From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Kaduna-based Alhaji Mahdi Shehu is many things – a businessman, the Chairman of Dialogue Group of Companies and also a self-professed whistleblower. The Katsina indigene shares his experiences of being detained by the police following allegations of financial fraud he levelled against the Katsina State Government.
Alhaji Shehu had sometime in July through accused the Katsina State Government of squandering N52.6 billion, amongst other alleged illegal expenses, in the past five years from the State’s security escrow accounts.
The Katsina State Government has since accused Shehu of inciting the people against the government in order to make it unpopular.
The businessman, who describes himself as an activist and a whistleblower, told our Daily Sun in a brief interview that he saw hell and injustice in police detention for 15 days, all without being charged to court.
‘The reason why I was detained was that the Governor of Katsina State, alongside the SSG, together with the Attorney-General, two traditional rulers, one businessman, and a Senator… went and met the IGP, who asked the Governor of Katsina State to write a written complaint against me that I have made governance impossible for the Government of Katsina State, that I am confusing people, that I am dolling out figures and documents that can make the government unpopular. That was the reason. I see no offence in that. This is a democracy, if you don’t want criticism then you don’t have any reason being in a democratic space in the first place. On no account, without even hearing my own side of the story, was I declared guilty. Therefore, they connived, converged and synergised to ensure that I am silenced.
‘But let me tell you one thing, this is the biggest mistake they have ever done. If they think by this wicked irresponsible arrest they have checkmated me, they have made the biggest miscalculation. From now on, it is going to be full-blown, not half-blown, from now on it is going to be straight forward, direct clear and targeted position.’
Shehu also spoke of how he was bitten by a snake whilst in detention:
‘My story of snakebite is very factual and very true. When I was taken to Asokoro police station in the first instance, on the 23rd of November at about 9:30 pm, I had the need to go and pray. I went and eased myself. I was taken to a toilet [that] not even a pig will squat there. I came out and I said let me just find a way outside where many cars have been packed for decades. It was on getting there that I was bitten by a snake. I was taken to the National Hospital. I had an anti-venom and pain reliever… I was taken into a ward where seven females were admitted, and I was the only male inside. By the following morning when I realised that there was ganged conspiracy against me, I demanded that I may be discharged to go and get medical treatment, and upon the discharge, the police said that they cannot allow me to go and get treatment, that I must remain in their custody. They took me to a police hospital, at the police hospital they said they have brought a suspect and not a patient. I was kept there for two days as a suspect and not a patient, not given even Panadol. Two days after they said the IGP had ordered that I should be remanded into 4 CID detention cell at Area 10, that was where I was taken. I was lucky to locate to a cell where Obasanjo was incarcerated by late General Sani Abacha.
‘The snake [that bit me] was quite huge; there was the picture of the snake, not even the police were able to call snake catchers, but the snake was caught and it was lying there for everybody to see. What baffled me is that I didn’t even know where the IGP got his level of socialisation that a suspect you ordered for his arrest was bitten by a snake under your custody and you turned a blind eye to his medication. After all, what you are after is to incarcerate him to fulfil your obligation towards those who assigned you to do this job. It is my imagination, but I hope one day he will sit down and reflect.’
On the state of his business following his detention, he said:
‘While I was in detention my business did not suffer any damage because I have an organised structure; with or without me the structure operates because it is well structured and I have no reason whatsoever to doubt the capacity of my staff to run these businesses even after my demise.
‘However, I am still treating the snake bite.’