Some travellers plying the Elele - Omerelu portion of the East-West road, enroute Owerri in Imo state have cried out over incessant arrest by Policemen stationed at Elele for having tattoos on their body.
One of the victims who gave his name as Chigozie Njoku while narrating his ordeal to National Network on Monday said as he and other passengers were travelling during the weekend, the Anti-Cultism unit of the police at Omerelu asked all the occupants of the commercial vehicle to alight for stop and search operation.
His words: “The Police asked all of us that are men to remove our clothes and those of us that have tattoos were singled out and held in the post while they ordered the driver to continue the journey with the other passengers”.
According to Mr. Njoku, his younger brother who also had tattoos on his body was held by the Police and accused of being a cultist despite the fact that no incriminating substance was found on him.
He alleged that his brother was released after parting with the sum of N9, 000.00 to the officers. He said upon their release, he and his brother had no choice than to board another vehicle going to Imo state since the bus that was conveying them had been ordered to continue the journey.
Another victim who did not want his name in print said he was arrested because he wore a rubber wrist band. He alleged that he was released when he paid some money to the Police Officers.
The commuters accused the Police at that route for employing what they called 'intimidating tactics' to extort monies from road users while calling on the Police authorities both at the State and federal levels to look into the activities of their personnel along the Elele-Omerelu strip of the East-West Road.
Meanwhile Mr. Festus Bonwin, a Port Harcourt based legal practitioner, while reacting to alleged arrest of people with tattoo inscription on their body, told National Network that no law in Nigeria prohibits people from having tattoos on their bodies.
The lawyer explained that although people view young men having tattoos as people who belong to one proscribed group or the other stressing that no law in the country stipulates that having a tattoo is a criminal offence.
The legal practitioner noted that drawing tattoos on the body has been an old practice by some people in the country even as he revealed that in some culture, tattoos on the body are believed to be a means of identification.
The spokesperson of the Rivers State Police Command and a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Nnamdi Omoni was yet to respond to text messages sent to him by our reporter to ascertain if the command has gotten reports on the arrest of people having tattoos on their body.