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Human Rights

SARS Policemen keep man in dungeon, demands N2.9 million for his release

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Samuel Edache in detention [Photo Credit: Satellite Times]
Samuel Edache in detention [Photo Credit: Satellite Times]

For over three months Samuel Edache, a Nigerian citizen from Nasarawa State, has been languishing in the dreaded detention facility of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS), sometimes unable to tell the difference between day and night. He is not sure what his offence is just as the Police has failed to bring forward his accuser.

In the early days of his detention, the Investigative Police Officer (IPO), only known as Mr. Adamu (telephone number withheld), demanded N500,000 from the detainee to enable him and his police team travel to Niger Republic to investigate allegations brought against Edache by an accused whose identity remains a mystery. After the detainee’s wife, Teresa Edache, had negotiated and paid in July 2018 a N100,000 “investigation fees” to the SARS operatives, the story changed. The Police investigators said they could no longer travel to Niger Republic, citing the Boko Haram insurgency and concerns for their own safety. They instead demanded that the detainee’s wife paid N2.8 million as “out-of-court settlement” with the faceless accuser.

Running to SATELLITE TIMES for help in what she said was her last resort to see that her husband’s ordeal comes to an end, Teresa Edache said her husband, who was a car dealer has not been charged to court in the three months he has stayed in the cell at F-SARS in Area 1, Abuja.

“They came to my shop in Lafia, Nasarawa State, to arrest my husband on 22nd July, 2018. I kept calling his mobile to have an idea where they had taken him to but they wouldn’t allow him pick my calls. Four days later, the SARS called me and said my husband was being detained at F-SARS in Area 1, Abuja. When I came to see him, they told me to bring 500 thousand naira for investigation, urging me to so do unless I want my husband to stay long in the police cell,” Mrs. Edache narrated.

The mother of two who must leave her one-year-old and 3-year-old children in the care of a 13-year-old nephew each time she braves the 3-hour journey by road from Lafia to Abuja added that the Police had continued to turn down her request to speak face-to-face with her husband.

“You can imagine the torture of travelling over 200 kilometres by road for hours only to get to SARS and you cannot spend even three minutes with your husband and you are made to travel another 200 kilometres back. I am allowed to only give him food. They call him out from an inner building; he comes to a window and there is a wall between us so you hand over the food and before we can exchange a few words the Police are shouting at you to leave; so, I have no opportunity to verify from him that the Police said he bought a Jeep from some armed robbers and sold it to a Customer in Niger Republic,” she revealed amidst sobs.

According to Teresa Edache’s brother who was privileged to speak with the detained man and had become involved in the efforts to secure his freedom; “the statement made by the Police IPO is that three armed robbers mentioned his (Samuel Edache) name that they stole the car and sold to him; meanwhile my brother-in-law is telling me that yes, he knows the people the Police is talking about but never as armed robbers and that the Jeep allegedly stolen from a widow cannot be the same Jeep he sold five years ago to a customer from Niger Republic”.

SATELLITE TIMES undercover reporter made it to SARS facility in Area 1 and managed to get a short interview and a photo of the detainee.

Samuel Edache in detention [Photo Credit: Satellite Times]

Samuel Edache in detention [Photo Credit: Satellite Times]

Mr. Edache suggested he was a victim of misrepresentation by an informant.

“The person who brought police to my wife’s shop is a police informant; he is working with the policemen who came to arrest me and it was the informant that mentioned my name and brought the police to my wife’s shop in Nasarawa. It is a set-up.

“The last time I had the business deal they are talking about was way back 2013 as a car dealer. I bought a car from them at 400,000 naira. But the Jeep they said was stolen happened in 2015. How can a Jeep be stolen in 2015 and I sold it in 2013? Does it mean that I bought it in 2015 and sold it in 2013?

“I need a lawyer, I don’t want any form of settlement by the police, I need a lawyer to get me out of this cell because I have no business with the criminals nor this particular stolen car”. Edache insisted.

Edache’s wife told SATELLITE TIMES that on Wednesday 5th September 2018, she was in church when the IPO called her to say she should come for a negotiation with the mystery complainant whom he had said was a widow. The idea was for the detainee to pay the widow for her allegedly stolen Jeep.

“We went there on Friday 7th September but we did not see any complainant in the station. Before then the IPO had asked me to bring 1.5 million for the payment but later when I got there with my brother the Police said the amount was now 2.8million for the jeep. They said the complainant had the receipt of the stolen vehicle.” Mrs. Edache recalled.

Eager to see the complainant with her own eyes, Teresa Edache sought to know why the widow did not show up. She was told by the IPO that the complainant would be invited to SARS only when the relatives of the robbery suspects were present at the station.

