PETITIONER at the Benue State judicial panel of inquiry into the molestation of citizens by officers of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Terfa Gundu has disclosed that he was arrested and tortured by SARS operatives to confess to a crime that he did not commit.
Gundu, who disclosed this in a chat with journalists during the inaugural sitting of the panel sitting at Court 6, Makurdi, yesterday, said he confessed to the crime to save his life and therefore asked for N5 billion as damages.
He said he left his house to get some provisions at a neighbourhood store when operatives of Nigeria Mobile Force 13, Makurdi, swooped on him, took him away and then tortured him almost to the point of death.
“At around 8am on that fateful day, I was going to buy some items at a store in the neighbourhood when I was rounded up by six operatives of the Mobile Police Force. There were two vehicles – a Peugeot 406 saloon car and a Hilux van.
“They seized me, handcuffed me and took me to their office (Mopol 13 Squadron) and asked me to produce items that I stole from their oga’s house. When I denied knowledge of it they asked me to squat with my hands on my knees, which I did. They then brought an iron rod, put it across my knees and hands, jacked me up on the hanger and mercilessly beat me. Not satisfied, they brought petrol, poured on me and ignited fire on my back.
“When it became unbearable, I asked them to bring me down and then I told them I stole all the items in my house but they insisted that I mentioned the other three people who carried out the operation with me so I had to falsify non-existent names.
“They insisted that I take them to one of my friends that we committed the act together. It was then that I led them to my mother’s office and when they could not identify any one with the name I gave them, they brought me to SARS office at the police headquarters in Makurdi.
“This was after they went to my house and packed things like plasma TV with decoder, my video camera, small generator, my tripod and sound system which I had under duress told them it was stolen. But when my brother showed up with all the invoices of purchase, the items were released to him.
“I am not a thief. I have a car wash and a video recording outfit. In fact, I was putting finishing touches on the video I recorded during the thanksgiving service in honour of the chief judge of the Federal High Court when I went out to get some items that I needed and in the process I was arrested,” the victim narrated.
Gundu also showed off the scars of burns on his buttocks, waist and wounds around his ankle, apparently from the iron rod, fuel and fire that was used on him, adding that he sustained injury on his scrotum as well.
“I want justice to prevail. I have claimed damages of N5 billion,” he said.
Earlier, the chairman of the panel, Justice Adam Onum (rtd) said the panel had so far received 28 complaints from people who were allegedly brutalised by the police.