Friday Batang, 30, and Samson Tanko, 30, nephews of Senator Danjuma Laah, recalled a frightening experience in the hands of masked, armed policemen who forced their way into the Senators home with scores armed MOPOL, morning hours of Monday, 9th March, 2007
The two men who work with Mc Batts Ltd, Kaduna said they were terrified to their bones by the manner they were handled throughout the two hours rigorous search in the house of the Senator representation Southern Kaduna, before being taken under guns to the Kaduna state police command where they were made to write statements before being released.
Batang: “I heard a loud bang on the door. I thought I was dreaming. Then I opened my eyes, and I saw four men with pistols and their faces were half masked. One of them had a walkie-talkie strapped to his shoulder. It was around 5am. The first thing they asked for were our phones. They appeared to me as hired assassins, or armed robbers. But, they were looking well organised and not nervous.
“‘Who are you?’ ” the man with the walkie-talkie asked. We told him we were visiting our uncles.
Friday: “They ordered us out into the compound. That was when I saw that the entire compound was surrounded my very well armed MOPOL. They were everywhere. They maybe up to twenty, all bearing heavy guns. We were taken under gun point back to our room. They searched everywhere in our room: bed, mattress, bags, wardrobe, bags, chairs. They turned the room upside down. When they did not find what they were looking for, they took us out. I thought they were going to shot us, because they kept barking at us. But they made us lead them to my uncles sitting room. They had the security man with them. He later told us that they had threatened with severe consequences if he did not produce they keys to the rooms. So, he was the one that opened the doors. Once a door was opened, we were the first they told to go in. Then they would come and start searching. They tore open furniture covers, and search. They ransacked drawers, took off rugs and scattered documents about.”
Batang: “They even broke an aquarium open thinking there was something hidden under. They broke into the ceiling in two places and one of them climbed up. He came down later and said he did not find anything. Then they went to another room with us with their guns. I was really confused and frightened. I was wondering what they wanted. They took their time and started searching. They tore open every chair cover in the room. Took the mattress upside down and removed the rug. Then somewhere up, they found a case with something. One of them opened it. He said there was a gun inside. Then he brought it out. He also said that there was a gun license inside the case too. They man with the walkie-talkie announced into the walkie-talkie to the person he was conversing with.
Friday: “They kept searching from room to room. It was the same they did in the kitchen, and in the dinning section. We came out again. They went to the generator room and search and search the machine. They found nothing. Then they saw my car. They said we must produced the keys. We did and they did a thorough search on the car: Removed the chairs, search roof, the floor of the car. The searched the boot and the bonnet. They found nothing. One of them came out with him some document they took from the house. Then man with the walkie-talkie said that the documents were not relevant, so it was left on my car.
“I cannot tell you exactly how many things were carried away, because we only went were they wanted us to go and they were so many policemen in the house. And since we were not sure what fate would befall us, we were more interested in behaving well not to attract their wrath than in what they they may be taking away or not. For the gun, which they said was a pump action gun I was sure of that.
“They did not show us any warrant for a search. I don’t know who sent them.
Batang: “They then said that they were taking us away. That we are going to go to their police headquarters. Since were not wearing shoes they allowed us to wear our shoes.
“The search must have taken over two hours. When we came out to enter their vehicle, we saw that the street was full of police. They came in three 18-seater bus, 1 hilux van and a white Mercedes benz E-class with tinted glasses. The plate number was covered. It had some people inside, but we would not be sure how many
“We then drove towards NAFDAC office and they stopped and went into a house. They stayed for sometimes and they came out with a man. We don’t know the man. But we were all brought to the police station. We did not see them bring out anything from the home of the man.
“They brought the three of us to the police station. We were told to write a statement. They emphasised that we must add that a pump action gun was found in the house of the Senator. I did but added that it was found with a license too.
“Around 1pm, they gave us back our phones and said they would be inviting us back from time to time. That was what happened.
“I am still afraid. I’m not sure what would happen to us.”