By Ushang Ewa/Itiunbe Atunka
Two men, Stephen Apebende and his friend, unnamed spent their Easter holidays in detention for allegedly photographing police officers via their cell phones while extorting road users.
Family sources close to Apebende say he was arrested along with his friend Saturday morning along Ranch road at the police checkpoint just before the residence of Martins Orim, the Chief of Staff to Governor Ben Ayade when the officers on duty alleged he was taking photographs of them demanding money from road users.
Apebende and his friend were reportedly detained Saturday through Easter Monday when the policemen brought in a local tech guru to unlock the seized phones; a Tecno android phone and an iPhone but were later released when family members learnt of their ordeal.
When CrossRiverWatch visited the police station, the DPO was said to be on Easter vacation while the officer at the front desk and the station officer denied knowledge of such while the local tech guru could be heard chatting his friend how he was finding it difficult to unlock the phone as it was locked and needed a password to open it.
It is still unclear what transpired between the police and the detained friends, but a source very close to Apebende who our reporter learnt works with a non governmental organization with focus on HIV/AIDS, reliably informed CrossRiverWatch that it took the pleas of elderly family members to dissuade Apebende who had decided to file a lawsuit and had rejected the offer to walk free with his friend and their phones.
Efforts by CrossRiverWatch to speak with him in person failed as CrossRiverWatch learnt that family members advised him against pitching himself against policemen and further aggravating the situation by talking to the press.
Further findings revealed Apebende and his friend are still recuperating from the shock of spending their Easter holidays as detainees and a family member told CrossRiverWatch that “they were seriously harassed by other inmates.”
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