IIP PANEL ON SARS: 8 Petitioners Seeks N50m Compensation for Unlawful Torture and Detention

By Shola Akingboye, 7th November 2020

Eight complainants from Southern Kaduna Friday told the Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) on SARS and other units of the Nigerian Police Force, sitting in Abuja how Inspector Cornelius Agbo, a SARS operative mobilised his colleagues under the FCT Police Command to arrest, torture and detain them unlawfully for two weeks based on ethnic sentiments.

The complainants include: Tony Duchi, Silas Daniel, Suleiman Yabganya, Mba Dauda Kibori, Richard Elisha, Moses Williams, Jonathan Tagwai and Gideon Yohanna.

The complainants who spoke through their counsel, Samuel Yusuf informed the panel that Inspector Agbo repeatedly told them that they are making them (the complainants) to pass through the ordeal because they are from Southern Kaduna.

After the panel headed by retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima admitted his annexures including the First Information Report (FIR) with which the Police charged the complainants, Samuel Yusuf Esq told the panel that there is a clear case of discrimination which contravenes relevant sections of the Nigerian Constitution and the United Nations charter.

Against the foregoing, he prayed the panel for an order of Fifty Million Naira (N50m) compensation on behalf of the victims for their unlawful arrest, torture and detention.

The Councel stated that the complainants were only victims of circumstance as the actual persons who allegedly had issues with Inspector Agbo had left the scene where the victims were arrested before the inspector invited his fellow SARS officials to arbitrarily arrest them .

He said that many innocent people in the area became victims of SARS arrests on the account of the alleged attack on Inspector Agbo by some yet to be identified persons.

The complainants according to the Councel were arraigned in a Chief Magistrate Court in Keffi on holding charges which he noted is unknown to the law.

He used the opportunity to appeal to the panel to make recommendations to the federal government to stop the Police from replacing SARS with SWAT but to rather work towards having a Police force that has utmost respect for the citizens and rule of law.

Yusuf maintained that the petition which listed the FCT Police Command and the Inspector General of Police, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively stated that the petitioners were taken to court based on holding charges which is contrary to the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, that the alleged culprits who attacked Agbo are at large and the petitioners were being held until the actual culprits are found.

The panel adjourned the hearing to November 19, 2020 to enable service of fresh hearing notices to the parties for the continuation of hearing on that date.

In the same vein, a petition involving denial of access to justice and denial of ownership of land by some SARS operatives was mentioned before the panel.

The Police personnel are expected to appear before the panel on November 18, 2020 to respond to allegations of seizure of title documents allegedly belonging to Mr. Gabriel Ofoma by some SARS operatives.

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