happened in Farida Waziri’s EFCC where she presides and run the place like her business empire.One of the inmates
recently detailed how gold loving Waziri visited the EFCC office at the dead of
the night to harass inmates and threatened them to confess. Excerpts
I make this incident report on behalf and at the request of
all the current inmates of the EFCC detention facility at the Okotie Eboh Street,
Ikoyi, Lagos. I
do so fully aware of the dangers and consequences of disclosing or pointing out
any of the ugly truth about the EFCC. Yet, I am certain that this report is
proper under Nigerian Law and Constitution. Around midnight on Friday, Nov. 11,
2011, as the inmates of this cell were sleeping, the EFCC guards on duty rushed
into the cell block ordering and urging all the inmates to get up and step out
because the chairman of the EFCC wanted to see all of us. We quickly got out
our cells, scrambling to put on some clothes. There was much confusion as most
of the inmates waking from sleep tried to figure out what was going on. But
within minutes, we all lined up in the hall way. The guards matched us out of
the cell into the yard separating the cell block and the offices of the
facility. There was no light in the yard, as there had been power outage all
evening. Flash lights were flying in all directions as some as some EFCC staff
and gun wielding policemen hurriedly
moved about in the yard and around the inmates.
As we stood in three columns in front of the cell building,
we could make out the figure of a lady in a Nigerian traditional dress sitted
on the walkway across the yard and making or taking calls on her cell phones.
Standing around her were some EFCC staff and two policemen. We figured that
must be the chairman of the EFCC. Otherwise, it was not possible to make out
the face of anybody in the darkness.
As the lady sat and faced in the direction of the inmates,
the cell guards, assisted by the other EFCC staff, made a roll call of the
inmates. We all answered as our names were called. After the general roll call,
they called out the names of those inmates who the names of those inmates who
were being detained pursuant to court orders. They were separated from the rest
of us. The guards were calling from the list in their hands illuminated poorly
with their lights.
At this point, the chairman of the EFCC stood from her
chair, which was about 12 feet from where the inmates stood. She began to
address the inmates by asking about those whose cases had been charged to
court. The first person she called upon was asked what he did. She probably
meant to ask what offence the person was changed with, or alleged to have
committed, if not yet charged with. The next person she called upon was Alhaji
Danjuma. She asked him what he did. Danjuma said he did not really do anything.
Indeed Danjuma’s story has been that he owed someone money and was making
arrangement to pay it back like in any contractual debt obligation. However,
his creditor reported him to the EFCC and he was arrested and has since been
abused by the EFCC staff. Consistent with his story, he responded to the
chairman of EFCC by saying that he had not committed any offence. But the
chairman looked at the paper against Danjuma’s name and accused him of lying.
She insisted that Danjuma committed an offence. She came to this position just
because the letters “OBT” were marked next to Danjuma’s name. This meant, of
course, only that those who arrested and detained Danjuma chose to accuse him of
that particular offence. Otherwise, the paper before the chairman made no
reference to evidence or circumstances of the case. The chairman was clearly
intimidating the man and she insisted that he was a liar. Danjuma had no choice
but to keep quiet.
The next person he chairman spoke to was Hamisu, Danjuma’s
cousin. His only offence was that he was that he was the messenger that was
sent to pick up an envelope from the creditor. Indeed the EFCC officers had
made it clear that they were detaining him for the sole purpose of pressuring
Danjuma to cooperate with them, whatever that meant. The chairman had no
patience to hear Hamisu. She stopped him in mid sentence and moved to the next
person who was a man that could not speak English. As someone tried to translate
for the man, the Chairman said it was taking too long. She stopped it.
Then the chairman called upon an inmate an inmate known as
Engineer Francis, a 60-year old man who has been held in detention without
being charged to court since August. His offense was that he had introduced a
man who wanted to borrow money, but lacked collateral, to another man who
provided collateral for a fee. Francis had no further involvement in the loan
process and Francis never expected or received even a dime from the
transaction. When the borrower could not pay back the loan, the creditor went to
EFCC, which decided to arrest Francis for introducing the men. The brief
exchange between the chairman and Francis was very revealing of how the mind of
the chairman works and her understanding of the law and attitude to law
When Francis summarized his case, the chairman cut in,
saying that he was guilty of the offence of introducing someone. The chairman
insisted it is an offense under Nigerian Law to introduce a borrower who
defaults on the loan. When Francis tried to explain to the Chairman that he did
not guarantee the loan and that he was not a party to the loan agreement and
was not even present when the loan agreement was signed, the chairman ridiculed
him, calling him a pocket lawyer and told him that was why he was so emaciated
and looked small in size. At that point, two of the EFCC staff in a bid to help
their chairman began to say that Francis was guilty of the offense of
conspiring to introduce somebody to somebody.
The chairman clearly had no patience to pursue any subject
at all. She turned and began to address the entire inmates. She said that we
were all guilty of whatever offence we were accused of. She urged us to confess
in order for us to receive mercy. She threatened that unless we confessed she
was going to send any of the inmates she pleased to Adeniyi Adele and Panti.
She said that in those places we would have to prepare our wills. The two
places she mentioned were two police detention cells known for extreme
brutality, torture and extra judicial killings. When she made this threat, the
EFCC staff around her laughed knowingly indicating their common awareness of
such extraordinary rendition. For anyone to be sent to any of those two places
is literally to be sent to a gas chamber. There was a grave silence among the
inmates on the mention of the Chairman’s plan for “non-cooperating inmates. The
silence and the terror were palpable in the eyes of the inmates.
After issuing the chilling threat, the chairman of EFCC
turned away indicating it was the end of the visit which lasted approximately
45 minutes. The end was so abrupt that everybody understood that the main
purpose of her visit was to send a message to someone that she capable of
extreme cruelty and causing a slow and painful death. I did get that message,
even though she clearly avoided calling on me.
The inmates were returned to the cell. They were all
horrified visibly worried and greatly agitated. All were disappointed at the
cold and tendecious and callous behavior of the EFCC chairman. Where is the
humanity? Where is the professionalism? Where is the common sense of it all?
All these seem to be questions in worried minds of the inmates. Many began to
pray about it.
Beside the collective feelings of the inmates, which I
shared in entirely, I understand that what happened tonight had very profound
personal meanings to me. EFCC’s leadership had just demonstrated to me that it
had no limit to depravity, cruelty and impunity. In view of the deep
disagreement between the EFCC and me and my continued criticism of their brutality
and massive abuses there is no doubt the leadership of EFCC has a death wish
for me. I was just reminded how easy it is for them to accomplish that wish.
In light of what happened tonight, it is clear to all
inmates of EFCC cell that they would not be allowed their due process rights
while in the custody of EFCC. Many of them have suffered greatly as EFCC
officials systematically trampled upon their rights and their fundamental
liberties. It is now clear that what they had thought were aberrations from
individual officers of the EFCC are actually the real operating procedure of
the commission. These inmates are now urgently looking to share their
predicament with the world. Tonight’s visit by the Chairman of the EFCC cell
leaves no one in doubt.