Police Corruption: Special police squad ‘get rich’ torturing detainees and demanding bribes in exchange for freedom

A Nigerian police unit set up to combat violent crime has instead been systematically torturing detainees in its custody as a means of extracting confessions and lucrative bribes, Amnesty International said in a report published on 21 September 2016.

nigeria-police-tortureIn Nigeria: You have signed your death warrant, former detainees told Amnesty International they had been subjected to horrific torture methods, including hanging, starvation, beatings, shootings and mock executions, at the hands of corrupt officers from the feared Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

“A police unit created to protect the people has instead become a danger to society, torturing its victims with complete impunity while fomenting a toxic climate of fear and corruption,” said Damian Ugwu, Amnesty International’s Nigeria researcher.

“SARS officers are getting rich through their brutality. In Nigeria, it seems that torture is a lucrative business”

“Our research has uncovered a pattern of ruthless human rights violations where victims are arrested and tortured until they either make a ‘confession’ or pay officers a bribe to be released.”

Amnesty International has received reports from lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists and collected testimonies stating that some police officers in SARS regularly demand bribes, steal and extort money from criminal suspects and their families.

“SARS officers are getting rich through their brutality. In Nigeria, it seems that torture is a lucrative business,” said Damian Ugwu.

SARS detainees are held in a variety of locations, including a grim detention centre in Abuja known as the ‘Abattoir’, where Amnesty International found 130 detainees living in overcrowded cells.

Amnesty International’s research shows that, in addition to its stated remit of tackling violent crime, SARS investigates civil matters and in some cases tortures detainees involved in contractual, business and even non-criminal disputes.

In one case in Onitsha, Anambra state, a 25-year-old fuel attendant was arrested by SARS after his employer had accused him of being responsible for a burglary at their business premises.

He told Amnesty International:

“The policemen asked me to sign a plain sheet. When I signed it, they told me I have signed my death warrant. They left me hanging on a suspended iron rod. My body ceased to function. I lost consciousness. When I was about to die they took me down and poured water on me to revive me.”

Like many people detained by SARS, he was not allowed access to a lawyer, a doctor or his family during his two-week detention.

Yet in various cases where victims of police torture or other ill-treatment attempted to seek justice, the authorities took no action.

When asked by Amnesty International to explain why no police officers had been suspended or prosecuted for torture, the police simply denied that any torture had taken place.

However, one senior officer disclosed that around 40 officers alleged to have carried out various acts of torture and ill-treatment of detainees were transferred to other stations in April 2016. He did not say whether the claims against them were being investigated.

“This lack of accountability breeds and perpetuates impunity, creating an environment where SARS officers believe they have carte blanche to carry out acts of torture,” said Damian Ugwu.

“This is hardly surprising when many of these officers have bribed their way to SARS in the first place. The police chiefs in charge are themselves entwined in the corruption.”

Chidi Oluchi, 32, told Amnesty international he was arrested in Enugu before being robbed of his belongings and then tortured in custody by SARS officers.

“They told me to slap myself and, when I refused, they started beating me with the side of their machetes and heavy sticks. My mouth was bleeding and my vision became blurred,”

said Chidi, who was released after he paid SARS officers N25,500 ($100) to be freed.

Apart from demanding bribes, SARS officers have been accused of stealing or confiscating property from relatives of detained suspects.

Some family members told Amnesty International that SARS officers stole their cars or withdrew all the money from their bank accounts.

The brother of a man arrested on suspicion of participating in an armed robbery told Amnesty International how a team of SARS officers raided his home in Nsukka.

“The police team from SARS forcefully broke into boxes, locked furniture and drawers. By the time they left, several items including watches, jewellery and shoes were missing. We were too scared to report the incident,” he said.

“Our research has exposed the callous workings of a police squad operating outside of the law.”

The majority of the victims of torture in SARS custody are poor and unable to hire legal representatives. In some cases when detainees cannot afford to pay bribes, they are simply tortured more.

“Our research has exposed the callous workings of a police squad operating outside of the law and inflicting daily brutality on Nigerians who are often legally powerless to defend themselves against criminal accusations, let alone from the torture meted out by SARS,” said Damian Ugwu.

