A civil/human rights organisation, the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice has raised an alarm, saying men of the Ogun State Command of the Nigeria Police Force attached to Sango Area Command of the state have engaged in extorting and illegally arresting and unlawful detention of innocent citizens in their area of operations.
In a statement issued on Saturday by the Executive Chairman of the CHRSJ, Comrade Adeniyi, Alimi Sulaiman, the group warned that men of the force attached to the Sango Area Command have habitually arrested, detained and extort money amounting to the sum of N100, 000 each from the people of the area who have been detained but later freed by them when the money is paid to them.
According to Sulaiman, the CHRSJ has been inundated on daily basis with news of innocent people who are daily arrested by these police officers based on spurious or cooked up allegations but who are later released after their families would have parted with the sum of N100, 000 before they regain their freedom.
He stated that the latest victim is a petty trader, Mr. Joshua Chibogwu, a resident of 12, Unity Avenue, Oke-Oko Area, Ijeja, Ogun State who have been languishing in police cell for some days after having been picked up by the operatives of the police force while on his way home.
“The information at our disposal suggests that the men of the force rely on those who they use for intelligence gathering but who later work hand in hand with the policemen to target innocent people to be extorted and detain illegally after they (the informants and the police) have cooked up their allegations which in most cases are spurious.” Sulaiman said.
On the case of Chibogwu, he stated that he is a victim of malicious intrigue by the informant named Ganiyu (surname unknown) whose phone number 09094707115 have been traced as the person who engineered and carried out the arrest, detention of Chibogwu after the detainee refused to part with some money as requested by Ganiyu and his police accomplices.
“Our sources in the area told our men on ground that Chibogwu’s travail began after he refused to pay Ganiyu and his police friends the money they demanded him to pay them. They plotted several schemes to get him arrested with the believe that he would eventually pay the demanded money when detainee refused, he was promptly arrested by the police,” the rights activist said.
Sulaiman stated that Ganiyu initially plotted to have the divisional police officer (DPO) in charge of Ayinla Police Station located along Agbado Crossing Area of Ogun State to be part of the scheme to have Chibogwu arrested and detained illegally but the officer in charge would not be part of the fraudulent scheme.
“Sensing that the officer in Agbado Crossing was resolute in his opposition to the scheme, Ganiyu soon found a willing ally in officers stationed in the Anti-Robbery Section of the Area Command, located in Sango area of Ogun State. They soon concocted allegations of robbery, stealing and engaging in the sale of marijuana against Chibogwu with a view to find something to nail him with. These allegations, we soon discovered to be untrue and false as the detainee is a law abiding petty trader who deals second hand clothes in Allah Gattan Kowa Market, Super Bus Stop, Abule-Egba, Lagos.” Sulaiman said.
According to him, the wife of the detainee, Mrs. Augustina Chibogwu is in a depressed situation as the police operatives have asked her to look for the sum of N100,000 (one hundred thousand Naira) if her husband is to breathe the air of freedom as failure to provide the stated sum would mean that her spouse would continue to languish in police cell.
“As we speak to you, the woman is distressed, not knowing what to do as it is very difficult for her to muster that kind of amount to free her husband who has been in detention for days without any member of his family having any form of access to him. Our men on ground have even told us that many others have been picked up by men of the Anti-Robbery section of the Sango Area Command on Saturday 23rd of September, 2017 for doing nothing against the law.” Sulaiman said.
According to him, a petition has been sent to the office of the Inspector-General of Police, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, the Minister of Interior, Ogun State governor and the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in charge of ZONE 2 in Onikan, Lagos.
“In our petition, we have requested that the police should immediately release Mr. Joshua Chibogwu and other innocent citizens currently being detained at the Sango Police Area Command in Ogun State. We are also calling for an unreserved apology from the appropriate organ of the force or else, we will be forced to file a suit against the force for illegally abusing the fundamental rights of Nigerians.” He concluded.