For more than six years now, life has not been good for Mariya Aliyu as she does not know the whereabouts of her son. All her efforts to see him since then has not been successful.
“We woke up and were told that my son was picked in the night. Myself and other concerned individuals have attempted many times to know the offence he committed, but our efforts were futile,’ Mariya, the mother of Isa Umar, a 300-level student of the Department of Library and Information Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria lamented.
She said Isa was arrested in Kaduna over six years ago by military personnel, who later handed him over to the operatives of the Department of Security Service (DSS).
“The past six years have been frightening and disturbing to Isa’s 60-year-old mother. She has not found life easy. Since the arrest of her son, she has been experiencing psychological trauma. She was hospitalised on severally occasions,’’ Anas Adamu, Isa’s childhood friend and schoolmate said.
He recalled how they started their degree programme at the ABU prior to his arrest, saying he knew nothing bad about his friend.
“Throughout our childhood friendship, to the moment he was arrested, there was not any trace of crime in his character. He is humble. I can remember when he was serving as a teacher at one Islamic school called Madrasatu Tarbiyyatil Islamiyya wa lugatil Arabiyya, also known as Danraka in Samaru, Kaduna. To the best of my knowledge, nobody among his colleagues would tell you he had offended them.
“I was surprised that my friend was arrested by security operatives, alongside some of his friends who slept in a mosque called Khalid bin Walid Masjid, near his family house. He was also a committee member of the mosque,’’ he recalled.
During inquiries by Daily Trust Saturday, a source said all he knew about the whole thing is that Isa had a misunderstanding with some clerics in his community because he was alleged to have an extremist ideology.
“The misunderstanding started at their Islamiyya, where he was a teacher. I was told that sometime ago, a certain amount of money was raised to fund the school, but some of the teachers said it should be shared, a move that was vehemently rejected by Umar and few of his colleagues. After the argument, they were branded extremists. Thereafter, all of them were arrested but later released after spending almost N300,000,” our source narrated.
Isa was later rearrested by the DSS and no reason was officially given to his family.
“We have searched virtually all the security custodies in Kaduna, looking for him, but our efforts are to no avail. The Kaduna State command of the DSS had told us to go to their headquarters in Abuja. Upon arrival in Abuja, we were told to go back to Kaduna as they said he was not in their custody. The two offices have been tossing us about without cogent reasons why he was arrested. No one has been able to tell us his whereabouts.
“Since his arrest, I have been traumatised. I am not at rest because I know he is innocent. He did not commit any crime. I have suffered sleepless nights. All I can say is that Allah is there for us since he did not hurt or cheat anybody,’’ Isa’s mother lamented.
Without any reasonable response from the DSS on why Isa was arrested, his family approached the court to seek redress. On May 7, 2017, Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court, Kaduna delivered a verdict, directing the security agency to release him as he has been in their custody since 2014.
The judgement was delivered in a suit number FHC/KD/CS/66/2016). The court also granted a N1million fine and N50,000 as compensation.
But according to Isa’s family, the DSS has refused to comply with the court order.
A copy of the judgement obtained by Daily Trust Saturday stated that the arrest and torture of Isa were a breach of the provisions of sections 34, 35 and 36 of the constitution.
It is in view of the above that Justice Nwite declared the arrest and detention of Isa without charging him to any court of competent jurisdiction as unconstitutional.
A member of Isa’s family told our correspondent that since he was arrested, they had spent a lot of money to secure his release. “We spent N300,000 to secure his release when he was first arrested. Afterward, an operative of the DSS in Kaduna command took N70,000 from us on the pretence that he would help us get him out. This is why we are even afraid of trusting people who are coming to us about the matter.
“The last time the family heard from him was when a message was delivered to us by Red Cross. The letter was said to have been written to by Isa. When I saw the letter, it was really his handwriting; and we all felt happy that he was still alive,’’ Aliyu said.
Isa’s mother further appealed to the DSS to release her son since the court had declared him innocent.
Counsel to Isa, Kamaluddin Umar, said the DSS was fully represented throughout the proceedings in court and was subsequently served the court order to release him. He noted that he had written to their office in Kaduna and Abuja, urging them to comply with the court ruling to release his client. He added that his letters were duly acknowledged.
“All we want from the DSS is to comply with the court order. The court judgement is still valid and subsisting since it has not been set aside by any superior court. More so, there is no appeal. The longest time provided for someone to be detained before being charged to court is 48 hours, which has been violated,” Umar added.
Umar said he had also written to the Senate, seeking the intervention of the National Assembly for the release of his client.
The letter, dated May 5, 2017, reads in part, “We humbly apply to use your good office to intervene in this matter to effect the release of our client, Isa Umar, who has suffered immensely and his educational background crippled due to the unlawful detention and incarceration by a branch of the State Security Services (SSS), Kaduna command, otherwise he would be left with no option but to do the needful by initiating contempt proceedings against the respondents.”
When contacted, the spokesman of the DSS, Peter Afunanya said, “There’s no such thing in the Kaduna State command of the Service.’’