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Man disappears in police custody after arrest, as police stray bullet kills another

By National Human Rights Commission

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A man has reportedly disappeared while in police custody in the infamous abattoir in Abuja after arbitrary arrest.

The police were accused of enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest, and prolonged unlawful detention of Lukman Salihu.

Counsel to the petitioner,  Shuaibu Arewa Esq. informed the Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations by the defunct SARS and other units of the Nigerian police that at the time of his arrest in July 2015, Lukman, who was accused by the joint Federal Team of belonging to a terrorist group, was a student of Nasarawa State Polytechnic.

The matter was taken to court on May 13, 2016, where the Attorney General of the Federation, Chief of Army Staff, IGP, Director General, State Security Service was joined as respondents.

According to Arewa, throughout the duration of the hearing in the Court, all other institutions listed in the case made an appearance and denied knowledge on the whereabouts of Mr. Lukeman, except the Police which neither appeared before the court nor filed a counter-affidavit.

The Court, therefore, awarded one million Naira damages to be paid by the Police or release of Lukeman Suleiman which has not been responded to.

Narrating further, Arewa Esq. told the panel that the Nigerian Police had failed to obey a Federal High court order to produce Lukeman.

He, therefore, appealed to the panel to compel the appearance of SUPOL Christopher of defunct SARS, (IPO at the time of the incidence).

Arewa Esq. also appealed to the panel to compel the police to honor the court order previously given by providing Lukeman or to give an account of his whereabouts, and if they fail, then the sum of N500,000,000   should be paid to his family as compensation.

Lead counsel to the respondents, James Idachaba Esq. promised to reach out to Force Criminal Investigative Department to verify the whereabouts of Lukeman Salihu and get back to the panel at the next hearing.

The matter was adjourned to February 26, 2021, to compel the appearance of SUPOL Christopher and for the Police to explain the whereabouts of the victim.

Highlight of the case by counsel to complainant:

  • The petition is on enforced disappearance of Lukman Salihu who was taken into custody by police officers in July 2015 on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group.
  • As at that time he was a student of Nasarawa Polytechnic. I visited the police station and confirmed that he was detained there. The IPO then was one SUPOL Christopher.
  • As a result of his continuous unlawful detention we approached the high court for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights. Through out the trial in court, only Police, among all the parties in the case, did not counter our case.
  • The court, in 2016, ordered Police to pay a compensation of N1m for the violation of Lukman Salihu’s fundamental human rights but that judgement has not been complied to nor the victim arraigned in court.
  • We approached NHRC to intervene. Despite the intervention of NHRC, the Police still refused to produce Lukman Salihu or give an account of his whereabouts.
  • We are asking this Panel to prevail on Police to produce Lukman Salihu and comply with the court order. Failure to do so, we are demand a compensation of N500m to the family from Police.

The case is adjourned to 26th February, 2021 for further hearing with the order that:

1. The victim’s whereabout be made available to the panel on that day
2. The Police liaison Officer should handle this case.

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