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26 Mar 2018

Imam accuses police of illegal detention over member’s arrest

The imam of Ikeoluwa Mosque on Ahmodu Street, Itire, Lagos, Abdulazeez Lukman, has accused the police in the state of illegal arrest.

Lukman was held in the custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, and the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit, Oshodi.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the imam had come out from the mosque after Ishai (8pm prayer) to plead for the release of a member, Shina Sanusi, arrested by the police.

He was reportedly apprehended along with Sanusi and thrown into a Black Maria.

The 52-year-old spent six days in custody before he was released on bail.

The police had raided the Itire area on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, following a clash between some suspected drug peddlers and operatives of the Area D Command at Mushin.

During the clash, police tear gas allegedly killed a pupil, Samuel Okechukwu, while three other residents and a policeman were shot dead.

Residents had alleged that some policemen consequently went on the rampage and destroyed over 200 vehicles.

They further alleged that the cops looted shops and houses and arrested people indiscriminately.

But the command had denied the allegations, saying the vehicles were destroyed by hoodlums.

It said while 255 suspects were apprehended, several bags of hemp were recovered.

The imam, who was one of those picked up during the raid, told PUNCH Metro on Saturday that he had just finished praying with his congregation, including Sanusi, that evening.

He said while after-prayer supplication was ongoing, Sanusi left the mosque.

He added that hardly had the member left than somebody raised the alarm that he had been arrested.

 Lukman said, “The policemen had started beating him up by the time I got to the scene. I explained to them that we had just finished praying together.

“Other members joined me to testify that he prayed with us. They suddenly started shooting into the air and everybody ran away. But I stayed and insisted that he just left the mosque. When they noticed that I was not ready to leave, they led both of us into their Black Maria.

“I met many residents in the vehicle. Some of them said they were picked up in their apartments. Others said they were arrested in their shops. They took us to FSARS office in Ikeja. They ordered us to strip to the briefs. A policeman called Koboko ordered me to remove my cap.”

 The father of five children explained that the operatives kept them half-naked until around 2am.

“They then tied us to one another and gave us punishment. If any of us wanted to urinate, the other person had to follow him. Later, a police officer came and interrogated us one after another. When I explained what happened to him, he said he was sorry and assured me that there would be screening, which they never did.

“I was starving. I was supposed to eat after Magrib (7pm prayer), but I decided to delay it till after Ishai.

“Around 11am, they took us outside, put several bags of hemp in front of us and asked some journalists to video us. They said we sold the drug. They didn’t allow the journalists to speak to us,” he added.

 The Iseyin, Oyo State indigene said they were subsequently led into some vehicles and taken to the state task force office in Oshodi, where they were filed in groups and arraigned in a mobile court.

He said after the magistrate granted them bail, the defendants, except him, were taken to the Badagry Prison for remand pending when their bail conditions would be perfected.

The imam said, “I was allowed to stay in the task force custody because of the intervention of a lawmaker in our constituency called Omititi. Part of the bail conditions was a civil servant on level 8 who must get the approval of the Head of Service. I was there till 5pm on Monday before my bail conditions were met.

“It was a sad experience for me. Of about 250 persons arrested, if they screened us, the criminals would be few. They abused our rights because we are poor. If we were to be from rich families, they would not go scot-free.

“A policeman stole the phone of one of the residents. We complained to a police officer in the FSARS office. He said he would fish out the policeman if we could identify him.

“But the raid was carried out in the dark, so we could not mark his face.”

Sanusi, 24, said he wanted to enter his house near the mosque when he observed that policemen were chasing residents.

He said he rushed in and shut the door, but the policemen forced it open.

 “They picked three of us in my room. Imam came out from the mosque and tried to explain to them that I just left the mosque. They took him with us. I asked them what my offence was, but they kept dragging me towards their vehicle,” he added.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti, said he would not comment on the matter because it was already in court.

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