The detainee’s wife observed it was not the first time the IPO had failed to honour an arrangement made by him for her to meet with the complainant.

On one occasion of her brief exchanges with her husband, “My husband complained of having pile and being very sick; so I bought drugs for him but the Police collected it and threw it away” she lamented.

Reacting to Samuel Edache’s detention, Barrister Abrahim Abdulahim, a human rights lawyer at Path Solicitors told SATELLITE TIMES it was unlawful for the Police to detain

Edache without a legal backing and without the court giving an order for such detention.

“It is a violation of his human rights and nobody can detain someone for such a long time. Even if it is an arm robbery or terrorism case, the Police need to go to court for the court to determine it.” The lawyer explained.

Barrister Abdulahim went on to say that “maybe they have gone to court to secure an order for his detention. If there is an order from the court to detain him, then they can detain him in their cell. If there is no order of such, then it is an abuse of his rights and he can go to court to seek an enforcement of his rights and claim damages.

“It is about 10 million naira in damages for an unlawful detention. The most important thing is that whether he is a terrorist or a thief, let the court determine his detention, not the F- SARS police to keep him there for months. It is not allowed in law, they cannot do that,” he said.

It was gathered that the attention of the National Human Rights Commission Abuja has been drawn to the Samuel Edache’s case just as his wife continued to express fears that his life is in danger. Last Friday, a petition was sent to the Executive Secretary of the Commission for its intervention and protection of the rights and life of the citizen.

SATELLITE TIMES sought the response of the Nigeria Police Force over the detention of Citizen Edache. Media enquires by telephone calls, text messages and email sent to the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, were not responded to.

Human Rights

Displaced Kubwa Village traders cry out for justice

-over 3,000 traders become economic refugees

-send petitions to Presidential Committee, SERAP and ECOWAS

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Some of the displaced traders used to illustrate the story
Some of the displaced traders used to illustrate the story

Thousands of traders in Kubwa Village Market, Federal Capital Territory, have found themselves in a limbo following the takeover of the market they founded 30 years ago by a developer, said to have been imposed on them by authorities of Bwari Area Council, especially under the leadership of an outgoing Chairman, Mr. Musa Dikko. For decades, these ordinary market women and men traded in grains, household items, flours, vegetables, plastic materials, fish, meat, poultry products, groceries, footwear, second-hand clothing and just about everything under the sun.

Chairman Musa Dikko

Chairman Musa Dikko

In the wake of their displacement however, combined hundreds of millions of naira retail businesses have crashed from their heights. While some of the traders resorted to displaying their wares in open places and can be found by the roadside near the reconstructed market, especially around the NYSC Camp, Arab Road and Kubwa Express doing running battle on a daily basis with men of the Environmental Task Force who seize and destroy their goods, the majority of the market founders have crashed to the rock bottom finding no way to pick up the pieces.

A group of the displaced traders, led by Alhaji Samaila Ibrahim visited Satellite Times office and narrated their tales of woes in the hands of the developer, H & I Construction Nigeria Limited. According to Ismail, his group comprised former shopowners in the Kubwa Village Market who were thrown out without compensation to make way for the demolition and reconstruction of the market now renamed Maitama Ultra-Modern Market Kubwa.

Maitama Ultra-Modern Market Kubwa

“We are different from the petty traders you find occupying the open space outside the market. We were the stall and shade owners who built the market from the scratch before the developers came in and dispossessed us in collusion with top officials of the Bwari Area Council. I say we were dispossessed and displaced because no compensation of any form has been paid to us. It is like government building a road and they demolish your house but chose not to pay compensation,” Alhaji Samaila explained.

Continuing with his bitter narrative Samaila Ibrahim, who at one time was the Chairman of the Kubwa Village Traders Association, added that before the demolition he had several stalls with wares valued at over N15 million. With no market to sell his goods, he has lost everything. He said his children are facing so much difficulty in universities that the only option he has to keep them in school is to put his house on sale.

Another popular trader who also has hit ground zero is Alhaji Abubakar Dangaladima. For years he was the major meat supplier to the market, owning six open shades. Each day, he slaughtered and sold five cows. Smaller butchers come to him for the meat they sell. The renowned butcher who came to Satellite Times office logging a big sack full of receipts showed evidence that for each cow he slaughtered, he paid a slaughter fee of N800 to the FCT administration. He is left with no business after the demolition of the market. He put his loses at N17 million.

There is also a meat sub-market which comprised of almost a hundred traders in the meat value chain. All of those traders were displaced by the demolition, which in turn put the subsistence of their families under threat. Many of them can barely feed anymore.

As contained in a petition sent to several local and regional bodies, including the Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractices, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP), the displaced traders insisted that their human and economic rights have been violated by the actions of the developer and the Bwari Area Council.

