Tuesday, December 9, 2014

EXTORTION! Lagosians bemoan extortion at illegal Nigerian police checkpoints

An illegal police checkpoint at Ottor Woff Bus-stop linking Ajegunle to the ever-busy Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. Photo:Ikenna Asomba
An illegal police checkpoint at Ottor Woff Bus-stop linking Ajegunle to the ever-busy Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
DEspite the order given by the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Suleiman Abba, charging all commissioners of police across the country to ensure strict compliance with the ban on police roadblocks, Vanguard, gathered Weekend, that in recent times, illegal checkpoints have been resurfacing across major roads in the Lagos suburbs and metropolis, usually during the evening periods, from 6.00pm to as late as 11.00pm.

Continue reading after the cut......
Abba had on Sunday, September 21, in a statement issued by Emmanuel Ojukwu, the Force spokesman said a situation where police officers and commands constantly violate the subsisting order forbidding mounting of checkpoints across the country is wrong and will be punishable, henceforth.

Corroborating this stance, the Lagos State police commissioner, Mr. Kayode Aderanti, had on Friday, October 21, during a working visit to the Area A Police command, Lion Building, Lagos Island, also warned officers and men of the command against harassment of members of the public and mounting of roadblocks.

Shown the way out: Aderanti who gave this order while he was hosted by the Area Commander, Mr. Imohinmi Edgal, Assistant Commissioner of Police, urged his men to device all means to earn public trust, warning that anyone who fails to change his ways will be shown the way out of the Nigeria Police Force.

As some policemen defy this order, Lagos residents, especially commercial motorists, tricyclists and motorcyclists have continued to lament the increasing number of police illegal checkpoints resurfacing in major roads across the state. This is even as they have called on the police authorities to caution their men and officers to avoid breakdown of law and order, which may not be unconnected to the daily assaults, frustrations and extortion suffered in the hands of the law enforcement agents.

The flashpoints: Some residents who have been victims of this illegal activities by the police, told Vanguard that the situation is becoming worrisome as the yuletide season draws near, calling on the police authorities, to urgently, send out its Police Monitoring Team, on Lagos major and inner-city roads to checkmate the excesses some of its men.

Berger Suya junction

Investigation by Vanguard reveals that the flashpoints across the state where this illegal activities take place include: The Ottor-Worf road linking Ajegunle to the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway; Berger Suya junction linking Olodi-Apapa Ajegunle to the Oshodi-Apapa expressway; New Road junction in Ajegunle; Shasha Roundabout, Egbeda; In front of the Ajegunle Police Station, Owode, Ikorodu; between Ogolonto and Majidun bus-stops, Ikorodu and Chemist bus-stop along the Isolo-Ikotun road.

Others are the Akpata roundabout, Ago Place Way, Okota; Pako bus-stop along the Ikotun-Igando road; Igando bus-stop; Canal Estate junction by Queensland Academy, Ago Palace Way, Okota; Ilasa road, by Ago Palace Way, Okota; Atitebi Street, Ebutte-Metta West; KLT junction, Kirikiri; Mile 2 end bridge descending to the Lagos-Badagry expressway; Abule-Ado bus-stop in front of Tantalizer restaurants, Old Ojo Road; Ereakari junction, Isolo; Ogundele junction, Isolo; Mile 12 bus-stop; Doyin bus-stop, Orile; Adeniran Ogunsanya road, Orile among others.

Mode of operation: Lamenting his frustration, a commercial yellow bus driver, who referred himself as Baba Ibadan said: “The men and officers of the Ajeromi Divisional Police Headquarters are not helping matters here in Ajegunle. Despite the huge amount of levies we pay to the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, on daily basis, police men still extort us on this Ottor-Worf road, early in the morning by 5.00am to 6.00am, and during the evening between 6.00pm and 10.00pm. They collect N100 from us and give us number tags ranging between one and more, for easy identification of drivers that have paid.”

Asked if they have done anything to call the attention of the authorities, Baba Ibadan said: “My brother, who are we to talk. If you try challenge them, they (police men) will begin to request for drivers’ licence, fire extinguishers, vehicle road-worthiness papers.”

Similarly, a commercial motorcyclist, who plies the Boundary-Ottor Worf axis, told Vanguard that policemen from the Ajeromi Divisional Police Headquarters, mount an illegal checkpoint at the Ottor-Worff axis, extorting N200 from them.

He said: “The first set comes to operate in the wee hours of the day between 5.00am to 6.30am. They collect N200 from us and later in the evening another set comes on board, collecting N200 from us and giving us number tags. Any okada rider that is not extorted, either that person is a military personnel or the motorcycle belongs to a police officer in their station.”

Narrating what goes on at the Mile 2 area of the Lagos-Badagry expressway, a motorist, Mr. Charles Igwe said: “Most times, the hectic traffic snarl witnessed along the Mile 2 axis of the Lagos-Badagry expressway is caused by some of the policemen in connivance with men of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency, LASTMA. In pretense that they are checking the particulars of motorists, they stop several vehicles at random over frivolous requests. This ends up causing the traffic snarl witnessed on that road daily.

According to Mrs. Chioma Nzekwe, who resides in the Ago-Okota Place way of the state, “the police authorities should take urgent measures to call their men and officers to order. I feel ashamed most time when I see them perpetrating their extortion activities. You may not be able to differentiate between them and area boys. In my area, especially at the Canal Estate junction by Queensland Academy, Ago-Okota Palace way, some of these officers during the evening periods, mount illegal checkpoint, extorting motorcycle riders N200 each. It is so shocking that they give them number tags to identify those who have paid and those who have not.”

Redeployment of DPOs

Meanwhile, responding to these allegations, the Lagos police command spokesperson, Mr. Kenneth Nwosu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) said: “The Lagos State Police command last Wednesday redeployed over 90 per cent of divisional police officers among the 107 police stations in the state. What the commissioner of police did is a common police routine. The commissioner has the liberty to deploy a divisional police officer anywhere he deems fit for the affected officer. It is also necessary to fill the vacant positions left behind by the DPOs who were promoted from the rank of CSP to assistant commissioners of police, recently. The commissioner of police believe in zero crime tolerance.

Dismantling of road-blocks still in force

Asked if the directive to dismantle road-blocks and permanent check-points by the CP is still in operation, Nwosu said: “The directive by the CP that area commanders and divisional police officers to dismantle road blocks is still in full operation. With the redeployment of the DPOs, the commissioner believes that they can bring to bear their vast experience in the force, to ensure that their men and officers are civil and be more service-oriented to earn the public trust of the people.”

Culled -Vanguard

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