By Abba Gwale
The Family of Katsina State-born business mogul and critic of Governor Masari, Mahdi Shehu, has expressed fear for his safety, because they have not heard from him since his detention by the police a week ago.
Shehu, who is the Chairman of Dialogue Groups, had recently accused Katsina State Government of squandering N52.6bn in the last five years from the state’s security account.
According to Daily Trust, a member of the family has said that the last time they heard from their breadwinner was some minutes after a snake bit him at the premises of the Force CID Headquarters, Area 10, Garki, Abuja.
“We’re not sure if he is alive or dead because the manner the police authorities are handling his case is frightening. His health is seriously deteriorating,” a family member said.
One of Mahdi’s associates, Murtala Abubakar, had confirmed that his friend was taken into custody by the police.
Efforts to get the side of police since last week were unsuccessful. The Force’s spokesman, Frank Mba, did not respond to calls and text messages sent on Tuesday.
Another source close to Mahdi’s family claimed that the state government is accusing Mahdi of “forgery, injurious criminal defamation, and character assassination.”
The source said there were other interested parties in the matter, including a serving minister and governor from the Northwest.
Mahdi’s travails came to limelight on October 18, 2020, when the Attorney General of Katsina State wrote a criminal complaint to the commissioner of police in the state.
“On that very day, the commissioner charged Mahdi before the Chief Magistrate Court No 1 in Katsina. However, nobody called him from the court, but the registrar of the court wrote a search and arrest warrant against him.
“Worried by the development, Mahdi’s lawyer went to Katsina and told them that since the defendant was not living in Katsina, the court does not have the right to serve him outside its jurisdiction. After that, they went to the High Court No 4 in Katsina and lodged a similar complaint.
“Eight days later, they lodged another complaint at the Upper Sharia Court, GR also in Katsina. After that, they directed one legislator to go to Malumfashi LGA, where he lodged another complaint on the same issue. The cases are still pending in four different courts,” he said
The source further said, while Mahdi had not been taken to any of the judges, police authorities in Abuja took over the case when some operatives blocked him when he was about to deliver a paper at the annual lecture of the J.K. Gadzama Centre.
“Over 100 policemen blocked him from having access to the centre. They told him that the IGP directed them to arrest him. However, when Gadzama came out from the premises, he described their action as balderdash; he told them they couldn’t take him anywhere.
“Mahdi went in and delivered the lecture, but while on his way out, one Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ellema, brought a letter to Gadzama saying Mahdi should see them the following day, Wednesday, November 25, at 9 am.
“He was there at the appointed time, but nobody attended to him up till 9 pm. It was then that certain women went and took his full statement. After that, a detention order was given that he should be taken to the Asokoro Police Station.
“When they arrived at the station, he wanted to ease himself to observe his prayers, but they asked him to use one unhygienic toilet, and he refused; instead he went to the backyard, but sadly, he was bitten by a snake…He screamed and fled the scene wailing. They took him to the Garki Hospital where they don’t have anti-venom or bed to admit him.
“They moved him to the National Hospital, where they administered him anti-venom and a pain reliever. From there, they took him to a certain ward containing six women. He was the only man among them. One of the women had cancer, another was mentally unstable, and another one had swallowed poison and was being revived.” His lawyer concluded.