"I don't believe the story and I have nothing to do with it," CSP Tijani Mohammed dismisses SARS involvement in incident leading to Seyi Akinade's suicide

On April 21, Seyi Akinade, a 400l student of Zoology at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, ended a series of tweets where he described the nightmare he encountered with operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as the reason for his eventual suicide. In his final tweet, he said that the reason he was saying goodbye to the world was that no one heard his cry for justice.

Following his death, many Nigerians took to social media with the hashtag #JusticeforAkinade to demand justice on his behalf. Although it was already too late, the Police Complaint Unit responded to Seyi's stepbrother, Toye Salawudeen who tweeted that his brother's suicide was caused by depression from the SARS harassment against hm.

"Your complaint is hereby acknowledged and investigation has been initiated. Your Tracking Number is #CRU479506 , Thank you for contacting NPF-CRU," the Police complaint, @PoliceNG_CRU responded.

But nearly a week later when Neusroom contacted Toye, he said that the police has not done anything regarding the incident.

"I only received a call from a SARS officer who asked me about the issue and I told him what I know," he said.

The SARS officer he mentioned turned out to be the Ogun state Commissioner of Police, CSP Mohammed Tijani. When asked if he has any idea whether the matter is being investigated, he said, "I don't think so because I haven't heard from them since".

When Neusroom contacted the CSP, Mohammed Tijani, he said he does not believe the story, adding that none of the SARS operatives under his command engaged in such operation. He, however, confirmed that he had contacted Seyi's brother, Toye over the incident asking him to come forward with some evidence to prove their case.

"How can SARS operatives here in Abeokuta go to FUNAAB to arrest students and take them to a divisional office? I cannot believe the story. To the best of my knowledge, my SARS Ogun state has nothing to do with that allegation," he dismissed.

But Toye was of the opinion that the task was on the Police to make investigations about the incident to verify whether it was true or false. He also said that given the CSP's submission it was unlikely that any investigation would ever be carried out.

Seyi's friend Temidayo who was among those whisked away by the alleged SARS operatives said he was ready to point out the officers who carried out the operation if he was called to identify them.

"I know their faces. One of them slapped me when he wanted me to hurry up," he said.

While CSP Mohammed insists that the SARS operatives who were responsible for the operation could never be his men; friends and family, including concerned members of the public have continued to demand justice for Seyi.

The deceased had narrated on his Twitter account, @Akinadeoluwa17, how the SARS arrest while he was in the middle of a Forex trade, plunged him into $20,000 debt. One that would later make him commit suicide.

Here's the full message he left on Twitter before his suicide:

"It happened again tonight, I had the same nightmare that's been reoccurring for months now since the incident happened, same faces. SARS officials in their black uniform carrying us away in the dead of the night and I wake up with serious chest pain from fear of what I was about to experience.

"It happened on the 2nd of February 2020 I was in my hostel working on my post-data slides because I had to present the next day. All of a sudden, these SARS officials entered my room. It was around 10 pm at night and I still had my generator on.

"Maybe that was why they came to my room first. They just collected my laptop and phones. My friends were also in my room. We were all told to dress up and come outside. One of my friends was given a dirty slap for practically not dressing up fast enough. 'what did we do?' I kept asking.

"They didn't say anything and they threatened to waste me if I didn't stop asking silly questions. We were handcuffed like armed robbers, all 17 of us. We were squeezed into small cars like goats to the slaughter. From camp Abeokuta, we were taken down to the Ibara police station.

"Immediately we got there, I decided to plead with who was in charge that I had a presentation in school the next day; that they should please let me go early because, at that time, it was 12 in the midnight already. He said I will pay 200k! Ha! For what? I told him to go through my phone.

"I am not a fraudster. I'm a forex trader. He went through my phone and my friend's phone there was nothing incriminating there, except for the bank alerts and those monies were not even mine. I told him they were investors' money. I forgot to mention I opened a trade on my trading platform.

"Before they came to arrest us, I also pleaded with them to give me access to my phone so I can close the trade or something. They thought I wanted to call someone and they slapped me for requesting my phone. The trade kept running till the next day.

"I slept in a cell that night for doing nothing. Police will slap you and beat you, prisoners will beat you when you enter the cell too! I cried till the next morning not because I was sleeping in a cell for doing nothing but because I was on a losing trade with thousands of dollars on the line.

"Also because I was going to miss my project presentation which cannot be repeated. I was paraded like a thief in the morning and they were asking us what we did. With tears in my eyes, I said 'nothing'. They still slapped me and told me to admit I'm a fraudster.

"Without having anything incriminating on my phone! That day, I lost almost $20,000 trading. I missed my presentation at school. They still wanted to collect bail after beating and harassing us for nothing. Since then, I've been in massive debt. I couldn't complete my education.

"And my life has been in shambles. I have receipts for everything I said on here in case anyone thinks I'm lying. Suicide has been the only thought on my mind every day. So, in case, I hurt myself and anyone is curious as to why I did it. This is my story."

His last tweet contained his frustration that no one cared to challenge the injustice and that he was letting go:

"I guess it's goodbye now… No one heard my cry for justice and this has to happen haha… Bye world."

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was formed in 1992 as a special unit of the Nigeria Police Force tasked with fighting against armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism, and other related crimes. But over time, the unit became notorious for engaging in illegal detentions, extortion, and torture. This eventually led to an online campaign to scrap the unit through the #EndSARS movement that began in December 2016.

After increasing pressure on the government, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on August 14, 2018, ordered the immediate "overhaul" of the SARS over reports of human rights violations. The attempt at reforming the group did not yield much result.

However, on January 21, 2019, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu decentralized the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Their operations were now under the command of the Commissioner of Police in each state, who are meant to bear responsibility for SARS misconduct under them.

To date, SARS has been involved in several incidents of abuse that have unfortunately led to the death of innocent Nigerians, including a pregnant woman that was killed by a stray bullet from a SARS operative in August 2019. Seyi's suicide adds to the number.

The post "I don't believe the story and I have nothing to do with it," CSP Tijani Mohammed dismisses SARS involvement in incident leading to Seyi Akinade's suicide appeared first on Neusroom.