By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
A group, the Nigerian Anti-Corruption Vanguard has decried the alleged wanton extortion of Nigerians by the men of the Nigeria Police Force.
According to the group, the economic effect of the extortion if left unchecked will not augur well for the country, saying more than 200 billion extorted from public in the last six months.
The National Coordinator, Nigeria Anti-Corruption Vanguard, Akin Ayokunle Oloye, while addressing a press conference during the weekend noted that as the report of brutality and extortion on part of the Police filters around the country, the nation’s economic stand will be affected as investments will be cut down, tourism sector and rating of the country on the global corruption will also be reduced.
Furthermore, the group issued a 48-hours ultimatum to the Nigeria Police Force to set up an investigative panel who will look into this wanton extortion and forceful seizure of passports, travelling documents of many victims of police victimization.
Oloye said, “We call on the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences commision (ICPC), the Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Muhammed Adamu and the Human Rights commission to investigate this injustice against Nigerians and that all perpetrators, no matter how highly placed they are in the police force should be brought to book so that Nigerians home and abroad can be sure of their safety when they are in their country home.”
He added, “The attention of the Nigeria Anti-Corruption Vanguard has has been drawn to the wanton and incessant extortion of innocent Nigerians by the officers of the Nigeria Police Force particularly some special intervention squad under Zone 2 Zonal Command.
“Our investigation shows that various special units create outside police state commands are used by criminal elements in the force to harass and extort money from Nigerians, high profile personalities and Nigerians living in diaspora visiting the country.
“These special units often time act which has been ongoing for about a year now has reached its zenith and it is important such an indecent act is discouraged and that the police authorities look into it.
“Countless number of Nigerians have been subjected to horrible treatment by the officers of the Nigerian police claiming to be acting on tip off by the public that those Nigerians are criminals, most of these tips have proven to be false but the police still demands for heavy bribe before victims are released.
“In Ogun State also a special intervention unit under Zone 2 of the NPF is notorious for such acts, officers from the units are known for courting these unholy acts.
“Complaints from residents of Lagos, Port Harcourt and Benin show that these officers are colluding with some members of the public without proper investigation to falsely accuse Nigerians mostly high profile personalities and Nigerians living in diaspora visiting the country of crime that can tarnish their image. They will also threaten such persons that they have evidence against them but will refuse to charge them to court nor access to lawyers and family members hence they will resort to bargaining with victims and pricing their freedom.
“Most recent of these incessant extortion is the one involving one Mr. Frederick, a Nigerian living in South Africa was arrested based on a petition that he is planning to kill one of his partners. He was not allowed to call his lawyer, neither was he charged to court. These bad eggs among the noble men of the Nigeria Police Force bargained with the man and extorted Mr. Frederick to the tune of 3,000,000 before he was later released.
“According to intelligence report, we realized that police officers perpetrating this act are moving about in private cars to effect these arrests and at some point they bargain with the victims before they get to the station. In cases where the victim is scared of this blackmail, and he cooperates with them, they ask him for money to get rid of the accusations against him and they set such victim free once the levelled amount is paid. Nigerians that cannot afford the billing are made to write statement against themselves and they are consequently kept in the cell for a period ranging from weeks to months depending on how fast they can pay for bail.”