Tima Walter, a Bolt driver in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has narrated how the police in Choba Area Police Command made him an accused by upturning an issue he reported to them to avoid compensating him.
Walter told FIJ that the police falsely accused him of overspeeding and charged him to court when he is, in fact, the victim of an accident caused by a careless herdsman.
He said he was driving to Rumuosi on September 8 when a herd of cows ran into his speeding vehicle and damaged it. According to Walter, he was in his lane at about 1 am that morning, when over a hundred cows came in his direction and crashed into his car.
He said that immediately after the collision, he stepped out to see if the cows had a herder so he could get a hold of him to discuss how to fix his car.
“When the herdsman saw me looking for him, he blew his whistle and the cows took a different turn with him running in the bush behind. I only wanted him to fix my car, because I was in my lane,” Walter told FIJ.
Walter said he went to the Choba Area Police Command to report the issue but officers refused to follow him to the scene until an elderly man pleaded with them on his behalf.
When the police arrived at the scene, they saw a dead cow lying down, he said. The police then told him to return at the break of dawn for a follow-up on the issue.
“At dawn, the police contacted someone and sold the cow for N200,000. My car is partly damaged, so I expected the police to give me part of the money to repair it since the herdsman ran away, but they did not,” he said.
“When I went to the station, the Inspecting Police Officer (IPO) told me the police had found out where the herd was, but they neither took me there nor tried to arrest the herdsman. They were just after the money from the cow they sold.”
Walter said that he demanded the money to repair his car but the IPO said the buyer made only a partial payment. He said he went to the police station several times after he first reported the case but no one took him seriously.
“Sometimes, I would go to the station despite calling them before leaving my house, but on getting there, they would be unavailable. Other times, I had to wait till they returned, and when they did, the Divisional Traffic Officer (DTO) would ask me to get a court order,” he said.
The Bolt driver said the first time he and the police officers went to the court, the officers told the magistrate a cow had died after the incident and they wanted a court order to bury it.
The magistrate asked the officers to bury the cow as there was no case and especially because the herdsman had not come to claim it.
Walter said the police reported what the magistrate said at their station, but the DTO requested a written document to the effect.
“When the police went back to the court, the IPO told the magistrate the truth that they sold the cow for N200,000,” he said.
Walter said that he went to Choba Magistrate Court on Tuesday on Choba Police DTO’s request, only to realise that the police had pressed some charges against him.
“When I got to the court, I realised I had become the accused. The police had put up some charges against me. They claimed I was driving recklessly,” he said.
“The magistrate was laughing when he was reading the charges. He even had to cancel out some allegations because he was aware of the situation.”
Walter said the IPO told the magistrate that the boys in the community sold the cow and he only collected the money from them.
“The truth is the police sold the cow. One officer called someone to buy it. The buyer paid N110,000 and promised to pay N90,000 later. I even heard the officers threaten to deal with and arrest the buyer if he failed to pay,” Walter said.
He said the magistrate granted him bail and his brother paid while someone stood as a surety for him.
“My headlights are bad, the windscreen is broken, and the bumper now needs repair. The car is my only source of income,” Walter said.
When FIJ called the DTO, he asked this reporter to visit their police station and ask the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) further questions.
“Reach out to my DPO if you want to know the aftermath of the matter,” he said.
FIJ also contacted Grace Irine-Koko, the Rivers State Police spokesperson, but she said the matter had gone to court and was no more with the police.
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