Twenty – four hours after a detective with the Department of State Security (DSS), gave evidence that none of the suspects facing trial before a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos over unlawful and illegal importation of 661 pump action guns into the country, were tortured during investigation and interrogation by the Department, one of the suspects, Mamudu Hassan, on Wednesday, told Justice Ayotunde Faji, that he was subjected to psychological trauma, during the period he spent with the Department.
Specifically, Hassan, a retired Assistant Comptroller of Customs (ACC), told the court that his legs and hands were always chained while he was blindfolded since he was transferred to the DSS by Nigeria Customs Services (NCS), on March 10, 2017, till when they were charged to court on June 14.
He however stated that the only time that the chains and blindfold were removed from him was when he wanted to write statement and the day his lawyer visited him.
Hassan stated this while being led by his lawyer, Mr. Yakubu Galadima, during trial-within-trial of the case.
A detective with the Department, Jaiye Emmanuel, had on Tuesday, told the court that none of the accused were chained during interrogation by his agency.
Mamudu Hassan, his company, Hassan Mamudu Nigeria Limited, alongside Salisu Abdulahi Danjuma, Oscar Orkafor, Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo and Matthew Okoye, who is said to be at large, are before the court on charge bordering on illegal importation of fire arms, conspiracy, forgery and altering of documents, offering of graft to government officials and importation of prohibited goods.
They were all charged before the court by Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) on June 14, 2017 on the alleged offences, which according to the prosecutors, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye and Peter Okunrinmodu, are contrary to and punishable under sections 3(6),1(14) (a)(I) 1(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. And section 98(1) (b) of the Criminal Code Act.
At the resumed of the trial-within-trial, yesterday, Mamudu said: “on March 10, 2017 myself and Osita Okafor, were handed over to DSS, they came with four or five pick-up cars, they separated us. Before then, one of them was standing outside and they (DSS) chained my legs and hands. I was equally blindfolded with black cloth, then I was ordered to enter the pick-up, and I was told to lie down, all the officers had guns with them.
“We were blindfolded from Customs office to DSS office, on the arrival at the DSS office, we were told to sit on the floor, and I told them to remove the chain on my legs and hands, and the blindfold but they did not answer me.
“One of the officers asked me if am the owner of the container, I said no, but it was given to me to clear. He told me that by the time he finished with me, I will tell him and that by the time he finished with me, I will say the truth.
“They took us to see a doctor at their clinic, the doctor asked us of our medical record, and I told him that I have pile, am hypertensive, I don’t breathe very well, and that I am on medication, with all these, but no medication was given to me, I was left to myself, and I was still blindfolded”.
The accused also said on March 11, he told the operatives that he wanted to see his lawyer, he was not answered. And that on March 12, he made a first statement with the DSS, in a conference room, that was when the blindfold was removed, and that they told him to cooperate with them in his statement, but he told the operatives that he stands by his statement, and that he wanted to see his lawyer.
He also told the court that after he demanded to see his lawyer, a cloth was tied round his head and the operatives started pouring water on him, and that when the torture was on, one Mr. Odu came in and told him to confess, else, he would be taken to ground cell shot him there and that nothing will happen as they are government agent, but he told them that he knew nothing about content of the container.
The accused however stated that he changed his mind and told the operatives that he’s ready to cooperate when the situation became more tense and his BP was becoming high.
He said about five men pointed guns at him while writing the statement, and the blindfold was removed but immediately after he finished the statement, he was blindfolded again and chained both on the legs and hands and led into the cell.
Mamudu also stated that on March 27, 2017, he was led to conference room again, where he met about eight men but five were armed, and he was shown two bill of Lading, but he told the operatives that he only know the one given to him by Osita Okafor (third accused).
During cross-examination by the prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, the accused told the court that he wrote all the three statements by himself, and that all the periods he wrote the statements, he was not blindfolded and no chain was put on his legs and hands.
He also told the court that he knew the third accused while serving the Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, and that he has been sending him to buy China steel doors for him anytime he has little money.
The matter has been adjourned till May 2, for adoption of written addresses in the trial-within-trial.
AGF in charge number FHC/L/190c/17, alleged that all the accused persons conspired with one another to illegally import into Nigeria 661 Pump Action Rifles.
They were also alleged to have forged the documents which includes: two Bill of Ladings, one reads ‘Shanghai, China’, as Port of Loading, instead of ‘Istanbul’, and another one which reads: ‘Steel Doors’, as the contents of the container instead of Customs’ Form M, Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) used in smuggling the said 661 rifles into the country.
In particular, Mahmud Hassan, a retired Assistant Comptroller of Customs, was alleged to corruptly offered the sum of N400, 000.00, to one Aliu Musa, the Examination Officer of the Federal Operation Unit of the Customs Service with an intent to prevent hundred percent search on a container marked PONU 825914/3, which was used in bringing into the country the said arms.
He was also alleged to have corruptly gave the sum of N1 million to Government officials at Apapa Port, through his colleague, Danjuma Abdulahi, in order to prevent the searching of the said container used in bringing in the 661 illegally imported Pump Action rifles.