By Peter Nkanga
Aliyu Tasheku is 39 with prospects of a bright future. But his future is uncertain as he has been detained since October 20, 2010 at the Force Criminal Investigations Department in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
For five months, Mr Tasheku has remained under lock without being charged to court for any known offence. The police had wanted to keep Mr Tasheku’s arrest and detention a secret.
They were able to succeed for a while until the Society Against Discrimination and Other Related Intolerance (SADRI), a non-governmental organisation, knew of his plight and filed a motion at an Abuja High Court for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to personal liberty and dignity.
But that still didn’t deter the Police. The litigation clerk of the Police Force, Jonah Wutu, a police corporal, with the consent of the Inspector General (the first respondent), lied under oath to Justice Ishaq Bello that after days of checking, the Police didn’t know of any Mr Tasheku. “The name of Mallam Aliyu Tasheku is quite strange to the Force Headquarters of the Nigeria Police. There is never a day when the first respondent order (sic) the arrest and detention of the second applicant (Mr Tasheku) in any of the Nigeria Police cell. There is nobody with a name Mallam Aliyu Tasheku in the Force CID cell at areas 10. Garki, Abuja,” Mr Wutu swore on March 8, 2011.
But SADRI and its lawyer, Kelvin Okoro, who had, at different times, visited Mr Tasheku at the Force CID and Lucy Freeman of Amnesty International, the human rights watchdog, confirmed to NEXT that they have been following Mr Tasheku’s case closely.
“Amnesty International takes no position on the guilt or innocence of persons arrested and detained. Everyone arrested by the police has the right to be brought promptly before a court. To spend months languishing in police detention is a violation of Nigeria’s constitution and international human rights law,” Ms Freeman said.
However, unable to maintain the falsehood it peddled before the court, the same Force CID on March 28, 2011 charged Mr Tasheku for the first time since his arrest to a Magistrate Court in Wuse 2, Abuja, on a three-count charge of conspiracy, belonging to a prohibited religious sect (Boko Haram), and inciting disturbance.
Describing Mr Tasheku’s situation as “most unfortunate” after listening to oral submissions from all parties, the chief magistrate, Binta Mohammed, granted him bail in the sum of N300,000, and a civil servant surety not below level 10 in a Ministry in Abuja.