Port Harcourt Popular On-Air-Personality, Bartels, survives F-SARS attack but bed-ridden

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Popular Port Harcourt On-Air-Personality, OAP, Kofi Bartels, have survived a near-death assault by men of the Federal State Anti-Robbery Squad, F-SARS, but not without having life-threatening injuries. Bartels, as of time of this report, remains bed-riden and able to stand up only with the aid of clutches.

In a chilling 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 him with arsenals. “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.

That was not all of Mr. Bartels’ tale of woes as he was later bundled to the outfit’s camp where more torture was inflicted on 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 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.”

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 The Neighbourhood was unable for confirm as of time of this report, who ordered he be 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.”

The Neighbourhood made several efforts to speak with Mr. Bartels 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, condemnation has followed this attack on him by men of F-SARS with some calling for thorough investigation. 

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. 

In May 2016, the Rivers State Government of Governor Nyesom Wike made attempts to gag Mr. Bartels, including initiating moves to have him extradited by manipulating the Nigeria Immigration Services, NIS, through frivolous charges, to seize his passport.  

Read Kofi Bartels’ account of his horrendous experience and miraculous escape from the F-SARS men.


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 of the bus and numberplate.

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 Xray 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 first-hand 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.

2. 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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