On Thursday, November 4, Olamilekan Akinwande and Leke Obase declined to bribe the police, and they found themselves at the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) in Alagbon, Lagos, pleading not to be jailed.
The duo were at a traffic light in Jakande, Lagos, around 1 pm, when a commercial bus double-crossed their vehicle. Akinwande wanted to raise his voice, but he soon saw policemen alighting from the bus.
“A police officer told me to remain in the car while they searched my boot. Later, two of six policemen entered my car and began to check. They took my friend to their vehicle while they continued to interrogate me,” Akinwande told FIJ.
“They checked my phone and found nothing, but unknown to me, they had found the Binance app on my friend’s phone and found that he had $23,000 on it. Immediately, they handcuffed my friend and asked that we follow them to the police station.”
On seeing that the young men were determined to prove that they were innocent, the officers advised them to consider paying N40 million rather than being victims of police brutality.
“The officers said it was wrong to trade in cryptocurrency that had been banned by the government. But when I reminded them of eNaira, they shunned me,” Akinwande said.
“I insisted that my friend and I would not pay N40 million because we committed no crime, but the officers reduced their initial fee to N20 million. I also refused to comply, and then they slapped me and my friend.”
When the officers saw the men were hell-bent, they took them to the FCIID office in Alagbon. “One of the officers said, ‘Take these ones to Alagbon since they do not want to pay,'” Akinwande said.
According to him, going to Alagbon was like being sold to a more cruel police arm.
“Before I could answer a question, one of the officers in Alagbon slapped me. I could not see for another two minutes. Later, two officers asked for the entire $23,000 in my friend’s wallet,” Akinwande said.
“When we saw the length the officers would go to get us jailed, we had to agree to their terms. Afterwards, we sent $15,000 (N6.1 million at the current exchange rate) to them. But that was where our ordeal began,” Akinwande said.
Some officers brought out fraudulent documents and forced Akinwande and his friend to sign them. The officers also took mug shots of the young men and a video where they identified themselves as internet fraudsters on the orders of the police officers.
“I lost all hope that day,” Akinwande told FIJ. “I thought I would go to prison the following day. The worst thing was that we had no access to our phones until they let us go.”
FIJ made several calls to CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, Lagos State Police spokesperson, but he did not answer them. A text message sent to his phone was also not responded to.
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.