A human rights activist has explained how several petitions were sent to the Nigeria Police Force over atrocities allegedly committed by embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, but they were ignored for unknown reasons.
The source, who spoke to SaharaReporters, said the recent report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not come as a surprise to human rights groups, who pioneered the majority of the petitions.
According to him, many police units — including (Special Anti-Robbery Squad & Intelligence Response Squad) - headed by Kyari have been indicted in recurring cases of killing ‘wealthy’ suspects in custody and taking over the property perceived to be proceeds of crime.
He cited the death of Michael Adiukwu, a former police officer who masterminded the Offa bank robbery.
It was alleged that Adiukwu was ‘killed’ in custody because he was in possession of the money robbed from the bank.
The source also noted that a report by Amnesty International documented incidents of conversion of money and property of crime suspects arrested by the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) under Abba Kyari by the operatives of the rogue unit.
According to him, the persistent petitions against the rogue activities of Abba Kyari's IRT were part of what forced the then Inspector-General of Police to shut down the IGP IRT/STS (Special Tactical Squad).
He said, “Do you remember the execution, in custody, of Adiukwu the Offa robbery mastermind? His co-accused said Adiukwu was in possession of the money they robbed from the banks.
“There is nothing new to us — Nigerian human rights groups — about the revelation by the US intelligence agency about Abba Kyari. Or shall I rather say that it didn't come to many of us who know him as a surprise?”
A statement was issued by a coalition of Civil Society Organisations in July 2020 itemising some of the instances of criminal activities and human rights atrocities of the personnel of the IRT and STS states across Nigeria.
The statement was signed by Okechukwu Nwanguma, Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre; Segun Awosanya, Founder/President Social Intervention Advocacy Foundation (SIAF) and Justus Ijeoma, Esq, Executive Director, International Human Rights and Equity Defense Foundation (I-REF).
This followed a move by the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to disband the satellite offices and bases of the Inspector- General of Police IRT/STS.
The statement read: "Many of them engage in abductions, detention, torture, and extortion of targeted victims. They appropriate exhibits and illegally seized properties not connected to any crime and demand bribes in millions to release their victims.
”Case 1: Francis Eze, a trader at Onitsha Medicine Market (Ogbogwu) was arrested on Wednesday 18th of March, 2020 by officers of IRT. He was on his way to Owerri in his Sienna car when he was accosted and arrested by the IRT officers who operated in a Hummer Bus.
”Francis was eventually released alongside others on Friday, the 20th in Kaduna while his vehicle was still held in their custody in Owerri. They also did not return his phone, wristwatch, and gold necklace to him. All these properties belonging to Francis have remained in their custody for yet-to-be explained reasons.
"Case 2: Onyebuchi Okonkwo informed us about the case of his brother, Ikechuchu Okonkwo, a trader at Bridgehead Market, Onitsha who was arrested on Monday, 8th of June, 2020 by a team of officers led by one Supol in Abuja. Ikechukwu was initially detained at Area Command, Onitsha and money extorted from him.
”Case 3: A young man who was facing harassment by operatives of IRT in Ogun State contacted RULAAC. His brother and friend were arrested in his place as bait to lure him to the station for a false allegation of armed robbery. One of the officers who arrested his brother was calling him and asking him to bring the sum of N200,000 for them to release his brother and end the manhunt on him.
”RULAAC got him to record the officers negotiating bribe with him. He did and forwarded the voice record to us. We forwarded the voice to the team leader who immediately released his brother and ended the manhunt on him after listening to the audio. The team leader also pleaded that we should not make the audio public. We still have it.”
”Case 4: Ann Okpara; A 36-year-old woman was arrested by men of the Intelligence Response Team at the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters on July 14, 2017, at Igando, Lagos State.
“According to her, she was arrested in lieu of her husband whom the police alleged was an accomplice to Evans currently being tried for various kidnapping cases.”
“Case 5: This case was one of the cases reported in Amnesty International’s report released in June 2020 entitled ‘Time to End Impunity: Torture and Other Violations by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)' under the sub-caption, 'Targeting Money And Property'.”