His travails began some 40 days ago in calabar in the early hours of 17th June, 2016 at about 1am, a time when ordinary men succumb to the call of nature of slumbering. Some heavily armed men numbering about ten decked in black uniform with hood drawn over their faces to conceal their identities broke into his house where he lives with his wife and three very young children aged between 2 and 5. They dragged him from his bed, stripped the wife naked for God- knows-reason, and handcuffed him in the presence of the wife and the young children.
For a grueling 45 minutes, they virtually turned the house upside down as they searched every nook and cranny apparently in search of incriminating objects. When they could not find any, the men who introduced themselves as operatives of the Department of State Security elected to literarily drag him from the house, impounded his entire phones to put him in comunicado before bundling him into a waiting vehicle and took him to an unknown destination.
This is the emotion story of Mrs. Alaere Selky Torughedi, the wife of Selki kile Torughedi, an ex militant who has been languishing in the dungeon of the Department of State Security for allegedly being a member of rampaging Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group that has claimed responsibility for the bombings of several oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta region in recent time.
No sooner was he arrested from his calabar residence than he was transferred to Abuja where the DSS gleefully informed the nation that it has succeeded in arresting one of the arrowheads of the militant group who have been sabotaging the economy of the country through their nefarious activities.
Besides being labeled a key figure in the group, the DSS also told the nation that he is a close associate of the wanted former militant commander, Government Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo and that it has an intelligent report that Selki Torughedi was planning to kill one MB Yahaya, a serving Army officer on special duty in the troubled region.
The news of the arrest of Selky Torughedi was cheering to many Nigerians who felt that the special military operation ordered by president, Mohamodu Buhari to flush out the so called unrepentant militants was making headway.
However, in what looks like a twist of fortune, a couple of days after the heartwarming story of the exploits of the security operatives in ridding the nation of the creeping menace of the militants, the Niger Delta Avengers in an online broadcast which went virile, denied in unequivocal format that the man in the custody of the DSS, Selky Torughedi was their member. Rather they branded him a mole who the Security agency was trying to use as a decoy to trap them.
Confusion, confusion! Who is right and who is abridging the truth? Since the dual contradictory statements on the ownership of Selky Torughedi, mum has been the word from the camps of the feuding parties. And so the man Torughedi remains a pitiable orphan who could be likened in the local parlance to an albino who is neither a white man, nor a black man, going by the color of his skin.
The situation of Selky Torughedi has become a conundrum of sorts? Is he actually a member of the Niger Delta Avengers, or is he a red herring the government is spinning to entrap the kingpins of the organization? Why would a group deny its member who is caught in the line of an avowed operation? Is there an antecedent of this nature we can readily draw inference from? These are some of the puzzles discerning minds who have been following the DSS\Torughedi matter have been confronted with.
According to Alaere, the wife of the detained accused, her husband is not a member of the Niger Delta Avengers and neither is he a close associate of Tompolo as its been peddled by the DSS, rather she said her husband has been involved in helping the Bayelsa state government in fighting sea pirates and kidnapping in Southern Ijaw local government area.
”if he is actually a member of the Niger Delta Avengers, they will never deny him as they have done. There would have been an oath of We stand together, we fall together which is the creed of the militants. Besides it is a known fact that the avengers do not live in the city because they know they are being hunted.”Mrs. Torughedi informed.
Torughedi Selky also known as the Young shall grow, according to the wife, is the only ex militant the late president Musa Yar Adua called a freedom fighter because of his humanitarian gesture which made him to organize a monthly environmental sanitation in his community where he paid every woman in need in Azuzuama a monthly salary, opened a nursery and primary school where tuition and school uniform were free and committed a substantial part of his income to the provision of welfare for his community.
Continuing the mother of three who is almost an emotional wreck , said since her husband’s arrests about 40 days ago, he has been denied access to his lawyer, his family members, and neither has he been charged to court for the world to know whether he is still alive or dead.
She said her husband’s lawyer has written an application to be granted access to see him but the DSS turned it down and every effort to have an interview with him as a basic fundamental human right and freedom under any democratic climate has been rebuffed by the security agency.
Apparently piqued by the seeming breech of the rights of the detainee of access to legal representation under the stipulated time legally allowed for detention without trial, counsel to the accused, Emeka Uchegbulam Esq has filed a suit at the Federal High court in Abuja against the Director General, DSS for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights pursuant to section 46 sub section 3 of the 1999 constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Uchegbulam is asking that a declaration be made to the effect that the arrest and detention of Torughedi since June 17th without trial or access to legal representation is illegal, unlawful oppressive and a violation of the fundamental rights of his client.
Emeka Uchegbulam would also want the court to give an order compelling the Department of state security to immediately release Torughedi if they cannot charge him to court for want of evidence that could engender prosecution.
Several attempts through telephone calls, texts messages and personal visits to the DSS headquarters in Aso Drive, Abuja to have their views on the condition of Torughedi and what is being done to charge him court, met a stone wall. Not even any of the texts was honored with a reply.
It would be recalled that the federal government has had a running battle with the new militia group in the Niger Delta that calls itself the Niger Delta Avenger. For several months on, the group has engaged in the vandalisation of oil and gas pipelines including bombings of major installations of the oil companies operating in the region thereby impacting negatively on the productive capacity of the country and by extension, the economy of the nation.
Despite concerted pleas by well meaning Nigerians including the president himself to the group to sheathe their swords and come to the table for discussion with a view to solving their grievances which have been somewhat wooly, they have remained recalcitrant, electing to continually blow up oil installations virtually every other day.