On October 18, men of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Bauchi State Command, led by one Baba Ayatu otherwise known as Gombe went on the loose in Wunti Dada market where they ganged up to brutalise the duo of Auwal Abdullahi and Aminu Alkali who are neighbours to the gang’s leader. They were punished not for a drug-related offence, but for Ayatu’s missing rice, palm oil and a bucket.
The officers would later invade Abdullahi’s house, where one of them attempted to rape his wife, Aisha Auwal, a nursing mother. “Two among them came into our compound and one stood by the door while the other came inside,” Aisha told WikkiTimes. “He started molesting me and pushed me to the bed. I struggled to get up and shouted for help. That was when his colleague told him they should leave.”
“While trying to escape from the scene, his phone fell and he packed it immediately. Unfortunately for him, he did not know he left his memory at the scene,” Aisha continued.
HER HUSBAND’S ORDEAL
Abdullahi, her husband had been brutalised some minutes before she almost got raped.
He was in his marketplace at Wuntin Dada when he spotted the officers of the agency clad in Mufti, brutalising Alkali. The officers would descend on him after he tried to save Alkali. “They were about four, punching me repeatedly,” Abdullahi explained.
“They came after me for missing rice, palm oil and a bucket which I know nothing about,” Alkali cuts in. “At first, I don’t know who they are until they said I must follow them to their office to go and write statement.”
Alkali further explained that the officer that led them, Ayatu, accused him of buggling his room to steal rice, palm oil and a bucket. “But I told him that I know nothing about it and they keep beating me insisting I must follow them to office. That was when I shouted kidnappers, and that drew the attention of Abdullahi who was still outside by the time. The incident took place around 09:00 pm in the evening.
Subsequently, the victims reported the matter to Council for Affirmative Action (COFAA), a Bauchi-based human rights organisation who later petitioned NDLEA to investigate the abuse of human rights allegations against its officers. But the agency seems to be backing its officers as it attempts cover-up.
Three days after the rights group petitioned the command, the latter responded in a letter signed by Negedua A. Nathaniel (DCN) Deputy State Commander, demanding that Mbami Iliya Sabka, COFAA’s boss and the victims appear in its office for investigation.
“I am directed to request you to avail the office with the under listed Actors for in depth Investigation on the matter. Mr. Auwal Abdullahi, Aminu Aminu Alkali, Village Head of Wuntin Dada, Aisha Auwal and Mbami Iliya Sabka (Human Rights Defender),” the command stated in the letter. “You are therefore requested to come to NDLEA Bauchi State Command Headquarters, Mechanic Village Bauchi by 10:00am on Monday the 31st day of October, 2022 with all concerned actors mentioned above.”
When the victims alongside representatives of COFAA honoured the invitation, the command forced the victims to recant their allegations against its officers and also detained the members of the rights group for over six hours.
“They took our statements including that of a representative of the village head. They asked us about the missing bucket and other stuffs and we told them we know nothing about it,” Abdullahi said. “Afterwards, they asked if we got Ayatu’s name on the missing bucket, but we said no.”
At some point, the officers urged them to return to COFAA to withdraw the case, according to Abdullahi. “After spending over nine hours in their office we returned home. But they threatened with court and blamed me for reporting to an NGO,” he said. “One of them even came to me and said we should go and tell the NGO we have witdrwan the case.”
Although, Femi Babafemi, spokesman for NDLEA assured WikkiTimes that the agency’s headquarters will follow up the case and any “infraction” would be dealt with. But the agency’s command in Bauchi is courting a meeting with Sabka, the founder of COFAA.
COME AND MEET ME
When contacted for his comment, Ayatu who led his colleagues to the October 18 scene denied knowing the victims. He, however, admitted that he is an officer with NDLEA. But he declined to comment further. “Come and meet me and talk to me,” he said before hanging up.