It happened on Thursday December 6, 2012 around 10:34pm in Gwale, in Kano. As I walked along Aminu Kano Way, I heard someone call out my name. It was my friend, Shamsu, standing among four other guys near a shop, which was closed. He left them and joined me at the sidewalk. A couple of minute later, we saw five men carrying guns shouting at us. They rounded us up, including the guys standing aside. They began searching us. I identified myself as a journalist and my friend a Level 200 student at Bayero University, Kano. The man who appeared to be of the team leader called Abbas said that if they searched us and found nothing criminal, we would go. I presented several I'd cards, including NYSC Foundation ID card, my school ID card which I've not yet submitted for my transcript; my press ID card, my Association of Nigerian Authors ID card and my Kano English Club ID card. One of the policemen pointed out a guy called Mubarak and excluded him from us and told to go home. Thereafter, I was roughed up and shoved into the back seat of a truck. I heard the team leader swear that I would sleep in the cell. Why, I was not told; may be it was because I told him I was a journalist.
They kept the rest of us behind the counter; I called people I could reach on phone to come to our aid, but their phones were unavailable. I then twitted and facebooked (before they took away our phones). A friend and two guys whose voices I couldn't recognise were at the station to bail me. He met the police man and even promised to give him money to release me. But he wanted more than my friend had on him; suddenly, he disappeared, but not before ordering his colleague to ensure that we were not released.
We were thrown into the cell, 22 of us. No food, no water, nothing but pieces of faeces combined with stale odour of urine that assailed the nostrils, and mosquitoes and biting insects. It was so dark we couldn't see our palms. I couldn't sleep in that inhumane condition. I couldn't believe that we made it to the next day.
In the morning, I was called out to sweep the rooms; I declined, noting it was not my duty. Some friends came to bail me. But the police on duty said they could do nothing until the DPO returned by 11:00a.m. The DPO eventually came and we were asked out of the cells and to line up as he called our names one after the other. All, except me, would be taken to court. I presented my ID cards and told him how it happened. I noticed the shock in his face. He heaped blames on the arresting police officer, and pledged to look into it.
Many people in the cell told me how they were arrested. Some were sitting in their shops; others were merely enjoying their dinner. Others walking or standing in their areas; like me, who was few metres away from home.
Huzaifa Sani Ilyas
Published on Daily Trust Newspaper
Monday, December 10, 2012
Also, published on Blueprint Newspaper
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN