- People tortured to own up crime – eyewitness
- ICPC gives tips to trap Police culprits
As part of efforts to please the Inspector-General of Police, IG, Ibrahim Idris with revenue targets, Nigeria Police have devised new schemes to blackmail citizens, extorting millions from their victims.
Taking a massive leap from the level of collecting bribes from commercial drivers, Police officers now smartly deploy strategies to trap innocent citizens in order to extract colossal sums as bribe from them.
Speaking to MMS Plus newspaper, one of the victims of Police excesses narrated his ordeal which occurred at Ajangbadi Police Station under Ilemba-Hausa Division, Lagos Zone 2.
He said; “I was in my house on Sunday morning when I heard our dogs begin to bark. It was around 6:30am and I came out putting on a short and a singlet. The Police came in saying that my attention was needed at the Ajangbadi Police Station. I wore a shirt and joined them in a van were I saw a guy I recognized. At the police station I was thrown into the cell with the officers explaining that they found a guy with a gun and the guy pointed them to me. I know most of the tough guys in the neighbourhood because I grew up here. Some of these touts are people I grew up with over two decades ago. Some of us played football and other games together as kids before they turned out to be criminals. I asked the Police if the guy had pointed me as the person who gave him the gun or if I was part of his gang or any gang at all but they were disinterested. The next development was that they asked me to bring N1million so that they could settle the matter. At this point I knew the Police officers were bent on extorting me but I made up my mind not to give them a dime.”
According to the witness, the young man who was allegedly caught by the Police in possession of a gun ‘Dammy’ said the Police had asked him to mention anybody that had money so that they could implicate the person and give him a soft landing.
However, the Police officers changed the story as soon as they arrested the other victim in anticipation that they could lure him into releasing N1million bribe.
“I slept at that station for two days before I was transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, located in Ikeja Lagos. I saw people being tortured to say things they didn’t do at the Ajangbadi Police station. Although, I wasn’t touched at Ajangbadi but I have heard stories of how innocent people also admit to things they didn’t do after merciless beating from SARS but I prayed to God and I was sure my case was going to be different. I later found out the same Police officers who brought me into this matter for their selfish reasons were the ones who gave my siblings contacts to call at SARS to get me out of the matter. After I was interrogated at SARS, I told them the same story I narrated at the initial Police station and the following day one of the officers came and said I am free to go. The same officers that came to arrest me and alleged that I was a criminal also came to plead with me to forgive them but I have no grudge against them. I just wonder how many people would have fallen victim of such circumstance and why the Police which ought to protect the citizens have turned around to witch-hunt them. Why should they demand N1million from me for an issue that I know nothing about, if it wasn’t a strategy all along? How does the N1million solve the case if one is actually a criminal?” he said.
Speaking on the haphazard and unhygienic state of the police cell at Ajangbadi, he said; “The police cell ought to be a place where people get re-oriented about life but what I witnessed at Ajangbadi Police cell can make anyone become hardened. They police officers beat up suspects until they own up crimes they never committed. There was no light, no water, the place was stinking and one could contact disease in such environment.”
When contacted to react to this illicit deal under his division, the District Police Officer (DPO) at Ajangbadi Police Station initially refused to comment citing that the issue had been transferred to SARS. However, when he was told that some of his officers demanded N1million bribe to dismiss the issue, he claimed to be unable to hear our correspondent during the phone conversation and promised to call back, but he didn’t and all efforts to reach him on 08035993326 again were futile.
In another incident also at Ajangbadi Police Station, police officers uploaded a car on social media for sale and apprehended an individual who came to see the car, accusing him of specializing in buying stolen cars and demanded that the innocent victim disclose details of stolen car dealers.
MMS Plus also reached the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti who frowned at the situation especially as it was an allegation against police officers; however he maintained that the Police would investigate the situation.
“I cannot pass comments on this issue because it has not been investigated. We must be able to hear from both parties. This is a criminal allegation against the police but the petition must be brought up through due process. If these people are making an allegation against the police, they should be able to come up with their petition. Direct them to the office of the Lagos PRO”, he said.
On her part, the Director, Public Enlightenment at the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa stressed that the appropriate agency to resort to during such cases of extortion by police officers was the ICPC.
According to her, it was risky to report such acts of criminality to senior police officers or the police complaints units because the information could be leaked and the individual’s live put in danger.
“You don’t have to report such case to the police. It is too risky to do so. You bring the matter to ICPC and you don’t have to circulate the information that you’re coming to ICPC because it has to be as discreet as possible. We would advise that you negotiate with the police officers to reduce the fee so they don’t have to suspect but there must be proof”
“At ICPC, we have to work with documents or proof that can be tracked. You can engage such officers in a phone conversation that should be recorded or choose to make payment via transfer or bank payment that can be tracked. If it is a case of exchanging cash it is difficult to have proof” she said.
She advised such victims in Lagos to visit ICPC office off Awolowo way in Ikoyi where the ICPC personnel would assist them with various techniques to catch the fraudulent police officers.
In another development, despite the Federal Government’s efforts to enhance the ease of doing business at the Nigerian Ports, fraudulent Police officers have converted the nation’s foremost port Apapa to a cash cow as Policemen demand between N7,000- N10,000 per truck daily for truckers to enter and exit the Lagos ports.
Also reacting to this development, the ICPC spokesperson said, “We have heard about these complaints in the port sector but I don’t know the status but I know that we have come across this at some point”.
“Whether it came to us in an actionable manner which would enable us do a follow-up is what I can’t tell at the moment. I would find out and ensure we do something in that regard” she assured.
Revealing some strategies deployed by the Police IG, Ibrahim Idris, Ondo State Police PRO, Mr. Femi Joseph told MMS Plus that the IG recently resuscitated several mechanisms the checkmate crooked police officers.
“We have the IG monitoring unit. These are people saddled with the responsibility of scrutinizing the activities of officers. We also have the police complaints unit at the Force headquarters and AIG Monitoring units who deal with these issues within the various zones. At the command level, we have the OC Monitoring Unit for the same issue within every command. The IG was the one that directed that these outfits be created to deal with these monsters at various levels in the force”, he said.
According to the Ondo Police spokesman, as part of efforts to address these issues the Police IG also resuscitated the Public Complaint Bureau which had been moribund. He added that the IG also supports the idea of community policing because the police officers in the country cannot see all the crimes in the society but people see them.
All efforts by our correspondents to get the Police PRO, CSP Jimoh Moshood and his Deputy, SP Adeniran Aremu were futile until press time.
By Kenneth Jukpor
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