The minister in charge of Gracious and Mercy Prophetic International Church, Egbeda, Lagos State, Pastor Ejimozor Williams, has lost his sight due to a torture he allegedly suffered in the hands of some operatives of the Department of State Services in Lagos.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the 46-year-old pastor’s house in the Ayobo area of the state had been invaded by the security officials after his houseboy, identified simply as Chukwujekwu, defrauded some residents using fake dollars.
PUNCH Metro was told that when the officials failed to arrest the suspect, who had fled, they ransacked Ejimozor’s home and found some of the counterfeit currency.
He was reportedly bundled into a DSS operational van, where he was subjected to different forms of torture.
When he sought to know the identities of the men, one of the officials allegedly hit his head with the butt of a gun.
A few weeks later, he was said to have become blind. Despite visiting no fewer than eight hospitals, the Rivers State indigene had yet to regain his sight.
Ejimozor said he formerly owned a hotel and a house in Abuja, which were demolished by the Federal Government, adding that he later relocated to Lagos to start a new life.
He said, “I started working as a freight worker at the Apapa port where I met the houseboy. Someone actually introduced Chukwujekwu to me and I decided to help the boy.
“After some time, he told me that he wanted to travel and that I should borrow him some money. I told him I didn’t have any money, so he went to meet a man called Okoye, an old friend of mine. Okoye gave him some fake dollars.”
He added that Chukwujekwu showed the dollars to a barber in the area, saying his relative abroad sent him the money and could also help the barber secure a visa to travel overseas.
The barber allegedly parted with N30,000 for the visa and handed the suspect his passport.
Chukwujekwu reportedly fled the house after defrauding several other residents on the street.
“On May 9, 2014, I was at home when about six persons scaled the fence into my compound. They wore black shirts and were armed.
“They came into the house with Okoye and three other gunmen. They began to search the house and beat up people in the compound.
“During the search, they found the fake dollars Chukwujekwu used to defraud people in the area. They said I should sign a statement, but I refused. They beat me up,” he added.
He explained that he was put in a DSS vehicle and taken away.
He said when he asked what he did wrong, one of the gunmen hit him with the butt of a gun in the head, threatening to kill him.
Ejimozor said a part of his skull was compressed after the assault, adding that he was later driven to the DSS office on CMD Road, Magodo, Ketu-Ikosi.
He said, “It was when we arrived at their head office that I realised they were DSS officials. They chained my hands and feet. The next day, they informed me that Okoye told them that we both used fake dollars to defraud people. I denied the claim.
“I was held incommunicado for three weeks and was constantly tortured.
“The DSS later said before they would release me, I must pay N15m which I didn’t have. I told them that all I had was N20,000. After another round of torture, I fainted and was rushed to a clinic where they told them that my blood pressure was low.”
He added that he was immediately transferred to the State Criminal investigation and Intelligence Department of the Lagos State Police Command.
After spending two weeks at the SCIID, Ejimozor said he was arraigned before a Yaba Magistrate’s Court.
He was reportedly remanded in the Ikoyi Prison pending when he would fulfil his bail conditions.
However, while in the prison, the victim said he had a migraine and was rushed to a hospital.
“This led to a partial stroke. I was at home some weeks later when everywhere suddenly went blank. I couldn’t see anything again and that was how I went blind.
“Now, I cannot do anything for myself and my family. I am frustrated. I also have diabetes and high blood pressure,” he added.
His wife, Mrs. Chinyere Williams, said they visited more than eight hospitals together without any result, adding that her husband was later asked to go for a CT scan
She said the scan revealed that he could not see because his brain had been affected after he was hit with the butt of a gun.
“We have been married for 18 years and seeing him like this is like hell. Since he came out from the DSS cell, it has been one sickness after another. I had to carry him on my back several times from the house to hospitals,” she added.
Chinyere said the case against her husband at the magistrate court was struck out because after the first arraignment, neither the DSS nor the police showed up in court.
She called for the punishment of the DSS officials and appealed that her husband be flown abroad for a brain surgery that would correct the problem.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, described the attack as a breach of the rights of the victim, saying the DSS must end the practice of torture.
He said, “The family has given us a firm instruction to pursue the matter legally. Beyond asking for exemplary damages for him, we also intend to use his case to stop the practise of subjecting innocent members of the public to torture.”
The Lagos DSS could not be reached for comment as of the time of filing this report