IGP Usman Alkali Baba

IGP Baba

…Calls on IGP to intervene, end atrocities of the anti-kidnapping unit of Imo state

…Suspects with gunshot injuries, detained for months

…Officer seized suspects’ phones, refused them to contact family members

…Police asked for N500,000 as money for bail

Juliana Francis

The Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma, has urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Alkali Usman Baba, to urgently intervene and end the atrocities of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit of Imo State Police Command.

According to Nwanguma, the Unit was still doing all that the disbanded Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) did, leading to the #EndSARS uprising in 2020.

He added: “The current CP Imo State Command, CP Ahmed Barde does not respond to complaints about the excesses of that clearly rogue unit headed by one Supol Ola. Last December 2022, RULAAC received information concerning a case of two young men who were arrested one evening and taken to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit at Tiger Base, Owerri and detained without being told what their offenses were. Their statements were not obtained until the next day when they were brought out and asked to make statements.  They stated that they didn’t know what offense they committed that warranted their arrest. They stated that they drove to an ATM stand along Wetheral Road, Owerri in the evening of the previous day to draw some cash and found themselves rounded up by two armed police officers who were part of a convoy.

“The Officers searched them and their vehicles thoroughly and found nothing incriminating and then ordered them into one of their vehicles and drove them to Tiger Base. Other officers drove in their own cars.

“After reading their statements, the officer interrogating them asked them to write that they belong to a cult group, but they objected and said they don’t belong to any cult group. One of the young men told the Officer that he was a fresh graduate of law from Imo State university awaiting law school, and the other, his electrician who came and repaired some electrical fault in his house and they both drove to the ATM stand for him to withdraw cash to pay him for the work he did for him.

“The officer insisted and used different objects to brutalise them, including using machetes to flog them at their back, inflicting injuries on them, to intimidate and compel them to admit to a crime they did not commit.

“Meanwhile, the officers had seized their phones and never allowed them to contact anyone. The law graduate said he was lucky to have sighted a former schoolmate who turned out to be an officer at the station and he beckoned on him, and he came, and he told him his story.  He then gave him his elder brother’s number and he called and informed his elder brother of his whereabouts and ordeal.

“His elder brother contacted RULAAC and RULAAC called the Officer in Charge of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, Supol Ola and inquired about the case.  Ola said he will check to find out and revert.  Hours later, RULAAC called Ola back and he said he checked and found that the two young men were arrested in error.  The officers who arrested them said they suspected their movement and arrested them.

“RULAAC requested that he should release them. He agreed and asked that their relatives should come to see him. When efforts by the young men’s relatives to access the station were frustrated because ‘people are not allowed into the station’, RULAAC also called to inform Ola and he asked that we should give them his number to call him, and we did.

“To cut the long story short, the young men were not released that day- even after Ola confirmed that they were innocent. This is aside from the fact that they even deserved an apology for unlawful detention, torture, and intimidation. They still had to pay before they were released. They were asked to bring N500,000. But they ended up paying less before they were released and warned never to let anyone know that they paid money with a threat that they will re-arrest them and charge them for Kidnapping.

“When RULAAC spoke with the young men after they were released, they informed us that many people they met in the cell were being held incommunicado without any of their relatives knowing their whereabouts.  Some had spent weeks and months with gunshot injuries festering and smelling and in a bad state of health.  They live in starvation. They are never charged to court

“RULAAC forwarded this information to the CP Imo but he ignored the messages and phone calls. RULAAC calls on the IGP to intervene to sanitize Imo State Police Command.”

 

 

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