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Plateau families raise concern as relatives languish in detention for 7 years

Yusufu Aminu Idegu, Jos It was on the morning of October 27, 2014 that fierce-looking men, armed with rifles, invaded the peaceful community of Anglo-Jos…

Yusufu Aminu Idegu, Jos

It was on the morning of October 27, 2014 that fierce-looking men, armed with rifles, invaded the peaceful community of Anglo-Jos in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State. The men, who were later identified as men of the Department of Security Services (DSS), were on a search for six young men on their wanted list.  

Recalling the event of that morning, Fatimatu Hassan, a 63-yearly-old housewife, said she was within the compound when she heard repeated bangs on the door and rushed to usher in strangers with guns, who identified themselves as men of the DSS.  

“They said they were looking for Aminu Umar, my son. I called him out from his room and they picked him up. They also arrested his wife and his younger brother, Abdul-Ibbas. I requested that they tell me their offences but they ignored me and whisked them away,” she said. 

She said the DSS had returned two days later to search their home, ransacking everywhere, including the ceilings and under the bed but left without anything incriminating. 

Almost eight years later, Fatimatu Hassan said security agents were yet to tell her the offence committed by her son, who was 33- year-old at the time of arrest, and his wife. But they later released her younger son, Abdul-Ibbas a month later.  

“My son Aminu is an Islamic teacher; he had no time to participate in Boko Haram. I have not seen him and his wife since the arrest; my worry is that I don’t know where they are,” she said. 

The events of October 27, 2014 have remained indelible in the minds of residents of Anglo-Jos, who said the DSS operatives had virtually cordoned off the small community as fear enveloped residents.  

Residents claimed they had been held hostage for two hours as security operatives moved from compound to compound, asking questions on the whereabouts of their targets. Every family had surrendered their privacies, allowing security agents to ransack their homes. 

From homes, our correspondent gathered that the DSS had moved to places of work, where they effected two other arrests; and by the time they were done, six suspects were in their net – a young woman and five young men.

Abdulkarimu Wase informed Daily Trust Saturday that since the DSS did not divulge the offences of the suspects, he had led a team to their office in Jos the next day.  

“We went with the intention of taking them on bail, but the DSS simply told us that they were acting on orders from above. They told us that the boys were being investigated for links with Boko Haram, and assured me that they would be released as soon as investigations were over,” he said.

He said that one month later, the DSS invited him and released two of the suspects, saying they had been cleared. 

“The remaining four: three male and one female, were moved to the headquarters in Abuja and have been held since then. They were not charged to court and they have not been released,” he said.

Benjamin Ataguba is the father of Bilyaminu Husseini Attaguba, who is among the four suspects still in detention. Ataguba explained that when Bilyaminu’s detention became prolonged, he and others had taken the service of a lawyer to negotiate their bail but found that the DSS had moved them to their headquarters in Abuja.  

“We still followed up and went to Abuja, but we were told that they would soon arraign the suspects. It is now almost eight years and they have not arraigned them. Worse still, we are not allowed access to them,” he said. 

Our correspondent gathered that Bilyaminu Husseini Attaguba was on duty as a casual worker with Nasco Foods when security agents came for him. At the time of his arrest, he left a four-month pregnant wife. His 37-year-old wife, Amina Husseini, has since delivered a son, who is almost seven years old and has never seen his father. 

“I have two children now that have not seen their father for seven years, even though he is alive. Life has been very hard; we are barely surviving,” she said.

Describing her husband as a fashion designer and hardworking man, she said, “I want to beg President Muhammadu Buhari to tell the DSS to release my husband. I want my two children to enjoy the comfort of their father. I have waited for seven years without seeing my husband. He is innocent of the allegations. He has nothing to do with Boko Haram.”

During a visit to the families of the suspects, Daily Trust Saturday came in contact with Zuwaira Abubakar, whose son, Ibrahim Yau, was among those arrested. She said he was 35 years old during the raid and preparing for his marriage when he was arrested seven years ago. 

“The girl he intended to marry has been married off to another man and now has two children, while my son is languishing in detention for no offence,” she said.  

Zuwaira explained that Yau was a truck driver with Coca-Cola plant in Jos and was preparing to travel. He had been informed on that day that his truck was loaded and ready for transport, and just when he was about to leave the factory, security agents encircled the truck and picked him up.  

“As we speak, I don’t know his whereabouts. The last time I heard of my son was three years ago when a human rights group came to interview us and promised to secure their bail. Since then, nothing has happened. 

Mariam Daikwo, a 67-year-old woman and mother of Husseini Daikwo said the suspect is her third child and the most peaceful and respectful among the children. She said it had been a nightmare since the incident. 

Similarly, a community leader, Alhaji Wase, said that because of his determination to get the suspects released, the DSS had threatened to arrest him if he persistently visited their office. 

“So, I will stop going there. As a layman I can’t say if the allegations against the boys are true or not, but what kind of investigation are the DSS doing for almost eight years? I thought they would end their investigation in three months, but it is now seven years and there’s no information about them. 

“To the best of my knowledge, these boys were not idle or lazy; they were very committed to their work.  

“Let the court pronounce their offence, if not, they should release them without delay,” he said.