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How man arrested by SARS five years ago disappeared without trace

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The last time Oluwaseyi Adesuyi was seen alive in public was on July 5, 2013, when he was paraded as a suspect before journalists in connection with a high-profile kidnapping.

Since then, like a mirage at dusk, he has completely disappeared without a trace.

The police, which arrested and paraded him, are unable to say what happened to him. They cannot produce any record of his arrest. He did not escape from police custody. There is also no evidence he was charged to court. Nobody knows his whereabouts.

His family has searched for him at every police formation that mattered in Lagos, Ondo, and Abuja but has come out with absolutely no information about what happened to him.

Arrested for allegedly buying stolen goods

Oluwaseyi, a dropout from the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, traded in used mobile phones and laptops at Alaba International Market, Lagos. On June 2013, as he was driving around the Okokomaiko area of Lagos, he was accosted by men of the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit of the police, who arrested him and impounded his Nissan Pathfinder SUV.

The police claimed he had bought a laptop stolen from Kehinde Bamigbetan, then chairman of the Ejigbo Local Development Council (he is the current Lagos State Commissioner for Information) who was kidnapped two months earlier.

Mr Bamigbetan was released a week later by his abductors after paying an undisclosed amount as ransom.

For three days, Mr Adesuyi did not return home. Nobody knew his whereabouts. His mobile phone was switched off. Worried at his sudden disappearance, one of his friends called his parents, who live in Akure, some 310 kilometres north of Lagos, to ask if they had seen him.

His parents had not seen him in months before then. They were terrified. But as deeply devout Christians. they prayed and hoped that something terrible had not happened to him. They checked with his siblings who were in Lagos at the time, but no one had a clue of his whereabouts.

The Adesuyis searched for Oluwaseyi at police stations and other places they thought he might be for several days without success.

“It is better for one’s child to die than be missing,” Elizabeth Adesuyi, Oluwaseyi’s mother, said. Despite the unsuccessful search, she was relentless. She prayed and fasted. Some days later, her prayers were answered.

Someone suggested they should check at the SARS office at Ikeja. They did and found his name on a register of arrested suspects. But at that point, their luck ran out of steam.

“We asked to see him. We wanted to know what happened, nobody spoke to us. We were going there every day, but nobody spoke with us. But since they said he was with them, we knew that he was alive,” Mrs Adesuyi said.

The family said the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) handling Oluwaseyi’s case was identified by an alias: Jamaica, which most of his colleagues called him. Members of SARS hardly wear the conventional police uniform. They are mostly dressed in mufti or branded SARS T-shirts and vests without name tags.

“They said this person you are looking for is an armed robber. Just for us to see him, they said no way. Till today we’ve never seen him,” she said.

Swindled by a police officer

Several weeks after the family’s repeated visits to SARS office without being allowed to see Oluwaseyi, Mrs Adesuyi received a call from a man who said he was detained in the same cell as Oluwaseyi but for a different offence. The man told Mrs Adesuyi that as he was being released from detention, Oluwaseyi had begged him to call his family. He also instructed them to speak with one of the officers at SARS office, who he believed will help secure his release from detention.

“So, we called the number they gave us, and the man said he will help us. But he said that the phone they sold was an armed robber that got it and the vehicle he got, it was an armed robber that owns it,” she said.

She said the policeman who did not identify himself, demanded a bribe of N200,000.00, to help them secure the release of their son. They said because they were desperate to see Oluwaseyi they paid. But after paying, the policeman tried to squeeze them for more money. When they could not afford the money, he stopped answering their calls and started giving them the runaround. Eventually, his number became unavailable. They later learned that the policeman had retired.

A mother’s cry for help

As her tired voice cracks with emotion over the phone, Mrs Adesuyi reminisced about her son, wondering what has become of him. She said of all her children, Oluwaseyi was most easy going but added that he has always tried to make something out of his life.

