Human RightsNews

ENDSARS: How We Were Tortured, Forced To Implicate Saraki In Offa Robbery Incident – Petitioners

Two petitioners at the Kwara State Judicial Panel of Enquiry investigating cases of police brutality in Ilorin, the state capital have narrated how men of the defunct Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) tortured them to implicate former senate president, Bukola Saraki, in the bloody April 5, 2018, Offa robbery incident.

The petitioners, Kehinde Gobir and Shuaib Jawondo, while appearing before the retired justice Tunde Garba-led panel, alleged that the dreaded tactical unit of the police also forced them to lie against the former senate president by saying that he bought guns for them.

This paper had earlier reported how Jawondo complained about constant threat to his life and his counsel when he first appeared before the panel in November.

In his narration, Jawondo said he was arrested in Ilorin in 2018 by the dreaded SARS over alleged illegal possession of firearms before being transferred to Abuja where he spent 73 days in detention in clear violation of his fundamental human rights.

He argued that men of the dreaded unit detained and tortured him as well as seized his vehicle which, he said, has not been released to him till date.

“They arrested me in Ilorin because of politics…. They checked my fingerprints, they saw nothing that I carried a gun, why would I carry guns in my life? he said.

“And they are telling me that if I should go to any court or lawyers, they are going to kill me,” he said before the panel, adding that the constant threat to his life forced his counsel to withdraw from the case.

“My lawyer was the one that helped me to write the petition, but he cannot come here to explain everything because I have evidence to prove to you that my lawyer sent a voice message that some officers are threatening him not to appear,” he said.

At the sitting on Wednesday, the petitioners said the police accused them of collecting guns from the former senate president to allegedly participate in the robbery incident that led to the death of more than 20 persons, including police officers and civilians.

The suspects are currently being tried by the police at the High Court sitting in Ilorin.

In separate testimony, the duo said they were granted ‘administrative bail” to steer clear of Saraki, stating that they were only political supporters of the former lawmaker

The petitioners also accused the officers of confiscating their properties which included two Toyota Corolla cars , handsets and N250,000 collected before they were granted bail.

“In view of the foregoing and in the interest of justice, we urge your esteemed office to intervene swiftly to this situation by returning our properties as this action is tantamount to infringement on the fundamental human rights to be enjoyed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended,” they pleaded.

“We did not participate in any crime nor involve in any Offa robbery, killing or having any criminal records whatsoever as being wrongfully alleged by the SARS officers. We urge the panel to do the needful by facilitating the quick recovery of our property.”

Adekunle Iwalaye, police counsel, while reacting to their claims urged the panel to discard the petitions in its entirety on the grounds that they lack merit.

The chairman of the panel later adjourned the matter to January 13, 2021.

Saraki Reacts

Bukola Saraki, former senate president who was summoned during the investigation of the robbery incident by the police has reacted to news of the forced confession.

Saraki in a Twitter comment likened the news of the confession to light, stating that despite the undue persecution, the truth will always reveal itself.

‘Alhamdulillah! Like light, the truth will ALWAYS come out!” he pointed.

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Abiodun Jamiu

Abiodun is an investigations reporter at HumAngle. His works focus on the intersection of public policy and development, conflict and humanitarian crisis, climate and environment. He was a 2022 Solution Journalism Fellow with Nigeria Health Watch under its Solution Journalism Africa initiative project.

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