Officers of the Kwara Police Command are demanding N400,000 to grant the release of an aged woman, Abdullateef Awawu Ibidun and her granddaughter, Balikis, who have been detained at the Criminal Investigation Department of the Kwara State Police Command for the past 14 days for picking an Android phone from a refuse bin.
The aged woman, who is a street sweeper, had said she picked up the damaged phone from the refuse bin in July 2020 and gave it to her granddaughter, said to be in her early 20s. The granddaughter subsequently gifted the phone to her friend, Jimoh Habeeb.
Habeeb began to use the phone after repairing it but again decided to sell it to his own brother, Taye when he was short of cash. Nine months later, the phone would be found to belong to the son-in-law of Abdulazeez Yusuf, whose car had been hijacked by armed robbers in July 2020.
Alhaji Yusuf made a complaint about the car theft at the Kwara State Police Command, and the police officers were able to trace the phone inside the car with its International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. After doing so, the police enforced the arrest of all the hands involved in the exchange of the phone from the street sweeper herself to the eventual phone buyer, on April 7, 2021.
FIJ learnt that the Jimoh brothers (Habeeb and Taye) who last used the phone have been released since last week after Opeyemi Kolawole (SUPOL Kola), the officer in charge of the case at the CID, collected a sum of N100,000 from each of them, making a total of N200,000.
Although the car, the capital reason for the complaint, is still yet to be found, the police are already making a merchandise of the case behind the knowledge of the complainant, FIJ can report.
When our reporter spoke with Alhaji Yusuf over the case, he was shocked to find out that the release of Jimoh brothers cost them N200,000. He also confirmed that he had already made effort to ensure the release of the aged woman in the cell.
“I personally have sympathy for the old woman,” he said.
“We don’t have any interest either in keeping the woman in detention. We are only interested in recovering my son-in-law’s car and nothing more but the police said they are still investigating the case.”
Meanwhile, the police officers at CID are pestering the old woman’s family to bring N400,000 for their mother and the granddaughter to be bailed.
Mohammed Ladi, a son of the detained woman, told FIJ the police are only taking advantage of the strike action of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to extort them.
He said: “Today (Tuesday) marks the 14th day that my mother and Balikis have been detained. After much begging and evidence of her work with the Kwara State Waste Management Company in order to prove her innocence, they are demanding N400,000 but we cannot even afford that.
“They are intentionally delaying until we are ready to pay the money because they know the case can’t be charged to court now because of the strike. The complainant of the case has also called them on several occasions to plead for the release but they are not ready to do so unless we pay the money.”
When contacted, Ambrose Onah, the Deputy Commissioner of Police Criminal Investigation Department (DCCID), said he was not sure of the journalist’s identity, so he asked for a visit to his office “for proper identification”.
Ajayi Okasanmi, the Kwara Police Public Relations Officer, also said he wasn’t aware of the case.
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