Joseph Mbu probably never felt content enough being called the lion of the Police force.
Mbu, who roars with rage and regularly threatens to pounce on his preys, appears to have picked on a prey that bites.
A foreign exchange dealer and businessman, Alhaji Suleiman Yerima, has accused the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2, Lagos, of directing policemen to torture him over a forex deal that went awry.
According to Yerima, the policemen from Zone 2, led by one Ibrahim Dantoro, a deputy superintendent of police, on the instruction of Mbu, dipped his [Yerima] face into a bucket of water-a form of torture known as “water-boarding” used to extract confessions from terrorists.
In all the ruckus, Mbu was no where to be found, however, the Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said torture had never been used as an instrument of investigation in the police force.
“Any officer who gets involved risks severe sanctions under the law and regulations, it remains unlawful,” he said.
But Yerima wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The businessman penned a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, explaining how he was tortured.
In the letter, he said that he was detained for 80 days by the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, along with his friend, Uwem Antia, who he said was blindfolded and beaten.
According to him, Antia is lying critically ill in a hospital in Lagos and is at the risk of losing his legs, said to have been fractured by policemen who beat him with a heavy wood and “hung him on a pole like a roasted chicken from 11pm till the early hours of the morning.”
“Over 250 people are in EFCC detention cells; some have stayed for four months, some six months. EFCC did water boarding to me and Antia and it was because a friend reached former IG Suleiman Abba that I was not beaten but my life is in danger, the policemen and EFCC officials are out to kill me.”
Yerima’s ordeal began on March 3, 2015, when EFCC operatives phoned him that he was needed at their office in respect of a petition written against him and Antia by one Denis Ale and Mrs. Gladys Aginwa, both of Standard Chartered Bank, Lagos.
He visited the EFCC office with Antia in company with his lawyers and was shown the petition, in which Ale alleged that he gave him N120m to source for dollars and that he had not fulfilled the bargain.
Yerima said, “I told the operatives that it was not N120m but N627m which they sent to Uwem Antia’s account with Zenith Bank. Antia, who is the Managing Director of Kafisto Oil and Gas Ltd., was the one that brought the customers to me and my duty was to source for dollars.
“When Mr. Antia confirmed the alert of N627m in his account, I gave them $1m in cash. The next day, Antia gave them the balance of $2.250m and both transactions were properly documented. During our interrogation, Antia supported our statements with documentary proof of evidence and clearly stated in his written and oral statements that I had given him the balance of $2.250m, which he delivered to Denis Ale.”
In spite of Antia’s statement and evidence exonerating him from any wrongful act in the transaction, the businessman said one Mr. Adeola, Head of BFF at the EFCC, still ordered that he and Antia should be detained.
Yerima said that they were denied bail and access to their families and lawyers by the EFCC Director of Operations, IIiyasu Kwarbai, and that when they challenged the treatment, they were rushed to a magistrate court on March 12, where the commission obtained a detention order for 30 days.
He said, “On the evening of March 13 around 8pm, policemen from Zone 2, led by one DSP Dantoro, came to the EFCC detention facility. Antia was released to the officers on the instruction of Kwarbai and he was handcuffed by the officers and his legs chained.
“The officers started beating him mercilessly in the presence of EFCC officials, the policemen later took him away to their torture chamber at Zone 2 and continued the torture under the directive of Mr. Joseph Mbu and supervised by Dantoro.”
But the EFCC denied detaining Yerima and Antia for extended period of time.
The commission’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, who said he was not aware of Yerima’s case, noted that the anti-graft agency did not keep suspects in its custody unnecessarily.