THE invitation letters sent to Busola and Timi Dakolo on Saturday by the police contain allegations that cannot be traced to Nigeria’s criminal law and were signed by a police unit that was dissolved last year for lack of professionalism, The ICIR can report.
The police already confirmed inviting the couple and explained that their goal is to get information concerning complaints brought before them regarding the “highly publicised case involving” Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo.
The two invitation letters, which were signed by Kolo Yusuf, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DSP) and head of the IGP Special Tactical Squad, instructed the couple to report to one DSP Ibrahim Agu for fact-finding on July 23.
The letters had explained that the police were “investigating a case of criminal conspiracy, falsehood, mischief, and threat to life that your name was mentioned [in].”
Meanwhile, a press statement shared a day later said the invitations were “sequel to an on-going police investigation touching on the wider and highly publicized case involving Busola Dakolo, Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo and others.”
“It is important however to note that a Police Invitation Letter is not synonymous with a Warrant of Arrest, and must not be construed to be one,” it added.
“Rather, it is a polite investigative tool used in eliciting information voluntarily from parties to aid police investigations.”
The release also urged members of the public to see the invitation “as a legitimate act in line with the constitutional mandate of the police, which among other things include the investigation of all complaints brought before it”.
“The Inspector-General of Police, IGP MA Adamu NPM, mni has appealed for calm and is reassuring Nigerians that the Police Force under his watch will remain professional, impartial and unreservedly committed to the pursuit of justice in this case and all other cases before it,” it concluded.
But, only recently, the unit in charge of the invitation and interrogation of the Dakolos was found to be anything but professional.
Tactical Squad was dissolved in 2018
The IGP’s Special Tactical Squad from where the invitation letters originated, The ICIR observed, was dissolved less than a year ago for unprofessional conduct.
The unit was launched in 2017 by former IGP Ibrahim Idris.
In September, Idris ordered for the immediate redeployment of the squad’s operatives to other departments and formations, following an unauthorised raid by the officers of the homes of elder statesman, Edwin Clark.
Kolo Yusuf, who signed the letters to the Dakolo family, was also heading the squad at the time and has been described as a “no-nonsense combatant”.
A statement released by the former Police PRO, Jimoh Moshood, said senior officers of the unit were found to have conspired in the “unauthorised, illegal and unprofessional misconduct in the search of Clark’s residence in Asokoro” and were facing strict disciplinary measures.
“Tactical operations and statutory core police duties that the dissolved Special Tactical Squad (STS) were charged with are now collapsed and will be carried out by other operational, investigative and response units,” Moshood had informed the press.
It is not clear if the new IGP Mohammed Adamu, who was appointed in January, has officially reversed that decision.
No crime of falsehood, mischief
A look through Nigeria’s Criminal Code Act shows there are no crimes known to the statute that are called “falsehood” or “mischief”, as stated by the invitation letters.
What the code penalises is the crime of defamation which involves expressing false claims that are likely to “injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hatred, contempt, or ridicule”.
But the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), in 2014, ruled that imprisonment for criminal defamation violates the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory.
Section 125 of the Criminal Code, however, provides for the offence of “conspiracy to bring false accusation”, that is charging or causing a person to be charged with an offence despite knowing them to be innocent.
The law has also criminalised the writing of death threats to others and states that those found guilty may be jailed for up to seven years.
Shortly after receiving the letters, Timi Dakolo alleged that policemen who delivered them intimidated his family and forced their way into his home.
He also said the police have been bribed to delay summons and have their case against Fatoyinbo transferred to Abuja.
“Our lawyers had told us to get ready for this letter. We have long been ready for your intimidation and dirtiness. For your Ilorin methods and underhand tactics,” he wrote.
“A pastor? bribing investigating officials to delay summons? Paying dirty bloggers to fabricate things that cover the truth, going to the IG’s (Inspector-General of Police) people under dark to force this case to be posted to Abuja.
“Now this: A false investigation in Abuja when our petition filed since June has not been answered and no invitation has been made to the accused in a rape case? Not one movement towards justice? Rubbishing the legal and criminal system? And sending a busload of policemen and shady men lying in wait to intimidate my wife and children today (Saturday), forcing their way into my home? Is that how real policemen deliver a letter?”
In June, Busola, a photographer and Dakolo’s wife, accused Fatoyinbo, Senior Pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), of raping her on two occasions when she was underage.
•Source: International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).