In separate petitions heard by the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Friday, two women told the panel how their sons have been missing, several years after they were arrested by the police.
Fausat Salami, in her 60s, told the panel that her son was arrested on March 29, 2013, at their residence in Ibadan.
She said Felix, Friday, and Oyekan were the police officers who arrested her son, Salami Adeniyi Atoba.
“I asked what my son did, they said when I get to their station (SARS, Ikeja), I will know.
“They brought a car, but I did not follow them. I went in another car, I got there that day but they didn’t allow me enter, they harassed me with gun,” she said, narrating the incident in Yoruba language.
“The first day, I could not get in and I went back, still I didn’t enter. After about four months that my son has been with them, Felix called me that he is the IPO and that their boss, the IG, said I should bring N4 million for them to take my son to court.”
Mrs Salami told the panel that she went back home, sold her properties and was able to raise part of the sum demanded.
“I gave them N500,000 at first, then N700,000 which makes N1,200,000. After giving them the money, they still did not allow me to see him, they said I should look for more money,” she said.
The mother told the panel that two years after her son’s arrest, she was still not allowed to see him. She said she sent more money to an account provided by Mr Felix.
“On June 15, 2015, I sent another N1 million. They sent an account number and I sent the money.
“Felix sent the account number to me, when I saw the account number, I called the number back and he said he was the one that sent it,” Mrs Salami told the panel.
She said she made the transfer of N1 million to Fidelity Bank with account name Adesanya Omolola Isaac and account number 6230571726.
She said after paying a total of N2.2million to the police, she told the police officer, Mr Felix, that she could no longer raise the remaining money.
“I called Felix that I had sold all the properties and that is all I could raise. He said I should come that maybe they will beg the boss and he will pity me. When I got there, it was Felix that came to meet me at the counter and told me not to see the boss to avoid him being angered. Still, they did not allow me see my son, ” she told the panel.
Mrs Salami said after making the payments, her attention was called to a Daily Sun publication of April 3, 2013, with the caption “Police arrest seven suspects, recover guns and dynamites.”
“Police advised me to get a lawyer, and that was when I went to lawyer Ogunleye and we went to Onikan, Zone 2.”
The distressed mother told the panel that she and her lawyer went to see the Assistant Inspector General of Police at Zone 2, Lagos and wrote several petitions to the police but got no response.
“Felix and Oyekan stopped responding to my calls, I don’t know whether he is dead or alive,” she said.
Mrs Salami urged the panel to help her investigate whether her son is dead or alive.
She also prayed the panel to see to the refund of the money paid and all his properties seized by the police returned.
“Atoba has two children, 10 years and 7 years. I have no money to train them anymore,” she said.
In a similar petition, Abimbola Bakare, 58, said her son was arrested by the police on September 5, 2014, and till date, they don’t know whether he is dead or alive.
Mrs Bakare, a trader, said on the day of his son’s arrest, she sent Mr Bakare to get drugs for his toddler that was teething.
“I went to the market, my child (Abayomi Bakare) went to work and by the time I returned in the evening, I noticed the child was running temperature.
“I observed that the child was teething and I asked his father to buy him some medicine. I didn’t see him when he ought to have come back. I went to the chemist, and I met people along the way and they said the police have taken some people away and he was among,” she said.
The mother said she went to Pedro Police Station at Bariga where she was told that the suspects were arrested by SARS and have been taken to Ikeja.
“I went to Ikeja and I saw policemen and my child at the back of the counter sitting. I was asking what his offence was and they told me to come back the following day.
She further said that when she got home, she told her son’s wife that her husband had been arrested and was at Ikeja, but the moment she heard SARS, she fainted.
Mrs Bakare said she could not go to the police station the next day because the little child and his mother were taken to the hospital, adding that she sent relatives to the station who came back with the IPO’s number.
“I called the IPO, Friday, and went back to the station to see him where I was told that my son is a cult member. I told them my son is not a cultist and they said I should come back the third day.
Mrs Bakare said on the third day, she went with her first son and the IPO took them to another officer on the first floor, who told them to bring N2 million.
“I started looking for money, because I didn’t have such money, I sold some of my things. I took the N200, 000 we could gather to the police station.
“On getting to the police station, the IPO when he sighted me, he chased me out. I started begging him, he asked me whether I have the money with me and if I have it, I will go to the boss.”
Mrs Bakare said when she explained that she only got part of the money, the IPO told her she was not ready yet.
“Since then, anytime I go to the station, I do not see my child again. I was going everyday, and one day the officers at the gate asked me why I was coming everyday, then I explained. The officers said I should stop so that they can help me investigate.
“When he got back, he told me my son had been taken to Abuja. I was worried, then somebody asked me again and I told him they said they have taken my child to Abuja, then the officer said anybody that is said to have been to Abuja must have been killed,” she said.
Mrs Bakare said it was after this that she hired a lawyer, Olufemi Falana, who went to the police station to investigate.
“He also wrote letters to the police authority. When my lawyer filed a petition to the police and no action was taken, we went to the High Court.”
She added that while at the High Court, the family was awarded N2 million by Adeniyi Onigbanjo, a judge at the High Court in Ikeja.
“When the cheque was issued, the name of the missing child was written on it and since then we have not been able to get the money,” she told the panel.
Mrs Bakare urged the panel to investigate the matter and serve justice.
The victim was 27 at the time of arrest, while his son is now seven years, Mrs Bakare said.
Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge heading the panel, adjourned the matters to February 13 and 16 respectively.
The Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry was set up by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in compliance with a directive of the federal government that cases of police brutality against Nigerians and other related human rights abuses be investigated.
The FG issued the directive to the 36 states of the federation and the FCT following the #EndSARS protests that rocked the nation late 2020.
Since the inauguration of the Okuwobi-led panel, it has entertained many cases including the Lekki Tollgate shooting that happened in October 2020.
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