Isah Garba, a Joint Task Force (JTF) Commander in Kabala Doki, a suburb of Kaduna metropolis, accused of killing one Lawal Dona, has said he was tortured to mention Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central, in the case.
Mr Garba alleged that soldiers who arrested him in February took him to Senator Aruwan’s farm, located in Kakau community in Kaduna, and tortured him.
He said he was tortured for refusing to mention Mr. Sani as his sponsor.
The police this week named Mr. Sani as a suspect in the murder, asking the senator to report to their office for interrogation.
Police said Mr. Sani was mentioned by a suspect as a sponsor of the killing. A spokesperson said the case was referred to the police by the Army.
But Mr. Sani said the case was politically motivated, and that the government of Kaduna state was behind it.
A spokesperson for Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Samuel Aruwan, declined comment on Thursday.
The suspect, who is now in Kano where he is treating his left hand at the state’s orthopaedic hospital, narrated what he claimed were his ordeal in the hands of the soldiers.
Mr Garba told PREMIUM TIMES he never took part in the killing of the victim. This newspaper has not independently verified his claims.
The suspect said when the soldiers called him on the telephone to know his whereabouts, he told them he was in Kano to spend time with his family.
“The soldiers were led by one Captain. He claimed they arrested a boy who said he knew me. So they told me to come and identify the boy but I told them I’m out of town."
“But they (soldiers) insisted I should come and identify the boy, because, according to them, the boy is from my community, Kabala Doki."
“Being a member of the Civilian JTF in Kabala Doki, I decided to return to Kaduna. When I got to Kaduna it turned out the soldiers lied. They just wanted to arrest me."
“They (Soldiers) took me in their vehicle to their camp, inside former Senator Aruwan’s farm in Kakau village along Kaduna-Abuja road."
“They interrogated me over and over again about the death of Lawal Dona and I told them I knew nothing about his death because I was not in Kaduna when he was killed."
“In fact, I told them I lived in Kabala Doki while the said Lawal Dona lived in Barkin Ruwa and he was even killed by another gang at Sabon Gayan after a fight with his gang,” he said.
He explained further that the said captain insisted he mentioned Mr. Sani as the person that sent them to kill the victim as well as destroying President Muhammadu Buhari’s billboard along Kaduna-Abuja highway.
Mr. Garba said he had no connection with Mr Sani because they are not from the same community and that he has never met the Senator in person.
“I told them I was not in Kaduna when the said person was killed and also I don’t have any business with Senator Shehu Sani but the captain refused to believe me so he kept me with them for two weeks,” he said.
Mr. Garba said he was seriously tortured by his captors for refusing to sign a paper to implicate the senator.
He said another political associate of Mr. Sani, Bashir Hamada, was also arrested and brought to the farm by the soldiers.
“They asked him if he knew me and he said he has never seen me in his life,” the suspect said.
Mr. Garba later claimed that after he was severely tortured he had no choice but to mention Mr Sani’s name as the person who sent them to commit atrocities.
“I only agreed to do that because I was tortured for two weeks. Presently as we speak I can’t lift my left hand to take anything heavy,” he said.
On how he was set free by the soldiers, he said the Army Captain later took them to the office of the General Officer Commanding One Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army in Kawo.
He said he retracted his earlier comment made to the captain about Shehu Sani in the presence of the GOC.
“I thought since the GOC being a senior Officer he will listen to my complaint, instead, he threatened me too, for retracting my statement.
“So I was kept in their cell for another two days before they later handed us over to the police.”
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the two persons were later set free on bail after they were taken to court.
“Let me still repeat myself to you I am innocent and I have no hand in the killing of anybody or destruction of any billboard as claimed by them (soldiers).
“As for Senator Sani he doesn’t even know me neither did I have any business with him. God knows I’m innocent,” he said.
A spokesperson for the One Mechanized Division Nigerian Army, Muhammed Dole, a colonel, denied the allegation that soldiers tortured the suspects.
He said it was never a tradition in the military to torture people just to get information from them.
“Investigation was conducted on his (Isah Garba) case and we forwarded to police command for further investigation and we don’t torture people to forcefully get information from them. There is no iota of truth about that,” he said.