The Abuja-based Independent Investigative Panel probing rights abuses by police personnel, Wednesday, directed a former governor of Zamfara State, Sani Yerima, and the complainant who filed a petition against him to explore settlement talks over the dispute between them.
Musa Wapa had petitioned the panel accusing Mr Yerima of instigating some policemen “to arrest, torture and detain him following a business dispute between them in June 2020”.
The petitioner demanded N100 million compensation for alleged violation of his rights by the police whom he claimed treated him “like a terrorist”.
On December 2, 2020, the panel which was set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) after last year’s #EndSARS protests against police brutality, summoned Mr Yerima to appear to tell his own side of the story.
Mr Yerima, who was Zamfara State governor between 1999 and 2007 and Zamfara West senator between 2007 and 2019, attended Wednesday’s proceedings but did not speak.
Shortly after the proceedings started on Wednesday, Garba Tentengi, who stood in for the chairman of the panel, Suleiman Galadima, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, observed that a “critical” look at the case showed that the dispute was mainly between Mr Yerima and the petitioner “while the police were just a nominal party”.
Following some enquires from the panel’s lawyer, the parties agreed to explore a settlement option.
“The honourable panel hereby directs that the complainant and the sixth respondent (Mr Yerima) shall mediate over this matter with the secretary to the panel as amicus (a friend),” Mr Tetengi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, ruled and adjourned the case till March 15.
Breakdown in business relationship
Mr Wapa had in his testimony alleged that Mr Yerima instigated the Inspector General of Police-Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT) “to torture, and detain him for six days in July 2020”.
The business leading to the crisis between them was about the supply of maize by the petitioner to Mr Yerima’s poultry farm, Rufai Poultry (Nig.) Ltd.
Mr Wapa said he had had a longstanding business relationship with the former senator “to the point that they were mutually indebted to each other”.
He said as of June 30, 2019, Mr Yerima was owing him N25 million, “and he was owing the former governor N25 million”.
He said the N25 million he was being owed by Mr Yerima accrued from supplying three trailers of maize to Rufai Poultry (Nig.) Ltd.
He alleged that the former governor on June 30, 2020 instigated a team of police personnel comprising Abdullahi and Zakariyya of Area Command Kano State and IGP-IRT Panteka, Kaduna State to torture and detain him for six days.
He said that his First Bank account was frozen at the instance of the police.
He pleaded with the panel to award him N100 million in compensation.
Meanwhile, under cross-examination, the lawyer to the Nigerian police, James Idachaba, told the panel Mr Wapa’s arrest followed a court order.
But Mr Wapa denied any knowledge of such a court order.
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