“Depressingly, there are scant judicial or any other mechanisms in place to prevent SARS officers from subjecting vulnerable targets to human rights violations for their own financial gain.”

Despite repeated calls from Amnesty International in recent years, the Nigerian justice system has failed to prevent or punish torture.

In December 2014, the Nigerian police launched a human rights manual which prohibits torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, but SARS has failed to implement it.

When a new Inspector General of Police was appointed in early 2015 it was announced that there would be reform and reorganization of SARS, but officers attached to the unit told Amnesty International they were not aware of the reforms.

A revised version of a bill to criminalize torture, which was first introduced in 2012 but was returned unsigned by the President, was passed by the House of Representatives in June 2016 and will be resubmitted to the Senate for further debates in 2016.

“With the Nigerian government’s previous attempts at stamping out torture proving completely ineffective, it is time for the authorities to ensure that officers responsible for such human rights violations are finally held accountable,” said Damian Ugwu.

“Police torture is a stain on Nigerian society that must be addressed with clear orders to law enforcement officers not to inflict torture or other ill-treatment on detainees under any circumstances.

“There is also an urgent need for robust legislation that ensures all acts of torture are offences under Nigeria’s criminal law. All victims have a right to reparations, and steps must be taken to ensure that nobody profits from abusing detainees.”

Nigeria is obligated under international and regional human rights law to ensure the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment.

Download the Amnesty International’s report here: nigeri-police-corruption

Source AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL.

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UPDATE ON ABDULMUMIN JIBRIN’S N5 BILLION LAWSUIT AGAINST CUPS

Abuja – The N5 billion lawsuit filed by Abdulmumin Jibrin against the CUPS organisation for publishing stories about the budget padding had its first hearing today at the FCT High Court 36, Apo, Abuja.

Neither Abdulmumin Jibrin nor his senior lawyers attended the hearing. However, Mr Jibrin did send a representation made of 3 young lawyers. On his part, Dr Ahmed was represented by Barrister Anthony Agbonlahor (SAN) and six other lawyers.

The case began with Mr. Jibrin’s female lawyer praying to the Court for the case to be suspended, pending on when the court documents are officially served on Dr. Idris Ahmed in the UK.

Barrister Agbonlahor (SAN), however, objected to the claimant’s application. He pointed out to the Court that it is shear theatrics for the claimant to want to delay the case purely on the basis of wanting more time to serve the court documents to Dr. Ahmed. He averred that the claimant had more than 3 months to serve the Court documents but failed to do so, why now?

Furthermore, he said that Dr. Ahmed had already made private arrangement and secured the Court documents directly from the Court, completely avoiding the claimant’s involvement. Therefore there was no need to delay proceedings purely on the basis of serving Court documents to Dr. Ahmed.

On the issue of when would the full trial commence, Barrister Agbonlahor prayed to the Court to grant him time to study the claim documents, prepare full defence, and file counter claim against the claimant. The Judge granted this request and adjourned the case to 1st of November 2016.

Report filed by http://www.cupstv.com.

JIBRIN OWNS £1.558 MILLION IN UK BANK, NYCN ALLEGES

The National Youth Council of Nigeria on Sunday said it had traced £1.558m (N825m) to a United Kingdom account allegedly owned by the embattled former chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

The Head of the Anti-corruption unit of the NYCN, Ifeanyi Okonkwo, said this in an e-mail he sent to The PUNCH in Abuja.

When contacted on the telephone, Mr. Ikenga Ugochinyere, who identified himself as the President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, said, “The statement came from our anti-corruption unit.  Like you can see from the documents attached, we received the information from a reliable source in the UK.”

Okonkwo said the operation of the accounts contravened existing Nigerian laws on the conduct of elected and appointed public officers.

The group said documents it obtained from the UK revealed that Jibrin allegedly “owns and operates the said account domiciled in ING Bank Channels Island, United Kingdom.”

It said,

“The bank is located at Forum House, Grenville Street, St-Heller, Jersey JE2 4UF, Channels Island United Kingdom.

