Sang chieftaincy clash: Suspect dies in custody, rights group kicks

One of the Sayawa leaders remanded in the Bauchi custodial centre of the Nigerian Correctional Service in connection with the recent communal clash over chieftaincy tussle in Sang community of Bogoro Local Government Area of Bauchi State, one Yusuf Bala, is reported to have died in detention.

The recent clash in the village was a result of the installation of a hamlet head for Sang, leading to the death of one person, while houses were razed and other properties destroyed.

The incident led to the arrest by the state police command of the Gung Zaar select, Air Commodore Ishaku Komo (retd) and five other Sayawa leaders.

Following this development, a human rights group, Council for Affirmative Action (COFAA), has called on the state governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, to, as the Chief Security Officer of the state, categorically condemn the actions of the state Commissioner of Police, the Comptroller of Nigeria Correctional Services and two Senior Special Advisers to the governor.

COFAA alleged that the persons it mentioned in a letter it wrote to the governor to draw his attention to Yusuf Bala’s death in custody appeared to be undermining the principles and objectives of the governor’s administration.

The COFAA’s letter dated May 17, 2023 and signed by Mbami Iliya Sabka, Undercover Human Rights Defender, Executive Director Council For Affirmative Action, was titled, “Re: Emergency: Letter of Complaint and Demand against Commissioner of Police, Controller of Nigeria Correctional Services and two other Senior Special Advisers to the Governor for criminal conspiracy, gross inhumane treatment, abuse of power and the murder of Yusuf Bala as well as the attempted killing of Air Commodore Ishaku Komo rtd, Gung Zaar-select and five others in Bauchi custodial centre.”

According to the group, it was drawing the attention of the governor to a grave matter of concern involving high-ranking officials within his administration.

“We, the Council for Affirmative Action, write this letter to bring to your attention, a grave matter of concern involving high-ranking officials within your administration.

“We have received a complaint from the relatives of the victims, alleging that two members of your cabinet who serve as Senior Special Advisers conspired with the Commissioner of Police and the Controller of Nigeria Correctional Services to perpetrate acts of gross inhumanity, abuse of power, and murder.

“The incidents in question occurred at the Bauchi Custodial Centre and are detailed as follows: “On the 15th day of April 2023, at approximately 1900hrs, it is alleged that the two aforementioned Senior Special Advisers contacted the Commissioner of Police via phone, reporting a communal clash in Sang Village of Borogo LGA, purportedly stemming from the coronation of a hamlet head of Sang Village named Mr. Mathew Ishaya.

“Subsequently, the Commissioner of Police, acting upon the information provided by the Senior Special Advisers, invited Air Commodore Ishaku Komo via phone call and promptly arrested Matthew Ishaya, Yakubu Bala, Appolos Hassan, Nathaniel Joshua, Abenagu Zakka, and James Dajum,” the letter read in part.

The group stated that as of the time of the installation of the Hamlet head, the Gung Zaar select, Air Commodore Komo (retd), was in Kaduna residence, adding that he was eventually invited and arrested by the police upon honouring the invitation sent to him.

The group stated in the letter that the arrested suspects were informed by the police that their arrest and detention were ordered by the Government House, adding that they were then subjected to severe torture for duration of three days in police custody.

It added that they were charged with offences bordering on criminal conspiracy, inciting disturbance of public peace, mischief by fire, causing grievous hurt and culpable homicide against Apollos Danlami and Naemiya Bature.

“Subsequently, the victims were transferred to the Bauchi Custodial Centre of the Nigeria Correctional Services, Bauchi State Command, where the dehumanization continued,” the human rights organisation said.

“Tragically, one of the victims, Yusuf Bala (Bature), lost his life due to the inhumane treatment he endured while in prison.”

It then raised the alarm that Air Komo and others are currently in a state of coma as a result of the ongoing torture they are experiencing within the Bauchi Custodial Centre.

It stated that, according to its investigation, the remains of the late Bala have been deposited in the mortuary of the Abubakar Tafawa Balawa Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH) in Bauchi.

The group then asked the governor if his Senior Special Advisers, within a democratic society, possess the authority to instruct the police and correctional personnel to dehumanise the victims and unlawfully murder the late Bala without following due process of law.

“We earnestly request that you intervene promptly and order the immediate release of the victims for the sake of their safety and the restoration of public peace,” COFAA demanded.

Meanwhile, when contacted to react to the development, Bauchi State Police Command Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Ahmed Mohammed Wakili declined comment and simply said, “Ask the court or the correctional service because it is contempt of court now.”

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