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DSS abducted my husband, brother, labelled them terrorists – Kogi woman

A 27-year-old graduate of the Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic, Bauchi State, Mrs Aishat Shafiu-Oyiza, tells GODFREY GEORGE how operatives of the Department of State Services stormed her home on October 24, 2022, abducted her husband, Shafiu, and her younger brother, Yusuf Abdulrahman, who is a Business Management student of the Nasarawa State University

What really led to your husband’s arrest by operatives of the Department of State Services as you alleged?

My husband was a politician and a member of the All Progressives Congress. He used to work for the party during elections. He was a strong ally of the incumbent governor of Kogi State before the problem started. He had even been arrested before and almost lost his life because of the party. At that time, he was framed by some people in opposition that he was in possession of firearms. We were not married then, but I knew that he was innocent. I know him. He is not someone who can do all the things he was accused of. In 2019, when the Kogi State governor was running for re-election, he requested that he and my husband worked together. They both agreed. In fact, I learnt that he handed my husband over to the Chief of Staff. My husband is a person who moves crowds. People love him a lot. From then, he was with the governor and the Chief of Staff. There is a widely circulated voice note by the Chief of Staff stating that the governor handed my husband over to him. So, he (Shafiu) has been with them.

What happened next?

 Consequently, early this year, after the Sallah (celebration), he (Shafiu) started a campaign against electoral violence and thuggery in Ebira land. He even founded a group with that objective. This got some people angry. He invited a lot of people, including the governor’s Chief of Staff, but none of them accepted the invitation to attend despite their closeness. It was obvious that they were not happy with the development. At that programme, there was a book launch that detailed over 250 young people who had been killed in electoral violence. He kept asking, ‘What have these people gained from the politicians they fought for even in death?’

 How did that affect his relationship with the state government?

That was the beginning of the end of his relationship with the state government. It was not long after the project that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party reached out to him to join the party and he defected to the PDP. He claimed that he had been receiving threats from the Kogi State Government. He sent the voice note to his family and they are aware. Since he did not live in Kogi State, there was very little they could do. That was why they sent the DSS to go to his house in Lugbe, Abuja, and abduct him.

 When did this happen and how was he taken away?

 It happened on October 24, 2022. I was at home with him. He didn’t go anywhere that day; we spent a lot of time together, especially because I was pregnant. Later in the day, around 2pm or 3pm, he got a call from his boss at his place of work. So, he had his bath and left for work. It was not even up to 10 minutes after he left that we got a call that some men had barricaded the estate, claiming to be from the DSS.

Did they identify themselves?

 They had no means of identification and they were lurking around. The men broke his side mirror and forced their way into his car after removing the number plate, and drove him back into his estate and to our home. They ransacked everywhere, they beat us up mercilessly. I was two months and 28 days pregnant when this thing happened, but they beat the pregnancy out of me. My unborn baby could not survive. My mother was there too and she was not feeling well. My younger brother, Yusuf Abdulrahman, a 21-year-old student of Business Management at the Nasarawa State University, was also beaten and abducted by the officers, who refused to tell us what their offences were. When his brother came, he couldn’t even look at us. We were battered beyond recognition.

 How did you know that the invaders were from the DSS?

When he asked the estate officials, they said the DSS operatives had been there all day and gained entry by force. Those men, who attacked and abducted my husband, were more than 30 in number. They came with Prado sports utility vehicles and many Hilux vans and a Sienna vehicle. When we went out after the abduction, we heard that two terrorists had been arrested with heavy weapons in the estate.

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 You claimed that some money was taken from you during the raid. How much?

Yes, they took our N350,000. They took our phones. They also took a purse that contained about N5,000, a national identity card, two ATM cards and a voter card. They also took our clipper. They searched everywhere and turned everywhere upside down.

 Did you go in search of your husband at the DSS facility?

The estate chairman in the area said he called the divisional police officer at Trade Mall Estate, Lugbe, Abuja, who said she was aware of the operation in the estate. But, I was shocked that when I went to meet her, she denied ever saying so even though there was evidence. She said she only received a ‘CP (Commissioner of Police) briefing’ and on her way there, she got to know that there was an operation going on in the estate, which she was meant to oversee as the DPO. She then told us to stop using the word abduct but arrest. But, we refused. This is because there were no identity cards on the men and no search warrant. They just got in and carried two men and beat up their family members.

The DPO told us that she had no business with the operation and that we should visit the DSS, who carried out the operation. That was when we even knew it was the DSS that carried out the operation. The DSS spokesman, after a few days, released a statement that two terrorist brothers were arrested from the estate, but debunked the claims that explosives were found with them, which was the rumour that circulated all over Abuja earlier.

 Have you been to the DSS Headquarters to enquire about him?

 Some family members arranged for a lawyer, Mr Abu Muazu, who went to the DSS facility on November 3, 2022. When he came back, he told us that the DSS said they would call for Shafiu and the other young man’s bail in a few days. We have been waiting ever since and nothing has been done. On November 7, 2022, some of the family members followed the lawyer to the DSS facility as a follow-up but they were refused entry on mentioning my husband’s name. They chased them away. We had to go to the DSS headquarters with another lawyer and the lady we met told us to write to the director-general of the DSS, which we did. Up till now (December 1, 2022), we have neither received any call nor any invitation from the DSS.

 Have you seen your husband or brother ever since?

 I haven’t set my eyes on my husband since October 24, when he was abducted. It is 38 days today (December 1, 2022). I haven’t seen my husband or my younger brother. I am supposed to have gone for my national youth service programme, but I haven’t been able to do it.

 Have your husband and brother been taken to court?

 They have not been taken to court. What is their offence? They haven’t told us. They said they were the ones who attacked Owo, Ondo State. My husband is from Kogi. He was in Abuja when the attack happened. So, I don’t even know what they are saying. They just want to pin a bad name on it (Owo attack) before they kill him. I have lost a lot of things already. I lost a pregnancy and I cannot even go for national service. A lot has been taken away from me. They should just bring him out for me to see. They should release my brother. He is only 21 years old. He has not done anything. I don’t know why the authorities are doing this to me.

My children are asking for their father. One is six years old; the other is three. They are our foster children. The one whose pregnancy I lost would have been our first biological child. But, the Nigerian system has taken that child away from us. They should release my husband. I am not even sure if he is alive or dead. They should release my husband and my brother to me.

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