By Amina Alhassan & Misbau Bashir
When 17-year-old old Najaatu Salisu got married to Malam Janaidu Hashimu two weeks before the start of the just-concluded Ramadan, little did she know that her freedom was in danger. Though she is yet to move into her matrimonial home as she is still in school, the police is making her for an offence allegedly committed by her husband. She is currently being held captive by officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Abuja (SARS) and has been in detention in the past 35 days.
Narrating what happened to Weekly Trust, Najaatu’s brother, Kabir, said: “Malam Janaidu Hashimu is from Kano State and he married my younger sister, Najaatu Salisu. Two weeks after the wedding, policemen in about three vehicles came to our house in Maru, Zamfara State, and picked her up, alleging that she was in possession of a Blackberry that was given to her husband by a personality in Abuja. They said her husband was supposedly to be working for the man in question as a herbalist. Janaidu was to consult jinns for the said personality to be able to secure a ministerial seat. He was to use the phone in question to communicate with the jinns. According to the police, over 100 million naira or so was given to Janaidu, in addition to the phones to execute the job but he failed – the personality was never appointed minister as agreed. So, they said, since they could not find her husband, they had no choice but to pick her up as she was in possession of one of the phones.”
Kabir said they traced the policemen to their station in Gusau, but they said she had been taken to Abuja by the SARS operatives. “We came down to Abuja to see if she could be bailed but they said she has to remain in the cell because the man in charge of the case is not on seat, so we left and came back after Sallah. She spent her fasting and Eid behind bars. We were then introduced to the ASP, called Ango, in charge of the case. He made us understand that Najaatu did not have any problem with the police but for the fact that her husband is missing and he is the main suspect.”
It was gathered that an attempt on her mother’s arrest was also made, but her brother volunteered himself instead. Kabir also claimed that the officer in charge of the case asked them to give him some money. “I was thinking that it would be the fee for her and her brother Jamilu to be bailed and everybody can be released to go home, so I gave out 50,000 to Celestine (another officer at SARS), after then they have been telling us to go and come back. After many disappointments, I went to my brother Ali who works with the Presidency and explained to the whole thing to him. He asked us to go back to SARS, on reaching the station we went to see their boss and Celestine was later called and interrogated about the case and was asked if the girl was guilty or not, but he said no.”
Kabiru continued: “Along the line, the case was going smoothly but later we were asked to submit our phones, and we should be interrogated also. The IPO (Celestine) said we shouldn’t be interrogated, that we should bring N1million and that was how we became suspicious about the whole thing. We had only N650,000 with us apart from the money we had spent earlier. So, after that, we went there to bail the girl but we were chased, stoned and they even yelled ‘Boko Haram’ at us. We returned to the police with N150,000 more but they rejected it.”
When asked about the whereabouts of Najaatu’s husband, Kabir said his family members said they have no clue. “When he called we informed him that his wife had been arrested because of him and he never called again. Though he explained that it was absurd for the personality whom he claims is a Permanent Secretary in Abuja to have done such because he had worked for him in the past ten years and had never failed him. That was the last we heard from him as all his lines have become permanently unavailable,” Kabir said.
A visibly disturbed father of Najaatu, Alhaji Shantali Muhammed said this is his second coming to Abuja since the incident. “When I came the first time I was harassed and humiliated, because of the safety of my daughter and they promised that they will be released only to me when I come down, but only to have her brother released. This turn of things really disturbs me because I fear for the safety of my daughter. I fear that she might be taken advantage of since her brother is no longer with her. My daughter is innocent and should please be released. I beg the relevant authorities to come to our aid over this issue.”
Weekly Trust found out that the brother who was arrested along with Najaatu was released on Thursday, September 8, even though, the 17-year-old housewife was still behind bars. When a call was put to ASP Ango Isah, said to be in charge of the case, a voice said it was a wrong number. A police source said the Commissioner of Police in Abuja, Mike Zuokumor, had summoned all policemen investigating the case, including the SARS Commander, Igwe, to his office on Tuesday to clarify the matter.
CP Zuokumor confirmed summoning the policemen and obtaining their statement on the case. He said he directed a deputy commissioner to investigate the actions of the officers handling the matter. The deputy commissioner will also ascertain the truth or otherwise of the request of N2 million by one of the officers called Celestine, as well as that of N3.5 million by Igwe from the suspect’s family at different times.
Sources said the policemen might face a disciplinary panel if found guilty and the panel would then make recommendations to the Police Service Commission (PSC) to have the erring officers demoted or dismissed from service.
Efforts made to get to the man in Abuja who is believed to be a Permanent Secretary in one of the ministries proved difficult. A When calls were placed to his mobile telephone, a voice answered saying it was a wrong number.