Barber seeks N5 million damages for detention, torture by SARS
Twenty-two-year-old Salmanu Umar, who appeared before the judicial panel of inquiry on police brutality sitting in Jalingo, Taraba State, yesterday, narrated how he was tortured in detention by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police.
As damages, he is demanding N5 million from the police authorities. Claiming that he was tortured and detained for 41 days at the SARS office in Jalingo over alleged indebtedness, he added that N140,000 was forcefully collected from him by one Inspector Solomon Ochoni before he was released on bail.
More worrisome, according to him, was that his surety was also compelled to sign an undertaking to pay N700,000. The police squad had reportedly threatened to charge him for armed robbery or kidnapping, if the N700,000 was not paid.
Narrating how his hands and legs were tethered while he was in custody, without food and water, Umar, a barber in the state capital, urged the panel and SARS to refund the N140,000 allegedly collected from him as bail, since “bail is free.”
The complainant’s father, Yakubu Umar, also told the panel that he (Yakubu) also went through a lot of stress using his meagre resources to treat his son of the injuries he sustained in SARS custody.
The complainant’s counsel, Adams Sanusi, urged the panel to award N5 million to his client as compensation for detention without trial. He also demanded the immediate refund of the N140,000 allegedly extorted from the petitioner.
While admitting that the petitioner was actually detained for 41 days, the officer in charge of the disbanded SARS, Obomo Ubi, and Ochoni, whom The Guardian learnt was the Investigative Police Officer (IPO), denied that the petitioner was tortured.
Ubi also said the inability of the police to arraign the petitioner was due to the lockdown occasioned by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
After listening to the presentations of counsel to both the petitioner and the respondent, the Christopher Awubra-led panel adjourned the case for consideration.