“Jibrin opened the account with his address at 453 Crank brook Road, Ilford Essex IG2 6EW.

“Details of the account statement obtained by some lawyers in the UK show that Jibrin has a total £1.558m (approximately N825m) in the account between June 1, 2016 and June 30, 2016.”

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The group claimed that Jibrin withdrew the sum of £623.44 pounds within the one month period bringing the balance in the account to £1.376, 193.84 British pounds.

“Jibrin’s ownership of foreign account contravenes the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which bars public officers from owning and operating foreign account,” the group added.

Paragraph 3, Part one of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, states:

“The President, Vice-President … members of the National Assembly and Houses of Assembly of states and such other public officers or persons shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria.”

Paragraph 18 of same Schedule provides to the effect that where the Code of Conduct Tribunal finds a public officer guilty of contravention of any provision of the code of conduct the punishments to be imposed include vacation of office or seat; disqualification from membership of a legislative house; seizure or forfeiture of assets or property being proceeds of such corruption; and prosecution in addition to the above sanctions; where the conduct constitutes a crime.

Attempts to get a reaction from Jibrin were unsuccessful. He neither picked nor returned any of the calls put through to him.

A response to a text message sent to him was still being awaited as of 7:05 when this report was filed.

However, at about the same time, Jibrin twitted: “When I heard Speaker Dogara wants to suspend me I laugh” on his twitter handle @AbdulAbmj.

Source: The PUNCH.

£1.558 MILLION FOUND IN JIBRIN’S FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNT

There are strong indications that the embattled former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, owns and operates a foreign account in contravention of relevant Nigerian laws.

Documents obtained and released by the Head of the Anti-Corruption Unit of the Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere-led National Youth Council of Nigeria, Ifeanyi Okonkwo, a lawyer, indicates that Jibrin owns and operates foreign account with ING Bank Channels Island, United Kingdom.

The bank is located at Forum House, Grenville Street, St-Heller, Jerssy JE2 4UF, Channels Island United Kingdom. Jibrin opened the account with his address at 453 Crankbrook Road, Ilford Essex IG2 6EW. Details of the account statement obtained by some lawyers in the UK show that Jibrin has a total £1.558 million (N825 million equivalent) in the account between June 1 2016 to June 30 2016.

Jibrin however, withdrew the sum of £623.44 pounds within the one month period bringing the balance in the account to £1.376,193.84. Jibrin’s ownership of the foreign account contravenes the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which bars public officers from owning and operating foreign accounts.

Paragraph 3, Part one of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, provides:

“The President, Vice President, members of the National Assembly and Houses of Assembly of states and such other public officers or persons as the National Assembly may by law prescribes; shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria.”

Paragraph 18 of same Schedule provides to the effect that where the Code of Conduct Tribunal finds a public officer guilty of contravention of any provision of the code of conduct, the punishments to be imposed include: vacation of office or seat, disqualification from membership of a legislative house, Seizure of forfeiture of assets or property being proceeds of such corruption, prosecution in addition to the above sanctions where the conduct constitutes a crime.

Source: New Telegraph.

Budget Padding: SERAP sues the EFCC at Federal High Court, seeks Dogara’s trial in court

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara  must be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and prosecuted over allegations of budget padding.

A Nigerian group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is pursuing an order of  the Federal High Court in Abuja to actualise this. And it has filed an action in this regard.

The suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/733/16 dated 15th September 2016 was filed on behalf of SERAP by its Solicitor Femi Falana, SAN.

SERAP wants  an order to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to

“investigate and prosecute allegations of budget padding and abuse of office levelled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa.”

The National Assembly will resume on Tuesday, after more than six weeks of recess.

The mandamus suit reads in part:

“This suit was borne out of the fact that it is the statutory responsibility of the EFCC to investigate and prosecute financial crimes in Nigeria. Unless the reliefs sought by SERAP are granted, the EFCC will not investigate the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado for grave financial and economic crimes.”

“This matter is presently generating a lot of public concern and discourse and is presently in the front burner of national discourse thus germane to Nigerians. By the nature of the case, it ought to be heard urgently. It is in the interest of justice to hear this matter expeditiously.”

