By Abba Gwale
The police in Kano have commenced investigations into allegations of kidnapping of Fulani along the Abuja-Kano road by some rogue officers and its men. This came against the backdrop of heightened security efforts to arrest the menace of kidnapping and other acts of criminality in the northern part of the country.
The Sahelian Times has reliably gathered that suspicions of police complicity in the racket, which appears like a typical case of kidnapping for ransom, began to surface when victims of the crime started to share details about their ordeals.
According to one of the victims, Umar Tukuba, who is a cellphone trader in Kano, his predicament started when he received a phone call from a distressed friend inviting him to meet him at an agreed venue only for him to see a team of police officers led by one Inspector Sada, waiting for him.
Upon arrival at the venue at Rumfar Shehu of Rijiyar Zaki suburb of Kano metropolis, he was shocked to see his friend in handcuffs. Without committing any crime, he said, the police officers forced him into their vehicle and drove to Kwakwaci division where he was detained without any charges. Umar spent two days at Kwakwaci police station without informing anybody from his relatives, but his brother was able to locate him on the third day through the help of one special constable.
He said one Inspector Sada and his errand boy Audu Barumi extorted the sum of 120,000 from him before he was eventually released. According to the victim, he is still yet to know his crime or any justification for his unjust detention.
Freedom Radio, a regional radio station operating from Kano, reported how some rogue police officers along the Abuja-Kano road make arbitrary arrests at markets patronized by Fulani people and detain the innocent victims at Dala or Kwakwaci police stations within Kano metropolis.
Another victim who pleads anonymity explained that he was having a misunderstanding with his friend whom he owed some money, and his case was taken to Panshekara division. But to his surprise, Sada and his boys came to Panshekara division and took him to Kwakwaci, threatening to whisk him to Abuja if he did not cooperate with them. The victim spent many days in their custody before he was able to bail himself after paying a lot of money.
Sahelian Times gathered that Abubakar Garba, who also fell victim to the racket said, one police officer arbitrarily arrested him, handcuffed him, and detained him in Kano, in an effort to extort money from him. Another victim, Abubakar Dan-Hadejia, said he bailed himself from the rogue police officers with the sum of one million and fifty thousand naira. He also alleged that the police had pleaded with him to be their informant so as to be reporting anybody carrying some huge sum of money to them.
However, some of the victims of the alleged illegal arrests and detentions by these officers explained that Inspector Sada is the mastermind of the racket, and whenever an arrest is made the victims are detained at the Kwakwaci division.
They further confirmed to Sahelian Times that their relatives are forced to pay a huge amount of money for their freedom.
When contacted, Inspector Sada, the alleged syndicate leader denied being part of the crime but confirmed that one of the junior officers is being accused of illegal collection of money from innocent marketers, and the case is already transferred to the Special Investigation Bureau (SIB), where some of the victims are being compensated. Our investigation has revealed that Inspector Sada is working under the Special Tactical Squad (STS), a special police unit tasked with special operations.
Apart from Barumi who is disowned by the police despite that investigation proved that he was effecting arrests of victims, two Fulani men, Alhaji Audu and Dan Mai Wuya, were allegedly playing both the roles of the informants to the ring and as middlemen for the transaction of ransom paid to the police by the arrested Fulani men. It is revealed that whenever a Fulani man receives proceeds from selling cows, the duo will immediately inform Barumi who would come to arrest the person. They would then rush to the victim’s family and request for money to use for bail, which was usually paid in huge amounts.
The report monitored in Kano says that Kano state police commissioner, Habu Sani, has now taken over the case, and has since started thorough investigations, promising to unravel the circumstances leading to this unfortunate situation. Inspector General of Police is aware of the case and the Kano state commissioner of police is currently in Abuja for this issue. Already Inspector Sada has been summoned to immediately report himself to the SIB of the Nigeria Police in Kano.
A source from the police who spoke to Sahelian Times on condition of anonymity stated that the Inspector General of Police and Kano State Commissioner of Police are not happy with the situation. They have resolved to find a lasting solution and deal with officers indicted in the ongoing investigations.
This is coming on the heels of heightened media scrutiny on police conduct and the need for credible reforms of the law enforcement institution. Only last month, Nigeria went through a turbulent period of nationwide protests against police brutality under the #EndSARS movement. In response, governments at all levels pledged to set up panels to review police crimes and proffer appropriate recommendations for sanctions, compensation, and reform.