Former Zamfara State Governor, Senator Ahmad Yerima on Wednesday, February 10, appeared before the Independent Investigative Panel on alleged human rights violation by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigerian Police following his summon over alleged complicity in threatening the life of a Katsina businessman, Alhaji Musa Wapa.
Yerima was summoned by the panel to answer to allegations that he mobilised some Police Officers to arrest, torture and detain the businessman over a claim of N23million.
At the resumed hearing in the matter on Wednesday, Garba Tetengi SAN, who stood in for the Chairman of the Panel Justice Suleiman Galadima, inquired if the parties (Alhaji Wapa and Sen. Yerima) are ready to settle the case amicably and report the terms of settlement to the panel.
In their response, the two parties agreed to resolve the issue amicably. The panel further directed that counsel to the panel should monitor the settlement as amicus curiae to ensure amicable settlement between the two parties.
The matter was adjourned to 5th of March, 2021 for the report of the settlement to be submitted before the panel.
It will be recalled that the panel had in December 2020 agreed with Afolabi Olawale, a member of the legal team to the panel that Yerima’s name was mentioned severally in Wapa’s complaint before it, hence the application by Alhaji Wapa on the need for the Senator to be joined in the petition as a necessary party and it was so granted.
The complainant has earlier testified how Yerima used the IGP- Intelligence Response Team to deny him the payment of N25 million for three trailers of corn he supplied to his farm, (Rufai Poultry Nigeria Ltd).
During his cross examination before the panel, the complainant had informed the panel that Yerima owed him the sum of N25m even as he admitted that he (Wapa) also owed the Senator N23m.
Continuing, he quickly added that while Yerima’s debt was due for payment, the obligation to pay his own debt was not yet due as at June 30th, 2020 when the Senator allegedly paid N3m to the police team comprising of Abdullahi and Zakariyya of Area Command Kano State and IGP-IRT Panteka, Kaduna state to torture and detain him for six days.
He told the panel that on June 30th, 2020 at about 6p.m. a police vehicle suddenly stopped where he was repairing his tractor and started beating him in front of other people and later seized some of his vehicles.
The complainant also narrated how the police officers allegedly handcuffed him, while one of them unleashed different forms of torture to dehumanise him.
Led in his examination by NHRC’s Counsel to the panel, Afolabi Olawale, the merchant stated that the said police officers did not spare his driver who he noted was arrested, put inside a Police bus and was driven together with him from Katsina to Kano and later to Kaduna on different days.
According to Alhaji Wapa, the Police Officers beat them to stupor while they were inside the bus and that his own personal car which the Police allegedly collected from him was also driven by one of the officers to Kano state.
He said that his First Bank account has been frozen as a result of his issue with Senator Yerima and the Police. Besides, he told the panel that Yerima tricked him to deposit his Certificate of Occupancy in Jaiz bank under the pretext that his money will be paid, “and nothing came out of it”, he added.
Asked what he wants the panel to do for him, he pleaded with the panel for N100million compensation, for the alleged violations and tarnishing of his image, saying the Police made him to appear as a terrorist. Besides, he prayed the panel to ensure that justice is served in the matter.
In his cross-examination, counsel to the Nigerian Police, Mr. James Idachaba (DCP), told the panel that Wapa’s arrest was sequel to a court order, which Wapa said he was not aware of.