A civil society organisation, Advocate for Peoples Rights and Justice, has petitioned the Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory, Sadiq Bello, over the continued detention of a graduate, Hope Nathan, his uncle, Gabriel Samuel, and his friends, Gabriel Joshua and Emmanuel Joseph.
The group stated that Nathan was arrested for allegedly buying a stolen Toyota Rav4 SUV from one Ali for N800,000, adding that the car seller was detained for just 12 days and granted bail by the police, while Nathan, his uncle and friends were kept in custody for refusing to cough out N400,000 each for bail.
The APRJ National Coordinator, Victor Giwa, in his petition dated February 20, 2018, threatened to organise a mass protest against the police in Abuja, if the men were not released by the force.
The lawyer explained that Nathan, who was preparing for his national youth service, and others had been in the police custody since January, 2017.
The petition read in part, “Sometime in January, 2017, while he was on his way from his village to Abuja from Makurdi, he picked a friend of his, Gabriel Joshua, who was also in company with his friend, Emmanuel Joseph, on their way to Abuja.
“Shortly, after their drive in Makurdi, they were accosted by a police team, who demanded the documents of the vehicle. The police were curious, and on further inquiry decided to call the phone number on one of the documents which revealed that the said vehicle was stolen.
“The suspects made useful statement which revealed that Nathan bought the car from one Ali, an indigene of Benue State, who resides in Mararaba, Nasarawa State. Ali was invited and detained at the Benue State Police Command, but curiously, he was granted bail after about 12 days in detention while Nathan and his friends were transferred to Abuja.”
The group further alleged that the SUV was later released to the original owner who could not identify Nathan and his friends when they were paraded before him.
“Our investigation further revealed that after the release of the car to the owner, the investigating police officer asked the suspects to pay N400, 000 each for their bail. The suspects were threatened with continued stay in detention for at least a year, should they fail to provide the said sum.
“To justify the continued detention of the suspects, the officers of the SARS brutally forced the suspects to confess and admit to the commission of the offence of armed robbery by brutal torture which include gunshots on their legs,” the petition stated.
Giwa further said that men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad also visited Nathan’s home where they arrested his uncle, Samuel, and also carted away his clothes and electronic gadgets.
“Amazingly, the officers of SARS picked up Gabriel Samuel, the uncle of Nathan, who merely came for a visit after he heard of the continued detention of his nephew. The SARS officers also collected electronic gadgets found in Nathan’s house and his clothes. Furthermore, they also threatened the suspects that they will not be taken to court unless they pay N150,000 each.”
But the FCT police spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, said he was not aware of the case or the petition and promised to find out from the appropriate department.