Alleged Death in Police Custody: Bauchi Police, Family of Deceased at Loggerheads

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Bauchi State Police Command has said that a thorough investigation has commenced to unravel the death of 33-years-old Dauda Danladi, insisting that he did not die in its custody but at the hospital where he was rushed following asthma attack.

But the family of the 33-year old man has denied the claim by the police that their late son was asthmatic, insisting that he died from complications arising from alleged torture while in the police custody for the few hours of his arrest and detention.

Thee Police Public Relations Officer, SP Ahmed Wakil, in a media statement on Saturday morning claimed that the deceased, who was asthmatic died ,in the hospital after he was rushed their by a patrol team following a distress call they received.

Wakil, in the statement said : “On Thursday 8th July, 2021 at about 10:30pm, Police patrol team raided a suspected criminal hideout at Yelwa Tsakani and arrested two suspects,”.

He added that: “during the course of the operation, the team equally received a distress call about a person who had slumped and was gasping for breath. Police rushed to the scene and met the victim who was later identified as Dauda ‘m’ surname yet unknown, lying unconscious and reasonably suspected to have an asthma attack.”

“He was quickly evacuated by the patrol team to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH) for medical attention where he was unfortunately certified dead by a Medical Doctor”, the PPRO added.

He stressed that, “For the avoidance of doubt, the Command reiterates that the victim did not die in police custody as widely speculated by some mischievous persons who want to mislead the public for reasons best known to them.”

The police spokesperson, however, stated that the Commissioner of Police, has ordered for a discreet investigation including autopsy to ascertain the actual circumstances surrounding the incident after which the outcome shall be made Public, even as he appealed for calm and commiserated with the family of the victim.

But speaking  with some journalists who visited the family compound in Kagadama, a cousin of the deceased, Zainab Sani, said ther brother was never asthmatic, adding that he was hale and hearty at the point of his arrest.

Sani said : “It’s a lie, we stayed together with the deceased in the same house for over 30 years, he was never sick, never even had pneumonia let alone asthma, they lied”.

She further said that: “His wife told us that he was very okay when he left the house for his business. She said that she even cooked and took food to him in the shop and went back home, then she was later called that the Police came and arrested her husband, so she locked his shop and went home.”

She said it was at about 7pm on Friday that the police finally agreed and took the family to the mortuary to see the corpse ,saying that, “the people who went saw the corpse but since investigation is ongoing, they told them not to even touch the corpse. We’re waiting for the investigation and autopsy to know what exactly killed him.”

A visibly angered Sani nsisted that, “We strongly believe that it was the police that killed him because he was hale and hearty. We don’t believe what they are saying that he fell in front of his shop and was gasping for breadth and that they took him to the hospital where he died”.

“If they took him to the hospital because he was gasping for breadth, why didn’t they call to tell us? It was when we went to the station in the morning and even then, they didn’t tell us exactly what happened but asked us to go and come back by 2.00pm”, she added.

Sani further said that, “Still, when we went back by 2.00pm, they still didn’t tell us where the corpse was. It was later in the evening that we got to know that it was at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital.”

She said the incident had devastated the whole family and had thrown them into mourning particularly the deceased wife who was barely six months married to her brother, saying, “the whole family is seriously devastated and mourning the death of our brother because we never expected that to happen to him, it came as a rude shock”.

Asked what the family wants, she said: “What we want is justice, even though he is dead, we still want justice for him and for the family. If we don’t get justice, such will continue and the masses and the people will continue to be killed.”

Meanwhile, the Acting Community leader of Yelwa Tsakani, Dauda Karatu, told a selected group of journalists that although he does not know the deceased on a personal basis, he ,however, knew that he owned and operated a shop where he charged phones and sold recharge cards.

Karatu said: “I don’t know him personally, but I know that there is a shop where phones are charged and I have been there a couple of times. As the Community leader, I have not heard that he had a problem with anyone”.

“I have directed that anybody who wants to get a space to do a makeshift kiosk shop should formally apply for the space. He/she will not pay anything because the space belongs to the government but it is for security reasons and for documentation. I don’t know when he opened his shop because he never applied for a space, but I know the shop existed there and I decided to leave him there since he has not had any problem with anyone and it is business that he’s doing there,” he said.

Karatu further said that when he was told of the incident, he was shocked and saddened, adding that when the police stormed the area to make the arrests, they did not inform him and even after they left, he was not informed.

He said: “When I heard about it, I went to the Police Station to see the DPO and while there, the deceased wife and his mother came and they asked her to write a statement. I had to talk to them on why they are asking her to write a statement when she was bereaved. I told that so if she makes a mistake in the process, it means it stands. I told him that he was supposed to write the statement and then give her to sign”.

“We have a vigilante group in the area and they are helping in maintaining peace and security. When the Police were coming to the area, they didn’t inform them and they also didn’t inform me about it”, the ward heard added.

He said: “The youths of the area became angry at what had happened because this was the second incident in the area. We had so much difficulty in pacifying them because some of them had threatened to burn down the station. Immediately, I called the youth leader and told him what I heard the youths saying that they will burn down the station. I told him to act fast and control the youths before the situation gets out of hand. Thank God the situation was put under control”.

Karatu then said that, “I still call on the youths and the family of the deceased to be calm and let the matter into the hands of God since there is nothing that can be done to bring him back to life. They should allow the Police carryout there investigations and make the outcome public”.

He ,however ,said that, “I want to charge the Police to be sincere and just in their investigations. They should ensure that anyone found to have a hand in the incident should be prosecuted appropriately” .

A neighbor of the late Dauda who sells meat  in a stand just behind the deceased’s shop, Abdullahi Adamu, told our Correspondent that they were chatting with the deceased and some of the people selling things in the area when the lolice stormed the area at about 9pm, saying, “At that time, I had sold out my meat and just sat down with them to spend some time, when suddenly, the lolice stormed the area in their vehicle and started arresting people. Some ran away, some did not” .

“They eventually arrested my neighbour, Dauda, and we asked them what had happened that they were arresting him but none of them said a word. We asked a second time but they still didn’t answer us. There’s one elderly man who also has a shop close to us, he came and confronted them and they told him to go back. I insisted of knowing what was going on but they told him to go back otherwise they will also arrest him and he had to leave”, Abdullahi said.

He added that, “Since we did our best for them to leave him and they refused, we left them to take him away. Although, I started selling meat close to him barely a month now, but I have not stayed with a person like him before. We lived like brothers and he supplies me and the snooker guy close to me who was also arrested light from his generator, then we give him N500 weekly for fuel.

Adamu stressed that, “If he has a financial problem, he asks me and I give him and if I also have issues too, he helps me out. I even discussed with him for us to start a money contribution called ‘adashe’ and he agreed. We did for the first week and we had just entered the second week when this incident happened”.

Asked on whether the statement of the police that he slumped and was gasping for breadth in front of his shop was true, he said: “Honestly, this thing you said, I am just hearing it from you” .

He concluded that, “But everyone here knew what happened since it was in the full glare of the people here that the Police took him into their vehicle and left. I followed them to the Police station to see if they will be released, but it wasn’t possible, so I came back. Only for me to hear what had happened the next day.”