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Nigerian Police

22.06.2024 Featured Is FESTAC Police Station Lagos’ Most Notorious? Its Atrocities Date Back to 2006

Published 22nd Jun, 2024

By Emmanuel Uti

Police extortion and unlawful arrests have long been a concern in many parts of Lagos State, but the officers from FESTAC Police Station have taken these practices to an extreme that many Lagos residents cannot comprehend.

From daily harassment of young men to intimidation of motorcyclists in the area, the FESTAC police exemplify how police officers account for a significant share of all bribes paid in Nigeria – over one-third (35.7%).

Due to the unending illegal actions of the FESTAC police station, many young men and women fear visiting the area. A recent case that shocked Lagos residents involved officers from the station travelling to Lekki at night to arrest random men and detain them for extortion.

Femi Dapson, an executive producer, described his experience of this illegal operation. On April 4, he was stopped by policemen on Orchid Road in Lekki Phase 2 and cuffed before he could react. Despite identifying himself, the officers told him the key to the handcuff was at their station. After much argument, he agreed to follow them, thinking the station was nearby, but they drove him all the way to FESTAC.

READ MORE: ‘We’re Tired of Working for Them’ — Motorcycle Rider Laments Extortion by FESTAC Police

“Before I knew it, we were on Eko Bridge and I started to panic because it felt like kidnapping. I asked one of them where we were going. When we arrived in Festac, they took me to a point of sale operator before they let me go,” Dapson recounted on X (formerly Twitter).

Dapson is not the only one with such an experience. Another X user, Shinettw, posted a video in April indicating he was arrested by FESTAC police officers from Orchid in Lekki Phase 2.

“Still unbelievable that I was taken from Orchid Road to Festac at midnight,” he tweeted.

In December, FESTAC police surprised X users by unjustly arresting Moyo Okediji, a professor of arts at a United States university. The professor, who had left Nigeria over 30 years earlier and vowed never to return due to his experiences with the military government, was shown that the civilian government might not be any better.

Upon arriving in Mile 2, Lagos, the police searched his bags, and, although he identified himself and presented all his identity cards, the officers labelled a sculpture in his bag as a charm and said having it was a crime. If not for some well-meaning youths who intervened, the situation could have been worse.

“They [youths] accosted the officer who held my wallet containing my ID card and money, shouting, ‘You better give him back his wallet and money now. We will not let you take him to the police station to kill him like you always do to international visitors,’” the lecturer recounted.

The police did not use their official vehicle, he noted.

READ MORE: ‘They’re the Definition of All Evil’ — Lagosians Narrate Experience With Festac Policemen

Like many police officers, the FESTAC police require a tip before taking action, regardless of the reported matter. For example, after a minor was raped and her mother reported it to the station, the officers demanded N100,000 before taking any action.

Kingsley Ekanem, a photographer, shared on X in December how he declined a job offer because he wanted to avoid FESTAC police officers.

“I had a booking today in Festac town and the event was to end at 10 pm. After thinking about all kinds of police brutality and reports from Festac, I turned down the job. This Christmas, I don’t want any police wahala plus going with my expensive equipment,” he said.

FESTAC police’s highhandedness is not a recent development. In 2006, they terrorised Lagos residents. They killed Daniel Adewuyi Tella, a 27-year-old banking and finance graduate about to start his national youth service. On February 7, 2006, the FESTAC police arrested him on his way home in Lagos, took the money meant for his youth service and tortured him to get more. He died in custody. The police later alleged that Tella sustained injuries when he jumped out of a moving police vehicle.

Despite several petitions from Tella’s family to the Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, the Governor of Lagos State, and other officials, no inquiry was made into his death.

Many Nigerians have called for reforming the FESTAC police, but their pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

When FIJ called Benjamin Hundeyin, the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), for comments, he did not take his call. A text message sent to his phone had not been responded to at press time.

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Published 22nd Jun, 2024

By Emmanuel Uti

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