“He is gentle. He doesn’t fight. He is my third son. He was attending Adeniran Ogunsanya, but little time he said no mommy, he was no longer going. That was how he got himself involved in buying and selling. Both me and his daddy we had no interest in it. We didn’t like that he was even selling things at Alaba. But he said they get things from China they bring it in and they buy from them,” she said.

She said they just want to behold her son again.

“God says he is not dead, and I believe him. What we want if for us to trace him to any prison yard so that I will go and see him. That is all I want,” she said.

We have no records of arrested suspects – SARS

When this reporter visited the SARS office at Ikeja, where Oluwaseyi was last seen, for information about his whereabouts, he was told there was no way of knowing.

The head of SARS in Lagos, Peter Gana, a chief superintendent of police, said he only resumed this July and that he was the fifth head of the unit since 2013.

“I cannot help you because you don’t have the name of the officers in charge of the case at the time,” he said.

When asked to check the unit’s record since the name of the suspect was known, Mr Gana said the unit did not keep proper records of arrests.

“Proper records of arrest are not kept. If I take you to were statements are kept you will see that everything is placed on the floor and on top each other. Some of them are even soaked with water. The incident happened five years ago. Even if we see the file, I am sure it would be unreadable; water would have made the ink unreadable,” he said.

Mr Gana explained that he makes copies of cases he is directly involved in and takes them to his house because of the poor storage facility at the SARS office. He further explained how the unit could not find the record of a case that was investigated in February 2018 before he resumed.

Mr Gana, however, suggested that this reporter should reach out to the head of SARS in the state in 2013, Abba Kyari, for information about Oluwaseyi’s whereabouts.

When reached for comments, Abba Kyra, who is now in charge of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, said he cannot remember the case in question.

“Wallahi I can’t remember anything. It’s a long time. Why didn’t they look for him (a) long time ago until now?” he asked in an SMS.

When told the efforts the Adesuyis put to see Oluwaseyi, he did not reply.

SARS was set up as a unit of the police to combat some of the most violent crimes in the country. However, the unit has endeared to itself a notoriety that is hard to shake-off due to the highhandedness of its officers. SARS operatives have been accused of harassment, extortion, torture and serial extrajudicial killings and other human right abuses.

Last August, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was virtually forced to order an overhaul of the unit’s operations following weeks of social media-driven protest, tagged #EndSARS, calling on the government to scrap the units.

A rigged criminal justice system

Segun Awosika, an activist who played a leading role in the #EndSARS campaign, said that the disappearance of Oluwaseyi highlights the problem with the criminal justice system in Nigeria.

“This just proves how dangerous the path is to having proper policing in a country such as Nigeria. A country with so much population and so much risk in terms of policing to the extent that people disappear at will and nobody cares. You cannot even time documents, you can’t even trace anything and get to an accountable process of identifying what could have probably happened to anybody. This puts everybody in danger.

“If a guy was picked on the streets or under the bridge today for doing nothing, just for roaming; he can be mixed-up with hardened criminals and killed within 24 hours and nobody will be able to trace him because there is no paperwork.

“So, the criminal justice system by itself is dangerously rigged to the point where nobody is safe,” he said.

He said the best way to solve the problem is a sincere reform of the police that includes a custody management system that will ensure that people arrested by the police do not disappear without a trace.

“The reform that we are looking at must be holistic to the point where we have what they called custody management system where nobody would be detained without a proper record that anybody can trace from anywhere and that is the future for policing in Nigeria,” he said.

 

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Appeal Court reverses conviction of Gen. Sani by Court Martial, orders re-trial

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja has set aside the decision of a Special Military Court Martial to convict former Chief of Transformation and Innovation at the Nigerian Army Headquarters, Maj.- Gen. Ibrahim Sani.

Justice Abubakar Yahaya led two other justices of the appellate court to void the proceedings leading to the conviction and sentencing.

