The family of Tariyuwa Kingsley, a 33-year-old man, arrested by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force in Port Harcourt, on January 5 2020, has lamented his disappearance seven months after his arrest. The family vowed to sue the police if it is true that he is dead.
Tariuwa, a truck driver with the Nigeria Ports Authority Port Harcourt, was arrested around 8 pm on January 5. SARS operatives arrested Kingsley at a night club in Port Harcourt, known as Boss Lounge, along with two other persons. The SARS officers were allegedly cleared by a mobile police officer identified as Elisha Hassan who was in charge of security at the lounge on the day the missing driver was arrested.
Kingsley’s brother, Ezekiel, said he feared that his brother was murdered shortly after his arrest. “If that is the last thing I can do in this life, then I think my reason for coming to earth has been fulfilled,” Ezekiel said, vowing to sue anyone culpable if his brother’s death is true. Francis Nwankwo, the SARS officer who arrested Kingsley, reportedly had a conversation in Pidgin-English with Elisha Hassan, the mobile police officer on duty at the nightclub.
The conversation makes Ezekiel think his brother may have been killed. “Forget them!!! Dem Kingsley’s siblings don come our station today. Commander tell them say no be we arrest the boys. In fact, we don travel those boys, shae u understand, we don clear them, nowhere e reach, nothing go happen,” Nwankwo said during a phone call with Hassan.
Ezekiel said Nwankwo’s slang, ‘travel those boys,’ probably meant the three victims had been murdered. Hassan had reportedly made the call to Nwankwo, when Kingsley’s relatives came to the lounge to receive an account of what happened, after several fruitless searches for their son in police stations across Port Harcourt.
“In their terms, when they say they ‘travel’ someone, it means ‘killed’. Sometimes, they say these things. Maybe they’ve not done it, or they intend to,” Ezekiel said. The family reported the case to the Police Complaint Response Unit in Abuja. Ezekiel said investigators from the complaint bureau were not told that Kingsley had not been allowed to meet with his family. When the CRU officials heard this, Ezekiel said Jovinus Iwuh, SARS commander in Rivers State, was instructed to explain why Kingsley had not been given the opportunity to meet his family.
“They –CRU– put a call through to the SARS commander in Port Harcourt. He told them our brother was in their custody, and claimed that they had never denied us the opportunity of seeing him. “This is the same person that was telling us there is nobody like that (Tariuwa Kingsley) in their custody,” he added. Ezekiel also complained of laxity on the part of the CRU officials over the investigation.
He said the search for their brother had affected the family. “Kingsley’s son was five months old when his father was arrested. He would be one year old on July 31,” Ezekiel says. “I am the one feeding the boy and his mother. I am taking care of my parents, too; they are aged,” he lamented.
SaharaReporters reached out to Jovinus Iwuh, the SARS commander in Rivers State. “Talk to the Police PRO,” he barked, “I don’t speak to journalists. “SaharaReporters reached out to Nnamdi Omoni, police spokesperson in Rivers State. Omoni said he had no idea of the case and had never been briefed on the matter by Mr Iwuh.
When SaharaReporters called Mr Iwuh again to confront him with the information, he said, “My friend! I don’t know you.” “Go to the PRO’s office, maybe he’s not willing to talk to you on the phone. “When SaharaReporters reached out to one of the CRU agents handling Mr Kingsley’s disappearance case, he directed our reporter to use official complaint lines. “Are you the complainant? If you are not, then let the complainant ask,” a female told our reporter when he called the number.