The Nigerian police are currently investigating the arrest and illegal detention of a journalist for 48 days by Hamza Galadima, a chief security officer to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali.
The investigation is being handled by the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) in Abuja and is believed to have been ordered by Mr Alkali.
The journalist involved, Sanusi Inuwa, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that he has been invited for questioning by the FCID in Abuja and was told the investigation was ordered by Mr Alkali.
How It Started
Mr Galadima, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), allegedly sent officers from the IG’s Special Tactical Squad (STS) to arrest Mr Inuwa, the publisher of Daily Focus newspaper. The arrest followed a disagreement on the sale of 10 plots of land in Abuja by Mr Inuwa’s company to Mr Galadima at a cost of N13 million.
An officer at the FCID, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak with journalists, said Mr Alkali ordered the investigation following a petition to his office and the Police Service Commission (PSC) by Mr Inuwa’s lawyer, Femi Falana.
The petition, received by the office of the Inspector-General of Police on August 2, accused Mr Galadima, and three other officers involved in the arrest and detention of Mr Inuwa, of “abuse of power, threat to life, torture, harassment and unlawful detention.”
According to the petition, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Galadima, in September 2020, approached Mr Inuwa to buy 10 plots of land in Sabo Lugbe, Southwest extension, Abuja for N13 million.
“After agreeing on the price, DSP HAMZA GALADIMA made a deposit of 10 million Naira to our client sometime in October (2020). Unfortunately, after numerous demands, DSP Galadima reneged on his promise to remit the balance of N3, 000,000 (Three Million Naira) to our client.
“That notwithstanding the disrespect to contractual obligation, DSP HAMZA GALADIMA has continued to use the apparatus of Nigerian Police Force to subject our client to numerous traumatic abuses, both physically and psychologically.
“Specifically, on or about 12 a.m. of 30th May, 2021, our client was attacked by armed police personnel attached to IGP STS Abattoir, Abuja led by SP AHMED M. BELLO, INSPECTOR TAKWANDO and INNOCENT AUDU while he was in his house at Sokoto. The police officers who assaulted our client subsequently revealed that the operation was based on the publication of Daily Focus newspaper which captured the transactions between our client and DSP HAMZA GALADIMA, hence his subjugation to this molestation.
“During the illegal invasion of our client’s property in Sokoto, the police officers vandalised our client’s house, took away his international passport and money amounting to about N300,000 (three hundred thousand Naira).
“Our client was then moved to Kaduna State, where he was held for a day in a cell at SHQS Operation Yaki, before moving him to STS Abattoir in Abuja where he was detained for 48 days and subjected to all manners of physical and mental torture.
“Our client was accused of tarnishing the image of the Nigeria Police Force and ordered to write a public apology before being released.
“That our client was again moved to Kaduna and detained at the Operation Yaki cell for 12 days, where they said he will be kept until he apologises to DSP HAMZA GALADIMA.
“After spending about seven weeks in a cell with no trial, our client was finally taken to the magistrate court in Abuja on the 15th of July 2021, where he was charged for defamation of character and cheating of DSP HAMZA GALADIMA. He was subsequently granted bail after paying N300,000 to the police prosecutor.
“It is interesting to note that prior to the 30th May, 2021, our client was never invited by the police for any form of questioning or investigation relating to the complaint lodged against him by DSP HAMZA GALADIMA.
“More fundamentally, springing from the entirety of the above, our client has received a series of death threats which suggest that the named individuals are after the life of our client. This is more so considering the current security situation in the country. Our client can ill afford to dismiss the death threats with a wave of the hand.
“The actions of these officers are in flagrant disregard to the constitution, Human Rights and the rule of Law. Hence, we urge you to use your good offices to investigate the issues, which we have raised.”
Land deal gone sour
Providing more details on the matter in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja, Mr Inuwa said his company, Cowries Alliance Nig. Ltd., had agreed to sell 10 plots of land to Mr Galadima, who conducted the transaction in the name of his wife, Jamila Aliyu Galadima.
He said after paying the sum of N10 million in three instalments, Mr Galadima refused to make further payment and insisted on taking possession of the land.
He said the officer rejected a suggestion to take possession of eight of the 10 plots if he could not pay the balance of N3 million for the total cost agreed on.