The judgment given on April 18 on appeal marked  CA/A/791/2017  was contained in an enrolled order made available to newsmen by Mr Mahmud Magaji (SAN), Counsel for the appellant (Sani) on Thursday in Abuja.

The appellate court was of the view that the appellant was denied fair hearing in the trial.

“The proceedings and judgement of the special court martial in respect of charge No: NA/COAS/GI/39/16 filed before the lower Special Court Martial is hereby set aside.

“An order is made for the retrial of the charges against the appellant by another Special Court Martial’’, Yahaya held.

Speaking with newsmen, Magaji  said: “by this decision, setting aside the judgement of the Special Court Martial, the proceedings, conviction and sentence of the court never existed in the eyes of the law.

“They are null and void. Therefore, the Nigerian Army is obligated to obey the judgement by restoring the appellant to his rank as a Major General with all his benefits and entitlements.”

Sani was arraigned on July 4, 2016 on a nine-count charge bordering on service property, making of false documents and cheating.

The alleged offence were punishable under Sections 56(2), 66(a), 90(a) and 113(3) of the Armed Forces Act (AFA), CAP A20, LFN, 2004.

The charge was a full out from an alleged criminal role he played in the management of a large parcel of land allocated to the Nigerian Army in Asokoro area of the FCT.

He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and in the course of the arraignment, count 9 was struck out for being duplication of count 3.

At the close of the prosecution’s case, the appellant made a no-case submission in respect of all the remaining 8 counts.

The Court Martial, in a ruling on the no-case submission, struck out count 5 on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case linking the appellant with the alleged unlawful act.

The appellant also challenged the jurisdiction of the Court Martial on alleged contravention of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Sani further challenged the competence of the president of the special court and a member and other issues bordering on his right to fair hearing, which were eventually dismissed.

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Man collects N850,000 bride price, fails to give daughter’s hand in marriage

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A 47-year-old man, Jibrin Attom, on Thursday appeared in an Ajegunle Magistrates’ Court, Apapa, Lagos, for allegedly failing to give out his daughter’s hand in marriage after collecting N850,000.

Attom, who resides in Olodi-Apapa Area of Ajegunle, Lagos, is facing a charge of obtaining money under false pretence.

The Prosecutor, Sergeant Kolade Tedunjaye, told the court that the defendant collected N850,000 from the complainant, Mr Mohammed Umar-Abdul, with a promise that he would give him daughter for marriage.

“The defendant’s daughter, Kathoma, and the complainant had agreed to get married and her father had collected the money as part of the bride price.

“But his daughter left the complainant and got married to another man,” Tedunjaye said.

The prosecutor said the complainant then demanded for refund of his money, but did not get it.

“The complainant reported the case to the police and the defendant was arrested.’’

According to the prosecutor, the offence contravened Section 314 of Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The section provides 15 years jail term for offenders.

The Magistrate, Mr B. M. Amore, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N100, 000 with two sureties in like sum and adjourned the case until May 6 for continuation of hearing. 

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Umar Mohammed Bago, Man With Passion For Service

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-Why He Wants To Be Reps Speaker 

Umar Mohammed Bago is not just another member of the Federal House of Representatives, he is a man that has the wherewithal and the qualities of a leader of the 21st Century, whose antecedents show that he could turn a stone to bread and bring water out of the rock. 

The people of Chanchanga  Federal Constituency in Niger State knew better,  when they voted for Bago to be their representative in the House of Reps in 2011  and repeated the same in 2015 and 2019. 

Bago has since proven the be the best man for the job with the way he has influenced development to the area and touched the lives of the people in the constituency. 

The 45-year-old politician is an alumnus of the Federal Government College, Jos and he graduated with a degree in Political Science from Uthman Dan Fodio University,  Sokoto and holds a Post Graduate Diploma. 

His educational career continued as he went ahead to obtain Masters Degrees in Management, Business Administration and Finance and he is an alumnus of the prestigious Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. 

