FCT: Police detain Nasarawa businessman for three years

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A widower, Bernard Ogbu, has been languishing in the custody of policemen of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, for over three years without trial.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the operatives led by ASP Felix Onoja, stormed Bernard’s residence in the New Nyanya area of Nasarawa State on March 3, 2019, and arrested him.
Thereafter, the policemen reportedly took Ogbu to the SARS detention facility in Abuja where his family members visited the following day to inquire the reason for his arrest.
Bernard’s younger sister, Comfort, said while speaking to her 43-year-old brother at the detention facility, he cried over the alleged torture meted on him by the SARS operatives.
The aggrieved sister also said Bernard appealed to them to do everything possible to secure his release, adding that her brother’s wife died in the struggle to secure his release from custody.
Comfort said, “In the midnight of March 3, 2019, the operatives of the defunct SARS led by ASP Felix Onoja, broke into my brother’s house at New Nyanya, Nasarawa State, and arrested him.
“His plasma television set, home theatre electronics, set of chairs, boxes, clothes, Opel Astra car and other personal property were also taken away by the policemen.

“The following day, we visited the detention facility of the defunct SARS and I was referred to meet with Onoja at the abattoir, Guzape, SARS’ detention centre, Abuja.
“I was only able to exchange greetings with my brother through the keyhole of the detention cell. Ogbu cried out and pleaded with me to look for money to secure his release because he was going through unbearable torture in detention.
Comfort said when she asked Onoja the reason for Bernard’s arrest, all he could say was that he committed an offence and demanded N5m from us to secure his release.
She said, “We have not been allowed to see him since March 4, 2019. Whenever we visited the detention facility to ask for him, the policemen usually chased us away
.
“When the SARS was disbanded due to the nationwide protest, we made several attempts to see my brother but to no avail. His wife died of depression caused by his continued detention. She left four young children behind.”
Bernard’s sister said her family members did not know whether the Benue State indigene was alive or dead.
The victim’s family lawyer, Napoleon Otache, said the police detained Bernard without any allegation, adding that efforts to make Onoja admit the widower to bail or charge him to court proved abortive.
Otache said, “My client and her family members have made repeated attempts to even see Ogbu but none yield any efforts to date. The policemen manning the gate usually chase them away after hearing the name of the person they came to see.
“Also, ASP Onoja has been threatening my client for demanding the whereabouts of her detained brother or the car and any other property seized from his house.
“Based on advice, our client wrote a complaint letter to the current commander of the Intelligence Response Team but we have not heard anything.”
The petition dated March 28, 2022, urged the IRT commander to intervene so her brother could be charged if he had acted against the law.
The International Coordinator, Advocate for People’s Rights and Justice, Giwa Victor, said the police had no right to detain Bernard for that long without charging him to court, adding that the victim’s lawyer and family members were entitled to know the offence he committed.

Contacted, the Force Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, urged Bernard’s family to write to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, on the matter.
“Kindly, tell them to write to the IGP. The matter would be followed up,” Adejobi said.

The Commander, IRT, Tunji Disu, when contacted regarding the family’s petition regarding Bernard’s continued detention, promised to investigate the matter.
He said, “You know I was not here in 2019. I will investigate the matter. Tell the lawyer and the lady to come over and assist with information that would help us do our investigation.

•PUNCH

 

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