FIJ’s attention has been drawn to a press statement by Ajayi Okasanmi, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Kwara State Police Command, over the continued detention of an aged woman, Abdullateef Awawu Ibidun, and her granddaughter, Balikis, despite the order for their releaase by higher authorities.
On Thursday morning, Okasanmi had issued the statement in reaction to FIJ’s report ‘Police in Kwara Demand N400,000 Bribe from Detained Street Sweeper, Granddaughter‘. In it, he debunked a part of the news story.
He also stated that Mohammed Lawal Bagega, the state commissioner, had launched an investigation into the bribery allegation involving officers of the Command’s Criminal Investigation Department, CID, and vowed to sanction any culpable officers.
The statement, in full and unedited, reads:
RE- POLICE IN KWARA DEMANDED #400,000 FROM DETAINED STREET SWEEPER GRANDMA AND DAUGHTER.
The Kwara State Police Command wishes to shed light on @yemisoyombo Tweet making the rounds with the above headline.
The command wishes to set the record straight as the story was not exactly as reported.
Sometimes in July 2020, a vehicle was snatched at gun point somewhere in Adewole area of Ilorin and investigated by the State Cid Ilorin, however a phone that was snatched along with the vehicle was tracked to a young boy who claimed to have bought the phone from another young man, finally the phone was traced to the grandma and her daughter.
The grandma, in her statement, claimed to have picked the phone on the ground while sweeping the street, considering the serious nature of the case, she couldn’t have been allowed to go without thorough investigation, hence she was detained. On why she stayed she was still in detention, nobody seemed ready to stand surety for her, not even from the agency she claimed to be working, to worsen the situation, the courts were on strike action and as such, couldn’t be charged. Efforts by the investigarors to get a letter of identification from her workplace was not successful, until yesterday, contrary to the insinuation of the writer that she and her grand daughter were kept in detention because she couldn’t raise the alleged #400,000 demanded for bail.
The commissioner of Police on receiving the report personally interrogated the grandma and members of her family who later showed up to confirm the veracity of the allegations of demand of money to which they all denied, stating that nobody demanded any money from them neither did anybody told them that Police demanded money on their behalf even on video.
Regarding the alleged receipt of #200,000 from two suspects earlier released. The Commissioner of police,CP Mohammed Lawal Bagega has caused a thorough investigation into the allegation of bribery against the officer, if proven to be true, the officers involved will be made to face the consequences of their actions in accordance with with police acts and regulations.
The grandma and her daughter has since been released on bail to her agency on the order of the Commissioner of Police.
Sp Okasanmi Ajayi (anipr)
Police Public Relations Officer
FOR: COMMISSIONER OF POLICE
KWARA STATE POLICE COMMAND
Many of the claims in Okasanmi’s claims are not exactly as they have been represented. Therefore, FIJ fact-checked them.
Okasanmi said the aged woman was arrested in connection to a car robbery at Adewole area of Ilorin in July 2020. He noted that the phone belonging to the robbery victim was traced to her and some people, prompting their arrest for investigation.
Explainer: Indeed, the aged woman was arrested alongside her granddaughter Balikis and the Jimoh brothers Habeeb and Taye over the possession of a phone said to have been found while the old woman was performing her duties as a street sweeper. The phone was later found to belong to the victim of the car robbery whose name will be concealed for safety purposes.
Okasanmi said the old woman was still in detention because “nobody seemed ready to stand surety for her, not even from the agency she claimed to be working”.
Explainer: The manager of Primskip Company (operating under the auspices of the state’s ministry of environment), where the old woman works, had visited the police station a few days after her arrest, FIJ can confirm. One of the family members was also ready to stand as surety but all their efforts were frustrated. To further prove that this was all about money, other detainees of the case did not regain their freedom until they coughed up large sums of mney. Opeyemi Kolawole (popularly called SUPOL Kola), collected a bribe of N200,000 from the surety of Jimoh Brothers to secure their release of Taye and Habeeb on separate days. FIJ is aware that this deal was done without the knowledge of the complainant of the case.
Okasanmi further mentioned that “efforts by the investigators to get a letter of identification from her workplace was [sic] not successful, until yesterday, contrary to the insinuation of the writer that she and her granddaughter were kept in detention because she couldn’t raise the alleged #400,000 demanded for bail”.
Explainer: A source who is privy to the facts of the matter informed FIJ that SUPOL Kola wasn’t willing to release the detainees because they were not ready to pay. When FIJ reported this, Adedigba Adeyinka, a team member of the Police Complaint Response Unit, an arm of the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, intervened. On multiple occasions, he spoke with officers of the Kwara State Police Command via telephone, calling for the release of the detainees. SUPOL Kola himself was subsequently asked to go to the Ministry of Environment to get a letter on behalf of the detainee to facilitate release, which he did around 12 noon. Despite the order and completion of the documentation process, both the old woman and her granddaughter spent another night at the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) cell. All these abortive processes lasted over five hours on Wednesday.
While concluding his statement, Okasanmi said: “The commissioner of Police on receiving the report personally interrogated the grandma and -members of her family who later showed up to confirm the veracity of the allegations of demand of money, to which they all denied, stating that nobody demanded any money from them neither did anybody told them [sic] that Police demanded money on their behalf even on video.”
Explainer: This newspaper can confirm that one of the family members was interrogated under duress. As a matter of fact, the officers of the CID first asked the family if they knew any publisher. They were then commanded on Wednesday to deny knowing the reporter, Gabriel Ogunjobi, and publish an antagonizing report in any local newspaper today (Thursday) to invalidate FIJ’s report, as precondition for the release of Ibidun and Balikis. On the same day, the family members were also forced to write down the name of FIJ reporter, Gabriel Ogunjobi, although he refused to be goaded into writing anything indicting.
In a developing event, FIJ gathered that the two freed suspects and their sureties were contacted to return to the station but not for the reason expected.
One of the witnesses at the station told FIJ in confidence that “SUPOL Kola was shaking while speaking with the surety on the phone”.
“He asked them to come to the CID to come and deny giving the officer money for their release but they are also scared,” the source said.
Okasanmi had started the press statement by saying: “The Kwara State Police Command wishes to shed light on @yemisoyombo Tweet making the rounds with the headline: RE- POLICE IN KWARA DEMANDED #400,000 FROM DETAINED STREET SWEEPER GRANDMA AND DAUGHTER.”
Explainer: Look no further than the immortal words of P.T. Barnum: “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me, at least spell my name right.”
There is no tweet by any ‘@yemisoyombo’ making the rounds. If the Police know anyone like that on the FIJ team, they should let us know. If the name of anyone on our team has been misrespresented, why should we trust the Police not to misrepresent the facts?
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