Olumayowa Okediran, a staff member of a United States-based human rights organisation, Students For Liberty, has condemned the threat to his life by officers at Ajah Police Division in the Ajah area of Lagos State to kill him, prompting him to pay N25,000 under duress to secure his freedom from custody.
Okediran said he was accosted by the two policemen on duty at Badore roundabout while he was travelling to Ibadan with his family members. He said the policemen were first drawn to his vehicle when they noticed that the front number plate was missing.
“The police officers asked why one of the number plates was missing in front of the car and I politely explained how it detached during a trip,” Okediran said. “In fact, I showed them where I kept the number plate in the booth.”
This would later become an avenue for extortion by the policemen “in a way that established organized fraud between the Nigerian Police and their accomplice”.
The accomplice, in this case, was a POS operator, Okediran noted.
FROM NUMBER PLATE SCRUTINY TO DRAMATIC ‘SHOOT-TO-KILL’ SCENE
After verifying the location of the missing number plate, the Police further asked for his vehicle particulars before the conversation eventually became heated up.
Okediran said he handed over all the documents in his safe, including those of his second car parked at home.
“I showed them all the papers and these police officers said it themselves multiple times that the papers were indeed valid but still questioned why I had the documents of my second car with me at that moment,” Okediran further said.
“It took me another burden of phoning my lawyer to further vouch for me but they didn’t listen. The policemen insisted on taking me to their station to take my statement as a criminal suspect.”
Upon getting to the station, Okediran added that he was led to a corner of the visibly wrecked structure within the police station, where he was almost coerced by a policeman, Usman Umaru, into writing an incriminating statement against himself.
“Umaru said he would shoot me right there and nothing would happen despite seeing my family members in my car. It was then I became very scared for my life”, Okediran noted.
When the atmosphere became tense, the second officer called him to a side to negotiate his release for N300,000.
Okediran continued, saying: “They said my NGO was one of the active participants of #EndSARS protests that led to the razing of their police station.”
“After I got tired of the blackmail, I reluctantly agreed to pay N25,000 instead of N300,000 because I know how the police can cook up crimes against you.”
Instead of collecting the money by hand, FIJ however established that the policemen instructed their detainee to make a credit transfer to a POS operator named Onyilo Francis Edache.
This action is consistent with past reports of misconduct by policemen officers that have been reported in the recent past.
A FRUSTRATED NIGERIAN VS DIPLOMATIC DPO
FIJ learnt that the DPO ensured that Okediran was reimbursed but the victim of extortion said he would be appeased if the erring officers face the full wrath of the law.
After the intervention of a top government official, Okediran was later contacted by Tajudeen Mustapha, the Divisional Police Officer, for an amicable resolution of the issue.
“This is not the fifth time police officers would be threatening to shoot me because I am defending my inalienable rights,” Okediran told FIJ.
“I am tired. I cannot continue to live like that. It looks like the 2020 nationwide protests did nothing of the conduct of Nigerian Police.
“More so, the DPO didn’t even allow me to register my concerns about the citizen’s insecurity. He was just after refunding my money and covering up the case.”
ALL A TRIGGER-HAPPY OFFICER DESERVES IS A NIGHT IN CELL
When FIJ contacted Mustapha to inquire if either Usman Umaru or the second officer was punished for their misconduct, he first asked to know the interest of FIJ’s reporter before finally saying: “Of course, I locked him up that night. He was just released this morning when I got to the office.”
When FIJ asked for the statement written by the erring police officer, the DPO asked the reporter to see him in person.
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