“The Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado are not immune from investigation under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, even though the Hon. Speaker Hon. Yakubu Dogara has been talking tough saying that the EFCC cannot investigate him.”

“By virtue of Section 6 of the Economic and Fiancial Crimes Commission Act, 2004, the EFCC is statutorily empowered to investigate and prosecute economic and financial crimes committed in Nigeria. The EFCC has failed, and or refused to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa.”

“By a letter dated 26th July, 2016, and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organization requested the EFCC to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan Ado.”

“In the petition to the EFCC, SERAP requested for investigation into the following allegations of grave economic and financial crimes: the approval of N40 Billion for principal officers of the House of Representatives out of the N100 Billion approved for members of the House of Representatives for constituency project; the running of the finances of the House by the Speaker like his personal estate; and the diversion of millions of naira in the name of paying for guest houses and official residence.”

“Other allegations of economic and financial crimes include: soliciting for inappropriate favours from agencies and multi-national companies; compelling an agency to grant loans; blackmailing a construction company to do some work at the Speaker’s Asokoro, Abuja plot; and designing a scheme to scam members of the House through deductions from their salaries for supposed mortgage arrangements.”

“Section 46 of Act which is the interpretation Section in the defines “economic and financial crimes” to mean the “non-violent criminal and illicit activity committed with the objectives of earning wealth illegal either individually or in a group or organized manner thereby violating existing legislation governing the economic activities of government and its administration and includes any form of fraud, embezzlement, looting and any form of corrupt malpractices.”

“Section 13 (1) (b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act empowers the General and Assets Investigation Unit of the Commission to arrest and apprehend perpetrators of economic and financial crimes. Mandamus lies to secure the performance of a public duty in the performance which the applicant has a sufficient legal interest. The must show that he has demanded the performance of the duty and that performance has been refused by the authority obliged to discharge it”

“SERAP’s letter to EFCC contained mind blogging allegations of primitive accumulation of wealth by Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa.”

“The heinous crime of fraud, diversion of public funds and unlawful enrichment leveled against Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa is a gross deprivation of the good people of Nigeria’s legitimate wealth and natural resources. The citizens of Nigeria have been deprived their natural wealth and these public officers in question should be investigated forthwith.”

“The allegations leveled against the leaders of the House of Representatives are despicable to the highest degree. These leaders must not be allowed to run away from justice. The Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 has provided these accountability channels and has gone further with a provision giving every Nigerian a standing to seek the enforcement of the provisions of the Act in court as provided in Section 51 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.”

The suit was brought pursuant to Order 34, Rules 1 (1) (A); 2, Rule 3 (1) and (2) (A), (B) and (C) of the Federal High Court Rules, 2009 and the inherent jurisdiction of the Honourable Court. SERAP is seeking the following reliefs:

(A). A DECLARATION that the failure of the Respondent to investigate to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan Ado is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates Section 6 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004.

(B). AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS compelling the Respondent (EFCC) to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan Ado Doguwa.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Source: NAN.

ALLEGED FRAUD: EX-GOVERNOR IBRAHIM SHEMA OF KATSINA STATE SURRENDERS TO THE EFCC

Ibrahim Shema, the immediate past governor of Katsina State, who was declared wanted on Wednesday for alleged fraud, has turned himself him to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, his spokesperson told PREMIUM TIMES Friday.

Oluwabusola Olawale said Mr. Shema arrived at the EFCC headquarters around 9:30 a.m. Friday, two days after he was declared wanted by the anti-graft agency.

It is not immediately clear if Mr. Shema turned himself in to authorities in company of his lawyers, but Mr. Olawale said his principal took the step because “he’s a law abiding citizen who has absolutely nothing to fear.”

Mr. Shema “went to submit himself to the EFCC even though the agency has not been fair to him in handling his case,” Mr. Olawale said.

The ex-governor was declared wanted on Thursday night amid allegations that he committed offences such as “criminal conspiracy, inflation of contract, abuse of office, diversion of funds and embezzlement running into billions of Naira”.

The EFCC said the former governor, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, was declared wanted after efforts to get him to respond to the allegations through invitations by the EFCC failed.

