Policeman arrested my brother over failure to pay N3m, petitioner tells NHRC panel

A councillor with Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, Confidence Leera, on Monday, told the Independent Investigative Panel on the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other Police Units set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that his younger brother was arrested by a policeman (name withheld) for failure to pay N3 million to him.

Leera filed a petition before the panel on behalf of his brother, Edward Dumsara Leera, who he claimed had been in police custody since November 1, 2019.

The petitioner narrated that his brother, who he claimed to be a repentant cultist in his deposition on oath he submitted to the panel, was on July 30, 2019, arrested in company with the Khana Local Government Area chairman and nine others by the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and was later released on August 17, 2019 on bail.

He added that on September 14, 2019, the said policeman asked him to tell the council chairman to pay the sum of N3 million to settle his bosses in Abuja for the closure of his brother’s case.

He told the panel that on November 1, 2019, his brother’s wife called him to inform that she had not seen her husband throughout the day and that his whereabouts was unknown, only for the policeman to call him on November 3, 2019, saying that he was the one who arrested his brother over his failure to pay the N3 million he requested.

Leera added that his brother was taken to his house for a search the following day, adding that his wife told him that nothing incriminating was found in the house.

The petitioner said he filed an enforcement of fundamental rights on behalf of his brother before a Rivers State High Court, adding that the court, on December 17, 2019, entered judgment in favour of his brother and ordered that N5,000 should be paid for each day he remained in detention until his release.

According to him, the police filed charges against his brother in court on January 20, 2020, adding that the family did not know about this until sometime in March, 2020. According to him, despite an order of the court to produce the detainee, the police failed to do so, informing that the police case was eventually struck out on August 4, 2020.

Leera stated that despite several efforts to ensure his brother was released, nothing came out of it, while no member of the family had been allowed to see him. He said the policeman had been boasting that nobody could do anything for him except the IGP.

Earlier, the Commissioner of Police, Legal, Force Headquarters, ETT Assayomo, had told the panel that apart from the IGP, other respondents were in Akwa Ibom State. He, however, urged the panel to transfer the petition to the investigative panel in the state in order to ensure substantial justice.

Chairman of the panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima (retd), however, declared that the mandate of the panel covered the entire country, adding that the petition would be heard by the panel and then directed the petitioner to briefly explain what happened.

Meanwhile, while adjourning the petition till Thursday, Justice Galadima urged CP Assayomo to assist the panel to know where the detainee, Edward Leera, is currently. He then ordered that processes be served on the first to fifth respondents for them to appear on Thursday and also ordered that the detained Leera be produced before the panel that day

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