How I was arrested, shot 10 days after my wedding ― Kaduna CAN youth scribe

The secretary of the youths wing of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna State, Richard Augustine, on Wednesday, narrated to the independent investigative panel investigating human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units how he was arrested and shot in the leg by the police on February 13, 2015, 10 days after his wedding.

Augustine narrated his experience before the panel set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) while testifying during the hearing of the petition he filed before the panel and marked 2020/IIP-SARS/ABJ/03.

The CAN secretary joined Eku Raymond, also known as Death; IPO Sylvester, both of the defunct SARS; Commissioner of Police Nasarawa State; the Officer in charge of defunct SARS, Nasarawa State; Assistant Commissioner of Police, SCID, Nasarawa State; Commissioner of Police Lagos and the Inspector-General of Police as respondents.

According to him, he left Kafanchan, his base in Kaduna State, 10 days after his wedding for Abuja on a business trip and also went to Keffi in Nasarawa State.

He informed that on finishing his business, it was late and he was stranded in Keffi, adding that he had to call one Jacob, who parents were neighbours to his own parents at the railways quarters in Kafanchan.

Augustine further informed that Jacob took him to his house, where his host’s younger brother, a Seminarian, later joined them and the chatted late into the night.

“At about 2 am, the door to Jacob’s house was broken and I saw policemen holding AK-47 rifles. Mr Eku Raymond held Jacob and asked him to identify me and his younger brother. He told them that he was a visitor who was stranded in Keffi.

“Mr Raymond handcuffed Jacob, myself and Jacob’s kid brother. They took us outside and I saw other policemen in mufti. They drove us to a hotel in Gwagwalada and chained us in the toilet,” Augustine told the panel.

He said that on the following day, they were driven to Lagos, adding that while in the vehicle on the journey, Raymond told him to confess to the crime he did not commit.

“Mr Raymond brought out a pistol and shot me in the leg when I refused to confess to the crime. They took us to Lagos where Mr Abba Kyari asked who I was and was told that I was arrested in the house of Jacob. He asked that I be taken to a different cell,” he informed.

The complainant said the investigating police officer assigned to investigate him warned him on the day he interrogated him that he should not come out from the cell if any other police officer came to call him, adding that if he did they would kill him.

According to him, some days later, he was brought out of the cell and paraded along with others in Lagos, adding that while he was treating to protest the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Lagos State warning that he should not say anything unless they would waste his life and even asked him (Augustine) to look at where suspects were killed.

The complainant said he was taken to Keffi some days after the parade in Lagos, adding that the officer in charge of SARS in Keffi asked that he be taken to Lafia.

He added that while in Lafia, the officer in charge of SARS there ordered that they should be tortured.

While being detained in Lafia, the police asked his lawyer “to make provision for them to go to Kafanchan” to investigate him.

Augustine said after the investigation, the police exonerated him and made a verbal apology, alleging, however, that the OC SARS collected N150,000 for his bail, while the IPO, Sylvester also collected N100,000 before he was released.

He informed that he spent three weeks in police custody, adding that his arrest, torture did not only cause him injuries and mental pains but also made him lose job opportunities as a result of his being paraded for a crime he did not commit.

He informed that he instituted a fundamental rights enforcement process at the Nasarawa State High Court in Keffi but the matter was not heard on merit but struck out based on jurisdiction.

when asked what he wanted the panel to do for him, Augustine said he wanted an order of the panel to compel the police to write an official apology and have same published in five national dailies and television stations, adding that he wanted N290 million compensation to be paid to him.

Meanwhile, while being cross-examined by counsel for the respondents, James Idachaba, Augustine insisted that the matter that he filed in court had been struck out by the judge.

He said he had not been able to go to Keffi to get the court’s ruling as a result of the lockdown imposed on the country last year.

He added that he was not taken to any hospital for treatment while in custody, saying that, “it was other cellmates who cleaned the wound and applied tetracycline capsule on the wound.”

Meanwhile, the panel has adjourned the petition till March 15 and ordered that the police produce Eku Raymond and IPO Sylvester on the adjourned date.

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