Victor Eze, a photographer, has accused policemen at Abudu checkpoint in Edo of stealing his accessories and extorting up to N150,000 from him at gunpoint.
On Thursday, Eze left Lagos for Asaba in a God Is Good Motors vehicle, but the bus soon broke down on the road and he continued the journey in another. However, police officers stopped the car at a checkpoint in Abudu community, Benin.
Being the only young person in the car, the officers asked Eze to alight from the vehicle and enter theirs. He entered the vehicle, a white Hilux, and gave his phone up for a search on the orders of the police.
“The first app the police officers checked on my phone was my message app. They checked to see the credit and debit alerts on my phone. Then they checked my WhatsApp. On seeing my chat with a foreigner, they called me a fraudster,” Eze recounted.
“I explained to the officers that I was only discussing with the foreigner about how my elder brother could create the type of website she wanted, but they did not hear me out.”
Later, the officers asked to check his second phone, an iPhone 6. After failing to find anything incriminating on it, the officers called him a ‘slow poison’, adding that he must be corrupt for them not to find anything incriminating on his phone.
“At that point, they asked for N300,000 and threatened to take me to their police station if I failed to cooperate. They said they would take me to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which would then arrest me for fraud and still give them a percentage of whatever my family would pay as bail,” he said.
“Seeing they wanted the driver to continue the journey without me, I began to plead with them to accept N50,000. I reminded them that I am not a criminal and that they found nothing incriminating on me, but it only got them more angry.”
In annoyance, the officers told the driver to continue the journey without Eze. However, hearing that the officers meant to harm him, the driver, who fairly understood the local dialect spoken by the police officers, asked that they give him the chance to talk to his passenger.
According to Eze, the driver pleaded with him to give in to the demands of the officers as it was getting late. “He hinted that they could kill me if I didn’t agree to pay. After much consideration, I offered to pay N150,000,” he said.
Although the officers initially disagreed with Eze’s N150,000 bid, they later agreed. One of the officers then sent an Opay account number.
“They did not let me go initially. The officers waited for the Opay agent to whom I sent the money to tell them he had received it.”
When contacted, SP Kotongs Bello, the spokesperson for Edo police, sent a text message asking the victim to lodge an official complaint.
“This is not a media matter,” he said. “Send the photographer to come lodge a complaint and the officers will be fished out if the allegations are true”, his text reads.
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