to the airport to pick him up when the air force officers on duty at the time removed the vehicle’s number plate.
He said when he challenged the four gun-wielding officers, they pounced on him, torturing him with their guns until he became unconscious. He said:
“It was on Sunday and a friend of mine came to pick me. Before he even got there, I was already waiting for him. As I got out, I discovered, the officers had removed his number plate. It was a common practice at the airport to extort strangers who did not know the rules.
I went to meet them and identified myself as a FAAN official. But they said it was none of their business. I told the driver to let us go, that I would get it later. But he said he would not go because he could be arrested by the police.
I went to meet them again and begged. They said if I didn’t leave the place, they would shoot me. One of them suddenly came from behind to attack me. He hit me with the butt of his gun and others joined him. They did not stop until I became unconscious.”
Shuaibu, who reportedly suffered internal bleeding, was later taken to the Aviation Clinic at FAAN headquarters, before being referred to the Air Force General Hospital on Monday after his condition worsened. Punch’s correspondent, who visited the hospital on Wednesday, learnt that Shuaibu had left the facility.
A worker at the Emergency Ward, said, “He has left. Different people have been looking for him.”
When their correspondent visited the MMIA, he met some colleagues of the victim, who said he had yet to resume for work. They, however, confided in the correspondent that it was not the first time air force officers and other security agents at the airport would be abusing their power.
A worker said a porter was beaten in March by some naval officers after the worker challenged them for wrongful parking. A senior official of FAAN, who pleaded anonymity, condemned Shuaibu’s torture, saying brutality was never a way of enforcing the rule. He said:
“If people parked wrongly, their cars are deflated and they are made to pay a fine of N50, 000. Beating has never been part of enforcement. Removing of number plate has also never been part of the rule. The air force officials do it to extort money from people.”
Shuaibu appealed to the government to put an end to the assault, saying he wanted his case to be the end of such incidents. He said:
“I appreciate the efforts of the media, but this is just a single case out of many others which never get any mention. I have no plan to personally pursue a legal case, I am leaving everything to FAAN.
But I want the government to intervene and let these assaults end with my experience. It has to stop and the only way to do that is to punish officers who attacked me.”