Bago cut his teeth in banking at the Central Bank of Nigeria, United Bank of Africa, Standard Trust Bank (STB), FCMB,  and Afribank. 

As a member of the Federal House of Representatives, his experiences are for the records. 

He was a member of the House Committee on Banking and Currency,  Appropriation and Communication Technology,  Defense, as well as Loans and Debts. 

He has also served in other committees such as National Planning and Economic Development,  Media and Publicity,  and he is a member of several civil societies and donor agencies. 

In 2015, Bago was made the Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime,  Safety,  Education and Administration. 

While some of his colleagues could not boast of making differences in the green chamber,  Bago has so far moved 20 motions on the floor of the House, sponsored 15 bills and co-sponsored several others. 

The people of Bago’s constituency are living testimonies of his people-oriented empowerment programmes and constituency projects. 

The cerebral nationalist is well travelled, exposed,  urbane and speaks Nupe,  Hausa and Yoruba fluently.

Bago is one of the politicians that have no baggage and people believe that the House of Representatives deserves such a politician to be it’s leader. 

Some of his thoughts have become reference points for those, who believe in quality leadership and progressive minded politicians. 

Bago once stated that “I observed with continued amazement and curiousity that the issue of equity in geopolitical balancing  as enshrined in the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, has not been seen and taken seriously rather the issue of capacity and competence is being touted.

“The question is capacity and competence in what? To move motions and bills? Chair committee sessions? Educational background? Party loyalty? humbly speaking; if these are the indices to define capacity and competence, I am very qualified.”

Bago  believes that if its the job of Speaker that “we are talking about, the Speaker will not be moving motions or Bills. Only Speaker Yakubu Dogara had moved a bill on the floor of the house of representatives in recent history of the house over the last twenty years.”

He stressed that a great speaker could  not emerge from disdain for the constitution with which he will be sworn in, adding that the capacity and competence must be situated within constitutional prescriptions. 

“Lastly the Speaker must enjoy earned confidence of members out of his relatability capacity and quotient 

“An effective Speaker must be able to ride on provable ability that every member  and stakeholders will find comfort  and accommodation in him, by reputation. 

“I am called Mr.Relatable because this is what my life embodies and it did not start with the aspiration to be Speaker,” he said. 

Bago was quoted to have said that the demand for equity is at the “nucleus of my aspiration before my nature as a very relatable personality or my capacity and competence,  and so demanding  for equitable treatment is not about indulging or being gratuitous to the North Central, rather its fact based and well earned, not frivolous; from the facts that the North Central zone gave our party the third highest votes at the 2019 Presidential election, to the zone never had a speaker of house of Representatives in 20years since 1999! 

“These are facts! Of course in the mix is the need for a youth inclusion at that level of our political administration; these are claims that are real making my aspiration legitimate, fair and just…”

He said further that “I just watched the Seun Okinbaloye’s Politics Today and saw how the North Central geopolitical zone asking for equity was dismissively and condescendingly referred to by my colleague Hon. Abdulmumini, when he said there are other positions “within” the house leadership that the North Central can be “given”, affirming that south west zone(lagos) that gave our party 2million votes and has Vice President of Nigeria by entitlement should also get the Speaker House of Representatives while Northcentral geopolitical zone that gave APC/President Buhari 2.4million votes should settle for Chief whip?Or Deputy Whip..etc! My heart bleeds…”

He maintained that a zone that in 20 years had never produced Speaker or Deputy inspite of huge support for APC…where is equity, justice, fairness that the Nigerian constitution  and that of APC prescribed. 

“A case of a father of six openly showing favouritism to a child out of  the six, in a six bedroom  house is giving two rooms to the favourite child and asking four others to take the remaining four rooms and sending one child to go and stay in the boy’s quarters, even when he has been a good child… hmmm…May God bless Nigeria…” he said. 

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