The family of a slain businessman, Hussaini Usman, whose killing was linked to his wife and son, has accused the police of shielding one of the murder suspects from trial.
Aliyu Usman, a son of the murdered businessman, on behalf of the family, sent a petition dated 5 September to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, calling for his intervention to ensure that his stepmother and step-brother are successfully prosecuted.
One of the suspects, Uwani Usman, was the wife of the deceased businessman, who was allegedly strangled at his Abuja residence in 2018.
She was charged alongside her son, Huzaifa Usman, over the murder of her husband.
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The police hunted her for nearly four years until last June when they were able to arrest her in Abuja. They later released her on bail on health grounds.
While Huzaifa has been arraigned in court by the police and subsequently remanded in prison, his mother, Mrs Usman, has yet to take her plea.
In his petition to the IGP, Aliyu alleged that the police have refused to produce the woman in court to face her charges.
He expressed fear that the case may be struck out if the police, again, defy the last warning issued by the trial judge by not producing Mrs Usman in court at the hearing scheduled for Monday (tomorrow).
“It is with a heavy heart and bleeding soul that I …bring to your knowledge the calculated, mischievous ploy of the Homicide Unit, Abuja, to circumvent justice and frustrate the prosecution of Uwani Usman,” Aliyu’s petition read in part.
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Killing of deceased
He narrated how his father was “gruesomely killed at his residence at Adisa Estate (Abuja) on 28 October 2018.”
“The deceased accompanied by his son, Huzaifa Usman (1st defendant), prepared to embark on early morning prayer, thereupon he was strangled to death,” Aliyu said in the petition.
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He said, “available evidence in the course of investigation revealed the son and mother (Huzaifa and Uwani), who were the only people last seen and close to the deceased, alleged that the deceased (businessman) was unlawfully killed by unknown persons surreptitiously present in the compound prior to the act.”
But the petitioner said, “overwhelming evidence conducted by the police proves otherwise with the duo mother and son indicted.”
Huzaifa, 25, has denied the charge at his arraignment in court.
AGF’s legal advice
A letter of legal advice from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) indicated there is a prima facie case against the duo — Mrs Usman and Huzaifa.
Earlier on 13 May, the AGF, through the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), Mohammed Abubakar, sent a letter to the Inspector-General of Police asking the police to immediately arrest and prosecute the suspects.
“The office of the Attorney General of the Federation having reviewed the case file is of the view that the duo of Musa Ndanusa and Adamu Umar be used as prosecution witnesses.
“In view of the above, I am further directed to inform your office to continue with the prosecution of the case,” the letter read.
It added: “The office of the Attorney General of the Federation having reviewed the case file is of the view that the duo of Musa Ndanusa and Adamu Umar be used as prosecution witnesses.
“In view of the above, I am further directed to inform your office to continue with the prosecution of the case.”
Hurdles to trial
Despite the AGF’s legal advice and the charging of the two suspects in court, Aliyu said in his petition to the IGP that high-ranking police officers and politicians have made it impossible for Mrs Usman to be arraigned for the pending criminal charge.
When the case came up on 16 June before Angela Otaluka of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court at Apo, the police failed to produce Mrs Uwani, in disobedience to the judge’s earlier order.
Surprised by the conduct of the police, the judge wondered, “how can one person overpower the entire Federal Republic of Nigeria?”
“I am giving you the last chance in this matter to produce the defendant for her to take her plea,” the angered judge said before adjourning the suit until September 26, 2022.
Aliyu accused the commissioner of police in charge of the legal department, “Abbas Ochegwu, of consistently withholding the case file from the prosecutor (Godwin Ijioma),” adding, “this has frustrated the prosecution of the case.”
“The Homicide Unit, Abuja, threw caution to the wind by accepting as a surety, Umaru Dahiru, the first surety for the 2nd defendant earlier before she jumped bail,” the petitioner added.
He said a principal witness in the case was violently attacked to eliminate evidence.
Meanwhile, phone calls and text messages sent to the police spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, seeking his comment over allegations levelled against the police and their officers were not responded to as of the time of filing this report.
As the trial is scheduled to come up on Monday, Aliyu expressed fear in his petition that the case may be struck out if the police fail to bring Mrs Usman before the court for arraignment.
He appealed to the “Inspector-General of Police to instruct the Homicide Unit to inform the surety (Mr Dahiru) to produce the 2nd defendant (Uwani Usman) in court.”
Mr Usman urged the IGP to “order superior police officers interfering with the case to desist from doing so.”
He begged the IGP to provide security for witnesses in the suit.
“… should the court succeed in striking out the case on 26 September 2022, due to the failure of the commissioner of police homicide, to produce the 2nd defendant before the court, it will be a disservice and injustice to the nominal complaint and Nigeria,” the petition read.
In response to Mr Usman’s petition, the IGP in a memo dated 7 September, directed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja, to “look into” the complaint.
“I forward herewith a copy of a letter dated September 5, 2022, received from Aliyu Hussaini Usman,” a copy of the memo seen by this reporter said.
“The Inspector-General of Police directs that you look into this and furnish a comment.”
It will be recalled that the case first came up before Samira Bature, a judge of the FCT High Court, where Huzaifa, 25, was first arraigned for murder.
He pleaded not guilty and was remanded at Kuje prison in Abuja.
Huzaifa has been in detention and was brought to court on 16 June.
Daily Trust reported that Mr Usman’s murder was initially linked to an armed robbery incident.
Huzaifa was said to have told people that after he discovered his father had been killed and the assailants had left, he dragged the corpse to the sitting room from the compound and he went to call his mother before they went to the mosque to call for assistance.
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