A real estate manager and haulage consultant, Afeez Mojeed, on Saturday alleged that he was brutalised and robbed of over N41million by a team of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abba Kyari.
He made the claims while testifying before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS related abuses and related matters.
The 38-year-old said his ordeal began at his home in Victory Estate, Ajah, on October 18, 2014, but that following the persistence of his lawyer; he was arraigned and released on bail on October 31, 2014, after spending 14 days in police custody.
Mojeed said: “I was in my apartment around 8-9pm in my sitting room with my two-year-old son and my mother-in-law, watching the television. My wife was in the kitchen cooking; she was five months pregnant.
“I heard a big bang on my door with a voice saying “open this door or I bring down the door.”
The petitioner said at first, he refused to open the door, thinking they were armed robbers. When he summoned courage and opened it, four armed men in mufti pounced on him.
They knocked him to the ground and slapped his expectant wife countless times for asking what the problem was?
After chaining his legs and handcuffing both hands behind his back, he testified that one of the men pulled off his wedding ring from his finger and took his Tissot wristwatch from the table.
He added: “They also collected my wife’s wedding rings after giving her several slaps. They went to my room, approached my cupboard, took the sum of N280, 000 and ransacked all aspects of my house.”
The petitioner said the men also collected several documents from him.
These included his Zenith Bank current account checkbook, ATM card, Diamond Bank corporate account cheque book, four documents for landed properties, two shop documents, ID card, car documents and car key to a Honda Accord 2008 model. They searched his car, took the sum of N50, 000 from it; put him in their Toyota Sienna and drove off to Ikeja Command. When they got there around 11pm, he was informed that the allegation against him was that his car “was a stolen vehicle.”
Another round of beating began and he was tortured by the SARS officers till around 2am, before he was put in a cell.
The victim said the police came the next day to ask for the password to his phone. He gave them, and on seeing his bank alerts, they returned for him.
Mojeed said: “They came back that I should give them the password to my personal account. They collected the ATM, I gave them the wrong pin…they could not cash out.
“Later that day, they pointed at (a man) Edward Obinna and claimed that I defrauded him of N97 million. Immediately I asked Mr. Edward how much I defrauded him? He said he paid the money to my corporate account and I asked them to allow me to get the bank statement to show proof.
“He later changed his story that he paid to Yusuf Olatunji Balogun, my cousin, the sum of N97million to procure some earth-moving equipment and he had been working with Mr. Olatunji Balogun for the past two years and that Balogun paid the money into my account and that the money was with me.”
He explained that Balogun pays him some money to buy properties on his behalf.
“I buy properties for him and whenever he is in Nigeria, I tender his documents to him. I have never seen Obinna nor had any business dealings with him; he also admitted that he does not know me,” the petitioner added.
He accused the policemen of handcuffing, hanging him on a pole and beating him with the flat side of a machete.
“On October 22, under the supervision of (Deputy Commissioner of Police and Commander of the IGP Intelligence Response Team), Abba Kyari, I signed a check from my personal account – N150, 000 twice – to a faceless Nurudeen Alabi.
“I was taken to Ecobank at Ikota, Ajah that same day that I had money there. There was an amount I fixed with Ecobank, they brought me to unfix it and transfer the money to them. The total amount was N15million.
The Account Manager suspected something was off and did not accept my application,” he told the panel.
“They wanted me to transfer N41 million from my Diamond corporate account to Edward Obinna. Due to the process of terminating the fee, they asked me to come back the following day,” he added.
In tears, Mojeed said he was returned to Ikeja, where the police started another round of torture, saying he played a prank on them.
“At this time, they beat me so much that I could not see anymore, I was just hearing words.
“After I regained consciousness, they took me back to the cell. Around midnight, they brought me out with some inmates to unload three dead bodies in Hilux bus and threatened that if I didn’t comply, that was how they would waste me.
“On October 23, the following day, they took me back to Ajah, Diamond Bank. Before getting to the bank, they stopped by a boutique and bought me new clothes, jeans and cleaned me up and wore me the new clothes they bought for me.
“Mr. Edward Obinna was behind us in his own car, following us. I was being led inside the bank; two officers went inside with me and sat like customers”.
He accused Obinna of accompanying him to where he picked a transfer form and wired N41 million to his account, adding that they waited at the bank until he received the alert.
Mojeed further told the panel that he was tortured and told to write a note and sign it that he transferred N41 million to Obinna willingly.
The victim added that on October 24, 2014, he was taken to another Zenith Bank branch, where he transferred N800, 000 to Obinna. He also paid another sum of N150, 000 via a cheque to Nurudeen Alabi, under the supervision of Abba Kyari, the then OC, SARS.
“After achieving their objective, the police put a call through to my wife; that she can terminate the presence of my lawyer that they are going to resolve the matter, he said.
He explained that following the persistence of his lawyer, he was arraigned and released on bail on October 31, 2014, after spending 14 days in police custody.
The victim said he suffered poor sight and could not hear properly after the incident. He went to Ajeromi General Hospital, Ajegunle, where he was treated.