As the Nigeria Police Force attempts to rebuild its image, three police officers of the Lagos State Command have been dismissed.
The action was taken in a case of illegal arrest and extortion reported three weeks ago by an unnamed Nigerian using the popular social-messaging service, WhatsApp.
A statement by Assistant Commissioner Of Police Abayomi Shogunle of the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU) in Abuja said the dismissal followed an internal trial at which the men were found guilty, under the Police Act, of corrupt practices and discreditable conduct. In a major image-makeover effort, the PCRRU is sending to the public such messages as: “Remember, Bail is Free, PCRRU says NO TO IMPUNITY and our quick response will put a smile on your face.”
The dismissed officers are: Inspector Okelue Nkemeonye, Sgt. Braimoh Sunday and Sgt. Yusuf Olukoga, met their fate after the complaint was filed on June 21. Their lead officer, ASP Bayo Obadiah, received an official query and his case is being sorted out.
In his message to the PCRRU, the complainant told the horrendous story of how he was abducted by a team of policemen that morning as he came out of a bank to transact business. Held all day until about 6 p.m., not only was he beaten by the policemen, they used his ATM to withdraw money from his account, and transferred money into another account provided by one of them.
According to ACP Shogunle, “Upon the receipt of the complaint, a case with Tracking Number PCRRU637624 was registered and acknowledgment of complaint sent to the complainant. PCRRU Investigation team was dispatched to Ikorodu where all the three dismissed policemen including AP No. 98199 ASP Bayo Obadia who led the team were apprehended. PCRRU preliminary investigation reveals that all the allegations contained in the WhatsApp message actually happened.”
In addition, he said the four police officers who were armed on the day of the incident had falsely paraded themselves as operatives of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) despite not being posted to SARS by police authorities.
Investigation also showed that the officers extorted a total sum of N200,000 from the young men whom they tagged “Yahoo Yahoo Boys,” the money forcibly taken from them via an N90,000 ATM withdrawal and another N110,000 mobile bank money transfer to a third-party account provided by the policemen, ACP Shogunle continued, adding the extorted N200,000 was recovered by the PCRRU Investigators.
“All the arrested officers, witnesses and recovered exhibits including the N200,000 cash and printed bank statement of account were handed over to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 2 Lagos for further detailed investigation and necessary disciplinary measures,” he said. “The approval of the punishment of dismissal from service as recommended by the Adjudicating officer is part of the outcome of the disciplinary measures.”
With reference to ASP Bayo Obadiah “who led the team of the infamous men on this unacceptable conduct,” he pointed out that an official query was issued to him by the AIG Zone 2 Lagos, and that both his reply and that query have been forwarded to the office of the Force Secretary in Abuja from where it will go to the Police Service Commission as required by Police Regulations.
“The Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris, has commended the complainant for coming forward to report the incident to PCRRU, the IGP has also said that all allegations of professional misconduct reported against any police officer would be treated in line with relevant laws and in keeping to the 'Change Begins With Me Campaign' of the Federal Government,” Shogunle noted.
He encouraged the public to report cases of police misconduct to the PCRRU for resolution, stressing that the IGP Idris led administration is bent on ensuring a more public friendly and corrupt free police force in Nigeria.