When Sadiya Shehu Shinkafi of Shinkafi, Zamfara State, sent her younger brother, Shehu Yahaya, to buy some chickens at the Teke market in the neighbouring Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State, she never knew she would never see him alive again. His lifeless body was reportedly found in a nearby bush.
The 25-year-old father of two children was allegedly tortured to death by some policemen at a checkpoint along the Isa-Sabon Birni road. Yahaya was said to have observed that President Buhari had ordered the stoppage of all checkpoints, a comment which was said to have angered the policemen who were purportedly collecting money from drivers.
Narrating the incident, Alhaji Shehu, father of the deceased said: “When the vehicle in which the late Yahaya was travelling moved on, the police at the check- point trailed them because of what he said.”
Yahaya’s friend, Bashar Nahantsi, who was travelling with him recounted: “The policemen ordered the two of us to come out of the vehicle, claiming that they suspected us of drug abuse. We came down and they arrested us, but my late friend freed himself from their grip and ran away, leaving me with them. They stripped me and tied my hands from behind, using my vest. They asked if I had anyone who could stand for me. I said yes and called one of my elders. They did not see him, but they said I should not worry. They tied my hands and feet.
“Later, my friend who ran away came back. I was put under the custody of two mobile policemen under a tree. They asked me to lie low in the grass so they could arrest my friend. They arrested him, but he later escaped into a farm. He was chased by the two mobile policemen.”
Bashar said one of his relatives later came to meet him and negotiated for their bail with N1,500.
“By then, they had come back with my friend in an unconscious state and dumped him on the ground. At that time, he could not even sit properly. I had to support him with my feet before he could sit down.
“After collecting N1, 500, they ordered that I should carry my friend to where we could get a vehicle home. When I realised the condition they had subjected my friend to, I told them I couldn’t do anything.
“I managed to get away from them. It was two days after the encounter, while I was at a village that I got to know of my friend’s death. The police killed him.”
Yahaya’s father, who was away when the incident happened, recalled amidst tears: “I was at Birnin Gwani when the incident happened on Sunday.
I came back home on Tuesday to find out that my house was filled with people. Upon enquiry I was told that my son Yahaya had died. I asked if he was sick and the people told me that it was policemen who killed him at Teke market.”
He said that those who washed and dressed his son’s lifeless body testified that his neck was fractured and that he had bruises on it as though he was strangled.
He added that it was Yahaya’s sister, in the company of a driver, one Kabiru, who went to get the corpse at a hospital in Sabon Birni.
“I have left everything to Allah, but I demand that justice be done,” he concluded.
For Yahaya’s sister, Sadiya also recounted, “0n Sunday morning I gave my younger brother N37, 000 to buy chicken for me, but about 4pm the same day, his wife came to inform me that he dead. His corpse was covered with neem leaves. I uncovered the corpse and discovered it was my younger brother, Yahaya. I regretted that I sent him to his untimely death.”
The Commissioner of Police, Sokoto State command, Salisu Fagge, confirmed that five policemen had been arrested and investigation was still on.
“The deceased’s parents alleged that the police had killed their son at a certain town. We investigated and arrested the policemen who were alleged to have carried out the assault. We called witnesses who testified to us. We will penalise any offender, whoever he is, whether police or civilian. Whoever commits any wrong must be brought to order. The law must take its course. No one should be above the law,” the police boss said, adding, however, that, “There are procedures to be followed before the suspects are taken to court. We have to follow due process.”