Police officers at Alausa police station are taking advantage of the COVID-19 curfew in Lagos to extort stranded Nigerian travellers, FIJ can report.
Over one reason or the other, some Nigerians have experienced unexpected changes in their flight schedules, thereby causing them to arrive at Murtala Muhammed International Airport at midnight.
Most complainants who expressed their worries on social media blamed Air Peace Airline for poor service delivery.
Air Peace apologised for the inconvenience, stating their “uncompromising stance on safety” as the reason for changes in flight time.
The consequence, however, is that these travellers are forced to bribe police officers on night parade at Alausa area before they are freed. Femi Oni told FIJ how these police officers collected N12,000 from him on March 21 after his return trip to Lagos from Abuja was delayed.
According to him, at least 15 other travellers like him suffered the same fate that night.
“After my brother and I were flashed down in front of Alausa police station, we quickly showed the officers the driver’s license and my boarding pass but the superior, an elderly woman, didn’t listen to our explanation of a delayed flight,” Oni said.
Oni noted the time was already past 12am as of then, with many other cars confiscated, sparking protest from the passengers.
“We were told our lack of obedience will lead us into more trouble. I eventually asked my brother to drive into the station and all of us were made to drop our car keys with a lady officer who had a black nylon bag where she kept keys of cars that were arrested that night. The lady labelled the keys with each car’s plate number,” she continued.
“We were sent back outside and called in one after the other to negotiate the release of our car. The arrests went on till 2am while people tried to figure out who to call or what to do so they could leave.”
At first, Oni said he was asked to bring N15,000 but he couldn’t afford it. His brother was allowed to use the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) nearby. They were eventually freed after giving the police N12,000 against their will.
“I didn’t want to do that but the delay was going to affect my brother’s early morning appointment at work,” he lamented.
“By the time I was called to negotiate, there was now more agitation between car owners and some of the officers, which even led to a car owner being slapped in the face. I didn’t want to be around such an incident at that time of the day.”
Muyiwa Adejobi, the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, told FIJ that the victims of extortion are encouraged to come forward with helpful information to aid them in getting justice.
“If they can provide information about the incident, including the time, place and probably identify the officers that collected money from them, they should come forward with such details,” he said.
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