Alleged Torture: Journalist Seeks NUJ’s Help To Tackle LASPOTECH


A journalist, Folake Sokoya, has petitioned the Lagos council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists over alleged torture by security guards at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu.

Sokoya, whose battle with the Lagos State’s owned institution had been in public space for a while, said she had been denied justice by appropriate government agencies.

She noted that the institution had manipulated the narrative in its favour, hence the need for the state NUJ to come to her aid.

The 40-year-old alleged that she and her son, Boluwatife Olowu, were manhandled by security guards at the school.

Olowu, a National Diploma student in the Hospitality Management Technology Department of the school, was reportedly seized by the guards for wearing earrings on the school’s premises.

He was said to have been brutalised before Sokoya showed up and challenged the guards for assaulting her son.

The freelance journalist said she was also beaten up, adding that she reported the case at the Sagamu Road Police Station.

Sokoya explained that her past experience from almost losing her son to kidnappers prompted her to visit the school when she was informed about the incident.

She said, “My son was abducted by some ritual killers on June 11, 2017; it took the grace of God to find him after four days. So, when he called to tell me that he had been arrested, I was scared. I quickly informed the police and the 174 battalion commandant before rushing out.

“I also called some of his classmates to know his whereabouts; one of them, Ajibola, told me that she saw him when the security guards were beating him up.

“I got back to the commandant and he told me to ask for the Chief Security Officer of the school. I saw my son seated on the floor when I got to the security unit. Immediately they knew I was there because of him, they refused to give me the CSO’s phone number, so I had to leave with my son. We were about three blocks away before my son identified two security officers and showed me the one who beat him up. I was surprised when they accosted him again and wanted to take him back to the unit.

“I challenged them as a mother and they pushed me out of the way. I held one of them. The other guard tried to remove my hand and in the process his clothes got torn. The guard became annoyed and punched me on the face and head butted me until I passed out.

“They dragged me into their office and injured me. I was admitted to a hospital for about three weeks. The police told me that they could not arrest them because it was a school matter.

“I want justice; I have spent a lot on medical bills. They stole my son’s gold chain; they also spoiled his phones.”

PUNCH Metro, during a visit to the school, learnt from Olowu’s friend, identified simply as Ajibola, that both mother and son were assaulted.

Ajibola, said, “We were having a departmental party that day; I was still at the party when his mother called to ask after him. She told me to check on him at the school gate. When I got there, I saw him; the guards had already beaten him up, he was bleeding.

“I was there when Boluwatife’s mother came. The security officer also beat her up.”

A trader at the institution, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The enforcement of the dress code is what usually caused friction between students and security guards and that was what happened that day.”

The security guard, Hitler Moses, 39, however, said it was Sokoya that assaulted him.

He said, “A security guard, Mr Abiodun Ariyo, brought him to the unit for wearing earrings, which is against the dress code of the Lagos State Polytechnic. I told him to remove the earrings and I seized them. The Chief Security Officer placed him on seven days security watch. That is what we do when a student violates the dress code.

“Two hours later, the boy’s mother walked towards me and slapped me. Initially, I thought she was not normal and I moved back. She slapped me again and chased me into the office. She scattered everything inside the office; she even slapped other security men.

“We did not attack her, we don’t attack students; we only take them to the security office. If the student is not listening, we take such a student to the CSO.”

The Public Relations Officer, LASPOTECH, Mr Olanrewaju Kuye, said Sokoya challenged the authority of the school.

He said, “We have dress codes on our campuses, and one of them is that male students are not permitted to wear earrings. One of our students wore them, refused to remove them and they took him to the security office. They put him under surveillance. We use that to watch them for a while, because sometimes, some students just dress roughly but they are not cult members.

“After they left him, he went to bring his mum, who came to the campus to challenge the authority of the polytechnic. In the course of doing that, she slapped one of our security guards and tore his clothes.

“Her son was cautioned and taken to the security office for wearing earrings, which is against our rule. Are we so bad to have beaten up our student and beaten up the parent too? No, it is not possible. We never assaulted her.”

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, said the police had commenced investigation into the case.

He said, “A crime is a crime anywhere, whether committed in the school, church or anywhere. Information available to me is that the Divisional Police Officer of the station she petitioned has written the school to produce the people involved in the matter.”

The Secretary, NUJ, Adebayo Odifa, said investigation was ongoing.

He said, “We are still investigating; we have not been able to get the facts from the school.”