“We are now economic refugees in our fatherland. We have been denied our rights to earn a living as citizens of Nigeria. Things have fallen apart in all our families. We are victims of gross injustice,” the petition reads in part.

Included in the long list of displaced traders are “Alhaji Umar Seriki Pawa who lost four open shade some of which he collected rent of about N150,000 annually from tenant traders while utilizing one for his own trading activities. Today, he has nothing to feed his family. Then there is Alhaji Ambusa who is popular for selling clothes and wrappers. He too lost a lot of his wealth worth about N7million. We have Alhaji Ismaila Sa’ad Abubakar who lost about N2 million. Alhaji Alwali was a big trader in tomatoes. Less than a year before the demolition, he had bought two N350,000 thousand each. Faced with hardship as a result of the demolition, he later sold his own house. Today, he and his family are cramped in a small rented apartment.

We also have Alhaji Abubakar Mai-Wanke who was popular for selling foodstuffs, especially beans. He lost two shops and a business valued at over N10 million.”

Perhaps the worst casualty of the market takeover is a female trader popularly known as Mama Abdulrasak. An indigene of Edo State, she had taken a big loan which she invested in her business. Without shops to sell her wares, every passing day drew her closer to penury. Hounded by debtors, she was severally dragged to police stations and detained. Finally unable to withstand the heat, she fled, leaving behind her children. Her family is disintegrated as her teenage daughter is said to have taken to prostitution while her son, having dropped out of school is roaming the street with drug abusers as friends.

Hide and Seek engagement

In 2016, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported of a meeting between the Bwari Area Council executive, the Kubwa/Maitama Village Market Traders Association and H & I developers, held at the Bwari Legislative Chambers. The meeting was aimed at finding an out-of-court solution to the issue of demolishing the existing markets for new ones and also to avoid damages that could result from the exercise.

The traders and market developers had been embroiled in a legal battle at the Abuja High Court 34 since 2014. Finally, the warring parties reached an out of court settlement, paving way for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

However, Samaila Ibrahim said the process leading to the MoU was shrouded in secrecy.

“We only heard there was an MoU, but we never saw it with our eyes. Many of us who are the key stakeholders were left in the dark. What happened was that the market developers and the Council Chairman, Musa Dikko, decided to employ the divide-and-rule tactics. They offered free shops each worth N10 million to the market executives, technically telling the rest of us to go to blazes,” Ismaila said.

Satellite Times obtained shop allocation letters, each dated 21st December 2017, issued by H & I Construction Nigeria Limited to Buhari Ahmed Sauwa (Chairman of the Market Association); Yusuf Musa Sauwa (Assistant Chairman); Mr. S.P Ndubisi Onuoha (LockUp Shop Chairman) and Ugwu Romanus Ifeanyi (Secretary). The documents, each titled: “Allocation Letter for An Open Shop at Maitama Ultra Modern Market, Kubwa Abuja”, show that each shop has a unit sales price of N4,150,000 but “being complimentary” was given free to the beneficiaries.

Allocation letter

Allocation letter

Ismaila said the shops were sold or re-sold at prices ranging from N8 million to N12 million depending on their strategic locations and/or if upstairs or downstairs, with downstairs shops attracting more value because of the easy access to customers.

“The question we must ask is how many ordinary traders can afford N10 million or N12 million for a shop? Obviously, the new market is not built for traders; rather for rich rent-seeking shylock middlemen. We have been excluded and denied the right to earn a living. This is inequality and sabotage of the economic agenda of the President Buhari government. We need justice” Samaila protested.

The Kubwa Market is said to be the oldest market in FCT with a size of 3.8 hectares. The market was relocated from the Maitama district of Abuja when the original inhabitants of Maitama were relocated to Kubwa.  It has 1,467 shops.

Satellite Times visited the office of H & I Construction on Anthony Enahoro Street, Utako Abuja. A staff member of the company by name Khalifa said he was not authorized to speak. This newspaper later contacted Engineer Rabiu of the same company on his mobile. He declined to make comments.

Similarly, several calls were made to Musa Dikko, the outgoing Chairman of Bwari Area Council. The phone rang out on each occasion as he refused to answer.

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Human Rights

Amnesty confirms 60 killed by Boko Haram in Rann

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The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. On 30 January 2019, hundreds of structures appear heavily burned. Environmental sensors remotely detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January 2019.

At least 60 people were killed following the 28 January devastating Boko Haram attack on Rann, a border town in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, Amnesty International has confirmed.

The organization also analyzed satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town. Many of the destroyed structures only date back to 2017, suggesting they were shelters for internally displaced people who came to Rann seeking protection.