Mr Inuwa said following the disagreement, Mr Galadima started using the police to harass the staff of his company and to chase away surveyors working at the site of the land. He said this led him to write a petition to the Inspector-General of Police and the Deputy Inspector-General of Police at Force Headquarters.
His newspaper also published a report on the transaction.
“Following the publication, he illegally instructed officers attached to the Inspector-General of Police’s Special Tactical Squads (IGP STS), who acted without the approval of the IGP and violently took me away from my Sokoto residence and detained me in Abuja for 48 days,” Mr Galadima said.
“Mr Galadima stepped into the IGP shoes, ordered STS to break into my house in Sokoto, using objects to break all the doors of the house.
“The armed men broke the doors, using iron bars and hammers. My wife and my 16-year-old eldest daughter, Aisha, were beaten and my elder brother who was on a visit to the house was also beaten by the policemen.
“I was kidnapped and kept in a private house in Sokoto. The following day, I was taken to Kaduna before moving me to Abuja where I spent 48 days in captivity,” Mr Inuwa said.
According to Mr Inuwa, his lawyer initially wrote a petition on his ordeal to the police high command, after which a signal was sent to the Commander of STS, Kolo Yusuf, a deputy commissioner of police, to transfer his case for proper investigation.
He said the officers holding him, however, ignored the directive.
“I was later taken to Chief Magistrate Court 1, Wuse, Abuja, in a stage-managed trial because I was forced to pay N300,000 for the two sureties for my bail; and N100,000 for the prosecutor, Mr Remi, to verify the address of one of my sureties within Abuja.
“I was also forced to transfer N465,000 under duress to one Mr Zitta of Keffi Prison. I was asked to either pay the money or go to prison. But despite paying the said amount to those officials, I was still detained in Keffi Prison for eight days. I was released on July 23 after the Sallah celebrations.”
Breach of Trust
However, Mr Galadima, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, said Mr Inuwa was arrested for jumping bail and ignoring police invitation over an allegation he lodged against the journalist of breach of trust, and not because of the publication by his newspaper.
N10 million loan
Mr Galadima said his problem with Mr Inuwa was not over land but because the journalist failed to pay back N10 million he lent him. But the documents seen by Premium Times stated that the N10 million transferred in three instalments by Mr Galadima to Mr Inuwa were payments for plots of land.
In spite of the contents of the documents, Mr Galadima said he got the police involved only after Mr Inuwa jumped bail after being arraigned before a magistrate court and he declined police invitation over the debt.
“I met Inuwa through a friend, Ado Bichi. He introduced Inuwa to me that he was looking for money to do a sponsored publication for a particular state. Mr Bichi stood as guarantor for him and I lent him over N10 million, starting from N2 million.
“Inuwa did not return the money as promised. For three months, there was no response from him and he did not pick my phone calls. I engaged Mr Bichi and we traced Mr Inuwa’s house. He said he did not have cash but he suggested to lease his land at Lugbe in Abuja, which we all agreed on. But for three months, the process was not completed because Mr Inuwa was reluctant to provide the land documents.
“Afterward, he called me to Bichi’s house to sign the document. Inuwa presented to me a land document and a receipt of N13 million. I objected because my money is not up to that. They insisted that I should sign the document. He trusts me, we will settle the matter amicably, he said to me.
“But Inuwa refused to take me to the exact location of the land. We visited three different land which are all fake. Following that, I told him that I was not interested in the land again, I just needed my money. I petitioned the IGP over the incident and he approved the invitation of Inuwa. He was later granted bail.
“He jumped the bail. He was later arrested and charged to court but he also absconded from the court’s sitting three times. Afterward, he wrote to the IGP accusing me of corruption and living above my means. He went ahead to publish three different write-ups against me, tarnishing my image and that of my family.
“I will legally pursue my right against Mr Inuwa to the letter. He has been, for three months, tarnishing my image. Being a police officer doesn’t warrant that I don’t have the right to seek for my right from a civilian,” Mr Galadima said.
But Mr Inuwa disputed this account. He said his company had offered to return the N10 million to Mr Galadima since it appeared to them that he was not willing to pay the full sum.
Mr Galadima did not pick subsequent calls to his phone when this reporter tried to find out how he raised the N10 million he sent to Mr Inuwa, especially as his annually salary is less than half of the amount.
The police spokesperson, Frank Mba, did not pick calls or respond to text messages from PREMIUM TIMES requesting his comments for this story.