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“How I was tortured to confess involvement with Evans”- ex-soldier

"I was still being told to sign some papers but I refused and was told that if I keep refusing, I will travel (slang for killing). At that point Idowu Haruna brought out his phone for me to look at some pictures. When I looked at it I discovered it was the dead bodies of the three men with whom I was in custody. That was how I was forced to sign the papers,"

The activities of the police officers serving under the suspended commander of the Intelligence Response Team(IRT), DCP Abba Kyari came to the fore on Tuesday at an Ikeja High Court as a defendant in the ongoing trial of Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans narrated how he was tortured to confess involvement in the kidnappings carried out by Evans.

Victor Aduba, a former soldier with the Nigerian Army, narrated how an aide of Kyari, Inspector  Idowu Haruna tortured him to the point of confession to the crime of kidnapping. The Nigerian Army had since dismissed Aduba, and another soldier standing trial with Evans, Chilaka Ifeanyi over the accusations. Both however denied the charges preferred against them by the prosecutors.

The ex-soldier, led in evidence by his counsel, Mr Emmanuel Ochai said that he was invited by an acquaintance, Mr Chukwuma Nwosu to a bar in Ago, Lagos but unknown to him, Nwosu was wanted by the police.

He narrated further: “As I reached the bar, he (Nwosu) was acting unusual and I kept asking what was wrong with him and then I noticed five policemen who approached me and said I was under arrest. I resisted and they overpowered me and when I got to the police station, one Mr Philip, their boss, said I should cooperate with them and do whatever they say I should do. I told them they should allow me to go to my office where I worked as a soldier but they refused,” he said.

Aduba said that he was ordered by a member of IRT,  Inspector Idowu Haruna to sign a written statement admitting to the crime but he refused. He alleged he was ordered to be taken to a “theatre” by Mr Phillip where he was beaten and was cut with a machete by Haruna. 

Aduba during his testimony, showed his alleged machete injury to the court, saying that while in the custody of IRT, three men- Felix Chinemeren, Paul Samyan and Chukwuma Nwosu who were initially paraded to the media as kidnappers were extra-judicially killed by the IRT team.

He said: “I was still being told to sign some papers but I refused and was told that if I keep refusing, I will travel (slang for killing). At that point Idowu Haruna brought out his phone for me to look at some pictures. When I looked at it I discovered it was the dead bodies of the three men with whom I was in custody. That was how I was forced to sign the papers,” he said.

To corroborate his claims, Ochai, Aduba’s counsel, tendered to the court a record of court proceedings of a kidnap trial held on Nov. 5, 2018 before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo. In the records of proceedings,  Haruna had in his testimony admitted that the three deceased had died in police custody.

Aduba in his evidence vehemently denied working with Evans. “On Feb.14, 2017 (the day of Dunu’s kidnap) I was on 24-hour guard duty at the Abati Barracks gate. I even told Insp Idowu Haruna to check out my alibi but he said it was none of his business. I have never conspired with anybody, neither have I gone with anybody to kidnap anyone,” he said.

While being cross-examined by the prosecution lawyer, Adebayo Haroun, Aduba said he was enlisted by the Nigerian Army in Aug.15, 2009 and had known Ifeanyi since 2010.

He described Ifeanyi’s evidence that he conveyed him in a vehicle with a locally made weapon as “a fabricated story”. Aduba denied Haroun’s allegations that he was one of the soldiers which Evans had in a recorded confession admitted were members of his gang.

Haroun also noted that in the records of proceedings of Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, Haruna in his evidence never said he traveled (killed) anyone in his custody. The prosecutor noted that  Haruna had in his evidence said that the three men had died in the custody of the police at Ikorodu General Hospital.

Responding to questions from the prosecution, Aduba said he was never dismissed by the Nigerian Army over allegations of kidnapping. “The charges against me by the military was that I was AWOL. I was never given the chance to challenge my dismissal by the army,” he said.

The other ex- soldier, Chilaka Ifeanyi also denied involvement in the crime. 

Led in evidence by defence counsel,  Mr A.A Uzoukwu, Ifeanyi said he was acquainted with Aduba and had worked with him as a soldier. He said one day, he was requested by another acquaintance, Mr Ikenna Chukwuma to help him drive a car from a mechanic’s workshop at Ijesha, Lagos to Surulere, Lagos.

He told the court that when they got to the mechanic’s workshop, the car had not been repaired and Chukwuma had  called a friend to pick them up from the workshop.

“When I entered the vehicle with Chukwuma, I saw Mr Victor Aduba (sixth defendant) in the vehicle and there was a weapon inside the vehicle. When I asked what the weapon was doing there, the driver told me to keep quiet and mind my business. I was asked if I know what AP is and I said no then I was told to keep quiet and mind my business.

He said: “My Lord, they did not carry anybody in that vehicle and they did not kidnap anybody. Reaching Cele Bus stop, I told them I was uncomfortable and asked to alight. I was dropped off at Cele Bus stop and they warned that if they heard anything from me, they would kill me and I went back home,” Ifeanyi said.

Responding to questions from Evans’ defence counsel, Mr Victor Okpara, Chilaka said he did not know Evans and met him for the first time in police custody.

“I have never taken part in any kidnap activities in my life. I have never attempted to kidnap anyone before or conspired with Evans to kidnap the victim (Dunu),” he said.

Under cross-examination by the lead prosecutor, Haroun, Chilaka said it was a locally made weapon he saw in the vehicle and he did not know the reason why he was warned not to reveal what transpired.

The ex-soldiers are facing trial alongside Evans, Uche Amadi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu and Ogechi Uchechukwu for the alleged kidnap of Mr Donatius Dunu, the Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceuticals.

The trial judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi adjourned the case until Nov. 5, 2021 for adoption of final written addresses.

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