From Emmanuel Adeyemi Lokoja
Kogi state Public defender and citizens Right commission, has set up a special intervention committee to receive complaints, petitions and organise pubic hearing on human rights violations by the police especially the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).
The public hearing which commenced on Tuesday at the Nigeria Bar Association hall, Lokoja, received 6 petitions, while 4 persons testified before the special committee.
A Lokoja based legal practitioner, Lawrence Ilogbuna told the committee how one of his clients Mallam Salaudeen Abdulhameed was arrested in March 18 2017, by SARS operatives in his house at Okehi in the central senatorial district of Kogi state, charged to court on the 20th and later granted bail same day.
He explained that SARS operatives re arrested Salaudeen same day bail was granted and took him back to Lokoja, where he was detained in one of the police cells for over two years.
According to the lawyer, the 3 bedroom flat belonging to his client was demolished by SARS without court order, while in detention under the supervision of the Administrator of Okehi local government area, Alhaji Abdulrahman Ohiare.
When cross examined on the offence of the petitioner, the lawyer disclosed that the suspect was accused of mischief by fire in connection with the burnt down police station at Okehi.
Ilogbuna revealed that after several adjournments of the case, no mention was made and no trial until the report of the DPP from the ministry of justice was ready which exonerated the suspect of any link with the said violence and arson at Okehi.
Responding to the allegation, the head legal department of the police in Kogi state, denied involvement of police in the demolition of the suspect’s house at Okehi. She said the petition mentioned soldiers and not the police.
The police officer in charge of legal matters however, promised to get the case file and also reach out to all the officers alleged to be involved in the violation of human rights of citizens.
Other cases of alleged police brutality were also heard by the commission including that of one Mustapha Yusuf and his wife Fatima, who were alleged to have been taken away blindfolded by persons said to be dressed in SARS uniform.
Mr Jimoh momoh, father in-law of Mustapha narrated that SARS officers invaded the ogaminana area near FCE Okene and made away with his son in-law along side his wife with out any reason. He said the wife was released after 5 months in detention, while the husband is still with the police in Abuja.
The commission has adjourned hearing on the matter to Friday to enable the wife of Yusuf appear before it for more clarification.
Another case heard was the arrest of Suleiman Maryam by the men of SARS since 2017 and up till now his whereabout is still unknown.
Omoyole Toyin his sister told the commission that all efforts to locate him failed. She said members of the family and well wishers have combed police stations, hospitals mortuaries and correctional centres in the bid to know what happened to him with out success .
In another case, while others failed to see their loved ones, a victim of police brutality, Haruna Alhaji Edugbo from Ofu local government area of Kogi state was however successful as he was able to see his seized car by the police. He told the commission that he bought a car and shortly after had an accident which resulted in serious injuries.
Edugbo said while he was bedridden, SARS operatives stormed his village Aloji in Ofu local government area and towed away his car. He said later the same team of SARS went and arrested his younger brother on an allegation of being in possession of a stolen vehicle.
According to the victim after thorough investigation,his younger brother was released, but the vehicle was not released since 2015 when it was towed away.
He disclosed that on his personal efforts, he discovered the car parked among many others seized by SARS and dumped at SARS base inside A police division , lokoja.