An EFCC source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Shema allegedly diverted about N18 billion from government coffers into his private accounts for undisclosed reasons.

The officials said Mr. Shema further raided local governments monthly allocation accounts which were being jointly run with the state government, leaving little for developmental projects and clearance of local government employees’ wages and salaries. A sum of N50 billion is believed to have been mismanaged this way.

But Mr. Olawale denied the graft charges and said his principal had on June 28 visited the EFCC office and “he was told to come back later because the officials in charge were on other assignment.”

“After that, he also wrote them through his lawyers for a new date but they didn’t respond,” Mr. Olawale said. “We also took letters to their office which they declined to collect.”

“All these are politically-motivated attacks aimed at rubbishing a man who served the people of Katsina well throughout his tenure,” Mr. Olawale said. “He didn’t only clear all the state’s debts, he also left a robust treasury for the incoming government.”

The EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ enquiries about the latest development.

Source: PREMIUM TIMES.

Smile Mission Health Care (SMHC) making a great impact for IDPs in Borno state

Smile Mission Health Care (SMHC) is a non-governmental, non-profit and non-political organization registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. The organisation’s head office is at: 100 Maikulloma street, opposite Marazain motel, Bama road, Maiduguri, Borno state.

SMHC is a unique medical charity created by a team of qualified medical doctors and other health professionals to cater for the underprivileged persons in Nigeria.

THE ORGANISATION’S AIM AND OBJECTIVES:

1. Provision of health care to the vulnerable persons; Economic and socially disadvantage persons, disaster victims, internally displaced and refugees.

2. Health promotion, disease prevention and awareness campaign to the masses.

3. Helping the less privilege in facilitating access to medical care, primary care management, appropriate referrals and, to pay the medical bills that the organization can afford and engage in appeal funds for those that cannot afford.

4. To facilitate access to education for the vulnerable and under privileged persons.

5. Provision of relief materials; food, clothing and shelter to the vulnerable persons.

6. Campaign for the rights and privileges of the vulnerable persons.

7. To provide social stability, personal and capital development as well as economic empowerment to the youths.

8. To liaise with the civil society, other NGOs and government authorities to improve health care and welfare of the vulnerable persons.

THE ORGANISATION’S EXPERIENCE AND EXPOSURE:

SMHC collaborate with both local and international partners for health promotion, preventive and curative health programs in many parts of the country to combat infectious, non infectious as well as chronic diseases such as malaria, diarrheal diseases, helminthic infestation, skin diseases, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, diabetes and mental illnesses also engages in health awareness campaigns as well as human right activitivism.

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SMHC is working with its team of health experts and trained volunteers to achieve its goals of providing access to free treatment and prevention of diseases in the country through outreach programmes and workshops in different parts of the country.

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SMHC has been operating in liberated communities in Yobe and Borno states that have been adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. The organisation has provided support for rural areas in terms of maternal and child health and also advocacy on hygiene and sexual violence through various media channels; social media, radio stations and TV stations.

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SMHC had health outreach and relief provision as well as building shelters and kitchens in many camps such as Dalori camp, Gubio camp, EYN camp, Bakassi camp, Sanda Kyarimi camp all in Maiduguri and had organised psycho social programs for children to boost their resilience, esteem and prime them for a better future.

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SMHC initiated a community-based program in two districts of Miduguri Mairi and Limanti for the prevention of child and maternal mortality and morbidity. SMHC is planning to launch its ambulatory/mobile clinic for reaching to the local communities within and outside the north-eastern cities also to be fully prepared to participate in the resettlement process of the millions of internally displaced by augmenting the overstretched health care delivery.

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SMHC is making its activities effective due to the overwhelming support, collaboration and volunteers from many health professional bodies.

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THE ORGANISATION’S ACCOUNT FOR DONATION:

Account Name: Smile Mission Health Care Account No: 1019335868. Bank: UBA.

THE ORGANISATION’S MAIN CONTACT:

Name: Dr Abba K. Saleh. Position: Chief Executive Officer. Email: a.ksaleh@yahoo.com. Tel: +2348037180780.