Despite the uproar and condemnation trailing the killings by Fulani herdsmen in Benue and Taraba States, over the Police and security agencies’ handling of the crisis, Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police (IGP) has again managed to open a new controversy on another front after an alleged high handedness in dealings with a London based lawyer and online publisher, and his journalist brother, Tim and Daniel Elombah, respectively, over a publications on a separate platform other than the one managed by Tim and Daniel.
The article in question was published on opinionnigeria.com. While details of the gist bear striking resemblance to an earlier expose by Senator Mesau which is still a matter of Senate Probe and litigation in the court of law, the online article further explored in new details how love struck IGP appears to be relating with his new wife, Astha Ibrahim, a former low ranking officer, who then went ahead to enjoy rapid promotion after her romantic involvement with the chief of police.
The article further impugned the head of police, accusing him of handing over operational responsibilities like officers’ transfer to the wife, even though retired. There hasn’t been any formal rebuttal from the office of the IGP. While Idris is in Benue after being ordered to relocate by President Mohammadu Buhari after the killings of over 70 community residents in the state, Tim and Daniel suffer different agonies in the hands of men of the State Anti Robbery Squads, SARS, after being plucked from their Nnewi home on 1 January this year.
The IGP apparently holds them squarely responsible for the publication.
Tim Elombah is still held incommunicado by the police. Daniel on the other hand is in intensive care at a private hospital in Garki where police have since continued to harass him. At the hospital, when armada visited Daniel, it was gathered from one of the doctors that the journalist had to be put under sedation on account of his spiraling blood pressure.
But late last week, Daniel was summoned by SARS to the police headquarters. Explaining his ordeal, Daniel said. “I was summoned to the SARS and asked to be there by 10am. I obeyed the summons. They took my statement and allowed me to go but my brother remains in detention.
“The remand order for him expired on Tuesday last week, but Tim is still being detained illegally,” Daniel stated.
On the 1st day of January 2018, men of the Federal Special Anti-Armed Robbery Squad, SARS, numbering about fifteen and armed to the teeth allegedly stormed the family compound of the Elombah’s in Edoji, Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State.
The men who struck around 5.00am on New Year day, climbed over the gate with a ladder and ransacked the entire house. At the end of the operation, six adult male members of the family including Daniel and Tim Elombah were handcuffed, herded into a bus and driven to the SARS Nnewi office where they were briefly detained. Mobile phones and laptops belonging to the members of the family were seized by the team.
No one explained the reason for their arrest thereby throwing the entire family, including their aged mother, their wives and little children into great distress.
Repeated requests for reasons for their arrests were met with a terse, “you’ll be told at the station,” from the policemen.
Their lawyer who attempted to find out the reason for the arrest was told in express terms that they were “acting on orders from above” and was not even allowed to talk to them.
From Nnewi, they were driven to the SARS headquarters in Awkuzu, near Awka, again without being told the reason for their arrest.
At the SARS state headquarters, they were handed over to a different set of four armed men who were later identified as officers from the Special Tactical Squad, STS, a crack team of operatives directly in the office of Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police.
The team leader of the STS explained to them that the Inspector General of Police, IGP, personally ordered the arrest because Tim Elombah, allegedly published an article on the online media, Elombah.com, which article was allegedly aimed at blackmailing the IGP. Repeated requests for details of the offending article were not met but they were told that they would be given the details in Abuja. The STS team leader thereafter released the eldest of the Elombah brothers while three Elombah’s namely: Daniel, Tim and Izuchukwu Elombah, were herded in handcuffs into another bus after they were briefly interrogated.
At this point, the brothers repeatedly requested to be told the offence for which they were arrested but were ignored. The allegation against Izuchukwu, a trader in Niger State was also not provided.
They left Anambra state and arrived at the STS Abuja office around 5:00pm. Tim who is also the editor-in-chief of the online news medium, Elombah.com was grilled for nearly three hours while Daniel and Izuchukwu were detained behind the Counter. All three were eventually interrogated separately for several hours. It thereafter emerged that Tim was accused of publishing the article on opinionnigeria.com.
Attempts at getting Force spokesman, Moshood Jimoh, proved unsuccessful after refusing to neither pick calls nor respond to text.
However, Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, OPAN, have since petitioned the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Reps, Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, respectively.
In their letter, through their lawyer, Malizu Iwudoh of Imperial Legal, Lagos, the association urged the lawmakers wade into the matter. They specically sought three prayers: that the lawmakers condemn the arrests and call the IGP to order; conduct a hearing into the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the detention of the Elombah’s, and the continued detention of Tim Elombah and to conduct a hearing into the excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, unit of the Nigerian Police Force.