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Police charging N40,000 before responding to distress calls in Imo – HURIWA alleges

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has expressed utter shock and disappointment over the level of alleged corruption in Imo Police Command.


The rights group in a statement made available by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the Command has now reached a new low with police officers now charging fees of between N40,000 to N100, 000 before they can respond to distress calls by members of the public who encounter societal undesirable elements.


“HURIWA has therefore decided to petition the National Assembly public complaints committee to investigate this scams going on within the ranks and files of the Nigerian police force in the Imo State police command.


” The rights group wondered why the National Human Rights Commission has failed in its core mandate to enforce human rights in Nigeria and with specific concern about the South East of Nigeria whereby citizens face arbitrary arrests, detention, extortion and extrajudicial execution of citizens by the police,” it said.


Besides, HURIWA said :”the police traffic division in the Imo State police command has now set up operational base in front of the state command headquarters near the Federal prisons in Owerri Imo State whereby a top flight officer of the police sends out junior police operatives to arrest oncoming unsuspecting members of the driving public in private automobiles indiscriminately, private owners of choice vehicles under the guise that they beat traffic light.


“The so-called defaulting car owners who are mostly returnees from outside of South East who are home for the Yuletide and virtually all those arrested are extorted by the commander from between N2,000 to N20,000 and if the arrested car owner resists the attempt to make him/her part with the bribes to the police, they are immediately taken to the police station.”


In a media release, the civil society organisation stated that its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, who witnessed the ordeals of some vehicle owners, made several calls to the Imo State police commissioner on a phone contact provided directly by the Force public relations officer from Abuja who when told of what was happening in Owerri, apologised and said he was in a noisy environment and so couldn’t call so he sent a phone line and asked the National Coordinator of HURIWA to initiate a call to the Imo State police head.


” Onwubiko disclosed thereafter that upon several calls made to the line provided, it wasn’t connecting. A retired director in the police service commission who is on vacation in Owerri was reached by HURIWA and he provided the phone line of the Imo State Police Command but frantic efforts made to call this line was fruitless.


” When the National Coordinator confronted the senior officer of the police: a very tall, bulky and hefty officer adorning black coloured police uniform with his identity concealed from public view, the offending police officer told HURIWA that it doesn’t matter who we are just as he sarcastically claimed that the police will do what they think is best. But clearly what went on was pure robbery and extortion ring organised by the officers of the Imo State Police Command.


“The most disturbing phenomenon of lack of professionalism and the commercialisation of police functions, the Rights organisation confirmed that aside the fact that police officers routinely go around in police operational vehicles harassing young men driving exotic cars under the guise that they are YAHOOYAHOO and so in the process force the harassed and arbitrarily arrested youngster to cough out between N100, 000 to N500, 000 or the person will end up being framed up for a crime he knows nothing about and such a person faces long, tortuous and torturous detention in one of their facilities in Owerri until such a time that someone either comes to pay to get the person out or he languishes in detention.


” The other side of the criminality by the Imo State Police Command is that they charge distressed Imo people who approach them to arrest a crime suspects such as hoodlums and thieves but shockingly, three of such victims of crime in Owerri told HURIWA that they were asked to pay between N40,000 to N100,000 or else the police wouldn’t respond to the distress calls by citizens, ” the statement said.


The rights group “therefore called on the police IGP Kayode Egbetokun to wake up from slumber, deploy anonymously dressed armed police spies to investigate these ongoing crimes by the police and ensure that corrupt minded police officers and operatives are wedded out of the police because the people of Nigeria are rapidly losing faith in the police due to these serial extortion and brazen act of criminality which are antithetical to the ethics of the profession of policing and violate the global best practices.”


HURIWA also called on the police to activate credible platforms for instantaneous feedbacks from members of the public, adding that the phone details of State police commands circulated on the social media handles by the police are mere superficial contraptions and at best meant to deceive Nigerians to believe that the police have changed for the better.


 

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