FROM MURPHY GANAGANA, JOS
A domestic servant at the Abuja residence of Miss Funke Obasanjo, a daughter to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, is reportedly languishing in police detention for almost two months in connection with alleged disappearance of jewellery in her room.
The man, aged 34, whose name was given as Mr. Reuben Godwin, was said to have been picked up by two plain-clothed policemen on February 8, 2016, at No.15, Frederick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, Abuja residence of the ex-president’s daughter (popularly known as Blue House), and had remained in police cell till the time of filing this report yesterday.
His distraught wife, Mrs. Gladys Reuben, a mother of two, told Saturday Sun in a voice laden with pain and emotion that since his ordeal began on that ill-fated day, her hitherto ebullient and chubby husband had turned a ghost of his former self, having been severely tortured by the police at the Asokoro divisional headquarters, where he was initially kept for two weeks, and later at the dreaded Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) detention facility in Abuja, where he had been for almost six weeks.
Ironically, she said until trouble started on February 8, her hubby, who hails from Gonje village in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, had worked as a cook for nine years with Miss Funke Obasanjo, and had been a loyal, dedicated and honest servant throughout the period.
This, she said, was why his family was at a loss as to the ill-treatment he was subjected to by the police at the prompting of the former president’s daughter on suspicion that he might have stolen the jewellery allegedly kept in a container inside a safe in her room while she was away from the country in October last year, to undergo a surgery abroad.
In an encounter with Saturday Sun on Thursday, Gladys gave a narrative of her husband’s predicament, with the hope that justice and freedom shall come his way someday.
Her words: “We are confused and shocked at what is happening. This whole thing started on February 9, 2016, when my husband resumed at Ms Funke Obasanjo’s residence for his normal duties. The woman had just returned from a medical trip abroad, and after my husband resumed, he went straight to the kitchen for his duties because he worked as a cook.
“Surprisingly, there is this Barrister called Osita Aboloma, who is a friend to Funke, he came into the house with two men in mufti, who eventually turned out to be policemen from Asokoro Division in Abuja. Then, Ms Funke took them upstairs to her room, conducted them round the room, and showed them a safe, which she claimed, was not broken, but said that the contents –the jewellery, had been removed.
“Later, they took him away with a driver in the house to the station, but after some time Funke’s friend, the lawyer, who brought the policemen asked them to release the driver and they held only my husband. They brought him, to our house at Yanyan Gwandara in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State to conduct a search, but found no jewellery.
“After the search, they went away with my ATM Card, my laptop, one silver-coloured wrist watch which Funke gave to my husband as a gift, and one old Ipad belonging to her which had been abandoned and my husband was using. Then, they also invited me to the police station to write a statement; they asked me to write that the ATM Card and the laptop belonged to me; the police also wanted me to write that the Ipad was stolen by my husband and given to me, and I said no. They forced my husband to write incriminating statements under duress; the lawyer asked the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), at Asokoro Division to torture my husband to admit that he took the jewellery, when he didn’t, and he refused.
“When my husband consistently maintained his innocence, Funke’s friend, the lawyer asked them to transfer my husband to SARS office so that they can continue the intimidation and torture for him to admit an offence he did not commit. So, after two weeks at Asokoro, they transferred him to SARS, where he had been detained up till Friday, April 1. At SARS, they really battered him, and he could no longer walk when I saw him. He was an emotional wreck; he was a pitiable sight.
“At SARS, he has continued to maintain his innocence, but they would neither charge him to court nor release him on bail. They took him to the commissioner of police in charge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) command; they also took him to the office of the Inspector General of Police. I do not really understand what they want in all these except for the fact that Ms Funke Obasanjo is the daughter of a big man, a former president.
“The most baffling aspect of it is that it is not only my husband that has access to the house; Funke’s driver has access to the house, so also is the Barrister who is her friend. The Barrister accused my husband of stealing the jewellery because he felt Funke would not survive a cancer surgery she went for abroad, when indeed, my husband never knew that her trip was for medicals as she only told him she was going to write an examination. What they are doing is sheer wickedness. The police told me they were taking my husband to the Upper Area Court at Gudu District (Friday) but I am yet to see him in court; I am patiently waiting there”, she had remarked yesterday morning.
At the Asokoro residence of the ex-president’s daughter, mum was the word as a guard who refused to reveal his identity, declined comments on the issue and told our correspondent that Ms Funke was not available. All entreaties for him to avail us her mobile telephone numbers also proved abortive.
However, the FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr. Wilson Enalegwu, confirmed the development when contacted on the telephone. The police boss initially expressed doubts that the suspected cook, Reuben, had been in detention for almost two months unjustifiably, but when Saturday Sun insisted that he had been held since February 8, Enalegwu said he was held under court remand.
While admitting that the suspect was brought before him at some point in the course of investigations, the police boss said the IGP, Mr. Solomon Arase, never met with him (suspect). He also said he was yet to confirm the monetary value of the allegedly stolen jewellery when our correspondent requested to know the worth of the items.
“I think he was detained for that period based on court warrant, I will find out this other angle you have just told me, but I have called my DCP in charge of investigations to give me a full briefing on that case. Please give me up till 9.am on Friday so that I can give you the details”, the CP had told Saturday Sun at 6.40pm on Thursday.
However, at 9.17am on Friday, he called our correspondent to inform that he was attending a function at the Eagle Square in Abuja, and promised to get in touch as soon as the event was over. He had yet to fulfill his promise as at the time of filing this report, neither had the police arraigned Reuben at 12.30pm.