A 58-year-old farmer, Chris Onwubuke, has been allegedly compelled to part with N100,000 after he was wrongly arrested and detained by operatives of the Special Anti-robbery Squad, Lagos State Command.
It was learnt that the police unit was looking for one Chukwudi, popularly called Baba Ejima, for a fraud case involving him and one Israel, who had been arrested.
The detectives were said to have gone on a search for Baba Ejima at Likosi-Mosimi, in the Sagamu area of Ogun State at about 7.30am last Friday, tracking him with a phone number.
It was gathered that some vigilantes in the community led them to a mechanic shop, where the farmer, who bears Ejima as a middle name, was replacing one of the tyres of his car.
The victim told our correspondent that the policemen accosted him after his phone rang, alleging that he was the suspect they were looking for.
He said, “The vigilantes said some people were looking for me. I said I didn’t do anything. Two SARS officials came in a vehicle; one wielding a gun and the other with tear gas and handcuffs. They drove me to their office and took my car along. I asked them my offence, but they didn’t tell me. They asked why my phone rang and I told them that it might be a mix-up.
“When we got to their office in Ikeja, they said I was involved in a robbery. I was shocked. They asked if I was Chukwudi – Baba Ejima – I said no. They asked if I had a brother with the name Chukwudi, but I said no. They also asked if I worked in Warf (Lagos), I said no. They later said Chukwudi duped somebody.
“There was a man that came to their office. I later knew his name as Israel. I have never met him before that day. The officers asked him if he knew me; he said no. Israel told me that he was arrested and spent almost one week in the custody.”
The Delta State indigene explained that he was locked up in a cell until 2pm on Saturday, adding that he enquired to know his offence again, but was asked to look for a surety and pay N300,000 for bail.
“My relatives begged them and after negotiations, they collected N100,000. My sister-in-law borrowed the money from her neighbour. One of the policemen identified himself as ASP Alagbe and gave me his phone number. They seized my phone and asked me to come for it on Monday. They have tarnished my image. When I got home, I found a pair of handcuffs in my car and took them to the police station in my area.”
Onwubuke said the Officer in-Charge of SARS summoned the operatives that carried out the act when he reported back on Monday.
“The OC SARS was angry. They gave me N50,000, claiming that was what they collected from me. I insisted it was N100,000. The OC SARS said they must pay all the money. He begged me and promised to deal with them. They have also given me my telephone,” he added.
However, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said it was one informant at large, who disguised as a policeman and collected the money from the victim, adding that the command was on the trail of the informant.
He said, “I have spoken with the OC SARS. He said based on investigations, someone who claimed to be an informant collected the money from that man. He used the name ASP Alagbe to get information and collect N100,000 from the victim. Immediately he (Onwubuke) raised the alarm, the main officer in question was called, but he said he could not identify the man.
“The OC SARS has requested necessary information about the informant and immediately he is arrested, the man’s money will be refunded through that informant, who is not a police officer. The issue has nothing to do with the police. No police officer from SARS took money from the man.”