The Oyo State Joint Security Outfit, Operation Burst, on Saturday allegedly assaulted a male student of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State and stripped him naked.
The incident allegedly occurred during the election of new executives for the National Association of Oyo Students (NAOS).
In a letter reportedly sent to Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, a student leader, Siyanbola Kunmi, narrated what happened: “The Operation Burst men also came in their truck, claiming they were ordered by the ‘headquarters’ to come to the venue of the election. It was not only surprising but also ridiculous that the men of the special outfit set up to combat crimes were at the election ground to ‘monitor’ an election despite the fact that about five men from the Atiba Police Division were already there. Has the outfit become so low and ridiculed to the extent of getting involved in a free and fair students’ election while there are other sensitive and urgent issues in the town? Damn shameful!
“While the election was going on, a student of the University of Ilorin, Ogbeni Olalekan Excellent, was allegedly having a dialogue with a female student – Mariam Olabisi Salahudeen, also a student of UNILORIN. This was about a 100 metres away from where the Operation Burst vehicle was stationed.
“Olalekan was facing elsewhere with his back towards them. He was having a serious conversation with Mariam, who was also a member of the electoral committee. Mariam was having issues with some people and Olalekan was trying to prevail on her to return to her duty post!
“One of the soldiers in the squad allegedly came down from the truck and went straight to where Olalekan was standing. Immediately he got to him, he started hitting him with the butt of his gun.
“Surprised and shocked, the student asked what he did wrong. Other students also rose to demand what his offence was. Yet, the officer kept hitting him. When the blows were becoming unbearable, the student fell down at the spot. Not minding his state of consciousness, the officer dragged him towards the truck. Other students could not bear this again and attempted to revolt, insisting they were not going to allow the operatives take away their colleague.
“After firing two shots to disperse the students, they drove away but took the semi-conscious student along with them. Olalekan said they stopped on the way, wound up the windows and then the officers left except for one of them who was left with him. He was punched several times and the officer kept saying ‘I will kill you’.
“They finally took him to their quarters at Kosobo where he was going to receive the beating of his life. He was stripped naked and taken to a shower. After running water all over his body, he was taken to a room to be tortured. He was tortured with belts, machetes and gun butts.
“Some of the officers were heard saying, ‘We know they will come for you but before they do so, we will kill you’.
“Personally, I placed a call to the Commandant to prevail on him. I emphasised the roles people like me always play when it comes to security issues in the town and appealed that he should release the student for sanity to return, not even knowing he had already been badly tortured.
“After several attempts and efforts of some persons and student leaders, his release was secured. The student was in a very terrible condition. He could barely walk and we had to rush him to the hospital for urgent medical attention.”
Director General of Operation Burst in the state, Col James Oladipo, however, denied that the student was assaulted while addressing reporters.
Explaining the arrest of the student, Oladipo said; “Our men were on the ground to maintain law and order during the election. A student was having confrontation with a lady, which almost led to a serious crisis and that was what caught the attention of our men. They tried to intervene and arrest the student but he resisted arrest. As a result, he was taken to the station. After he was arrested, we received calls from people and he was released. Nobody assaulted him. “