“We have now confirmed that this week’s attack on Rann was the deadliest yet by Boko Haram, killing at least 60 people. Using satellite imagery we have also been able to confirm the mass burning of structures as Boko Haram unleashed a massive assault on Rann, most of which is now destroyed,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

Satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town

“This attack on civilians who have already been displaced by the bloody conflict may amount to possible war crime, and those responsible must be brought to justice. Disturbingly, witnesses told us that Nigerian soldiers abandoned their posts the day before the attack, demonstrating the authorities’ utter failure to protect civilians.”

Inadequate security

Alleged withdrawal of troops, triggered a massive exodus of civilians to Cameroon, as fear spread that Boko Haram would take advantage and attack the town. At around 9am on 28 January, a group of Boko Haram fighters arrived on motorcycles. They set houses ablaze and killed those left behind. They also chased after those who attempted to escape and killed some people outside the town.  Eleven bodies were found within Rann town, and 49 bodies were found outside.

The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. A closer look at one burned area on 30 January 2019 shows the severity of the damage. Many of the structures are new since 2017 suggesting they are shelters for IDPs living in the town.

The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. A closer look at one burned area on 30 January 2019 shows the severity of the damage. Many of the structures are new since 2017 suggesting they are shelters for IDPs living in the town.

Amnesty International was informed that about 50 people have not been accounted for. Those who took part in the burial explained what they saw.

According to an eyewitness: “Ten of us [Civilian Joint Task Force] came from Cameroon to Rann for the burial. When we arrived, we found and buried 11 corpses within the town, but the soldiers told us that they buried several others yesterday [30 January] who had decayed. Outside the town, we recovered and buried 49 dead bodies all with gunshot wounds.”

Aid agencies have reported that some 30,000 civilians have fled for the border with Cameroon in recent days, joining a further 9,000 who fled Boko Haram’s previous attack on Rann on 14 January.

Satellite evidence of mass burning

Amnesty International analyzed satellite images from 30 January 2019 showing hundreds of structures burned in the east, south and southeast of Rann. Environmental sensors detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January.

The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. On 30 January 2019, hundreds of structures appear heavily burned. Environmental sensors remotely detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January 2019.

In the 14 January attack, Boko Haram burned well over 100 structures in other areas of Rann. These two recent attacks have left most of the town heavily damaged or destroyed.

Amnesty International is calling on Nigerian authorities to investigate the alleged withdrawal of security forces of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) from Rann, which may have left tens of thousands of civilians exposed to this latest deadly attack.

“Boko Haram has consistently and deliberately targeted civilians in Rann, which makes the Nigerian authorities failure to protect people all the more unacceptable,” said Osai Ojigho.

“The authorities on both sides of the border must provide the supplies and safety that these people require. The Cameroonian authorities must also desist from forcing people to return until conditions are safe and they choose to do so voluntarily.”

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Human Rights

Woman slashes 11-year-old housemaid with kitchen knife

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Woman slashes 11-year-old housemaid with kitchen knife

A young girl only identified as Victoria is currently traumatized and in agonizing pain after she was severely inflicted with knife-injuries by her madam (identified as mummy Pemisire), for allegedly stealing milk.

The attention of this reporter was drawn to this case when a Twitter user, Adex Adebukola Crowngold (@AdexAdebukola) shared a gruesome photo of the child with the caption;

“My attention has just been called to this. The madam did this to her housemaid because she was accused of stealing milk.

“She’s in the hospital and the woman arrested. But justice must prevail. Location is at Ibadan.”

Eyewitness account

Speaking to SATELLITE TIMES newspaper, an eyewitness who begged to remain unnamed, gave an account as it happened on Friday, January 11, in Sanyo area, Ibadan.

“The girl ran out of their apartment with blood stains all over her and madam was still chasing her. The little girl said she tore her body with a knife.”

The 11-year-old victim was eventually rescued by concerned neighbours in Sanyo area, and taken to a nurse for first aid treatment before the Police came to get her the next morning.

When asked about the girl’s current condition and who was responsible for her hospital bill, the eyewitness said “I should think she is fine. I don’t know who is handling her bills. The Police took her to Montana hospital, Challenge area in Ibadan.”

Her madam, Pemisire, was however arrested same night of the incident by the Police and taken to a station in Sanyo, Ibadan.

“The madam should still be in the Police custody. That is if they haven’t released her yet, you know Nigerian Police. She hasn’t returned home since that night,” the witness added.

Efforts to reach the Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ajisebutu Adekunle via telephone were initially unsuccessful but he later responded with a text saying “the case is currently under investigation. The CP, Abiodun Odude, has directed that the case should be transferred to the state CIID Iyaganku immediately for discreet investigation and prosecution.”

 

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