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COVID-19: Security Operatives Exploit Lockdown Order To Harass, Extort Citizens

For instance, the police in Ondo State have been accused of bribery and corruption after opening the borders into the city at night for travellers and commuters to move in and out.


As the Nigerian Government battles to stem the tide of Coronavirus in the country, security operatives have continued to use the opportunity of the lockdown order put in place by government to extort and harass citizens.

For instance, the police in Ondo State have been accused of bribery and corruption after opening the borders into the city at night for travellers and commuters to move in and out.

Senior Special Assistant to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Doyin Odebowale, who toured some towns in the state, accused security operatives manning the roads of allowing people to come into the state at night.

Last week, no fewer than 50 Kano State-bound vehicles from Lagos were seized by the State Special Taskforce for breaching the lockdown order put in place by government.

SaharaReporters gathered that owners of the vehicles filled with dozens of passengers had ‘settled’ security operatives manning the road before being allowed to pass through. 

Also, residents of Idanre complained that policemen were opening the border in Ofosu area to allow travellers come into Ondo State from Edo and Kogi.

While this is going on, the police are also carrying out illegal arrests in some of the local towns.

For instance, in Ore area of Ondo State, several sources confirmed that immediately anyone was arrested, they were taken to a corner and asked to pay a certain amount of money or threatened to be taken to the station by the policemen on duty.

In Ekiti, the case is not different but residents have decided to act after noticing that the security agencies were turning a blind eye to the influx of people into the state through border towns. 

Residents of Ikere Ekiti have taken it upon themselves to block major roads to ensure vehicles don’t come in or move out of the state through the town.

One resident, who spoke with our correspondent, alleged that policemen collect a bribe of between N1500 and N3000 from vehicles carrying passengers depending on the number of persons on board.

“They open the road at night because nobody is watching them and everyone would have been in their houses.

“So, if you have N1, 500 they would allow you to pass. One of my cousins came into the town on Saturday night from Edo,” he said.

Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone XI, Osogbo, Osun State, Mr Bashir Makama, had last week warned officers manning border towns to shun unprofessional conducts or face disciplinary action.

Despite the warning, security operatives are using the lockdown window to molest and torture citizens at the slightest opportunity especially persons, who don’t have money to ‘settle’ them.

In Osun State, two policemen enforcing the lockdown order were caught on camera assaulting a woman identified as Tola Azeez, who had gone out to buy drugs for her relative at a pharmacy near her house in Iwo town.

Also, a broadcast journalist in Ondo State, Mr Jide Bello, was assaulted by soldiers while returning home from work.

Bello revealed that the soldiers from the 32 Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Owena Barracks, beat him up despite identifying himself as a journalist.

He said, “They harassed and beat me up and didn’t even allow me to explain myself. 

“It took the intervention of a superior officer for me to be released by the soldiers.”

As if that was not enough, a medical doctor, Adeyemi Osowe, was brutalised by Special Anti-Robbery Squad and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel in Akure while returning from emergency duty at the hospital.

Adeyemi, who spoke about his experience, observed that most of the security operatives enforcing the lockdown and stay-at-home order needed to be properly trained on how to handle civilians at a time like this.

Speaking with SaharaReporters, Commissioner of Police in Ondo State, Undie Adie, said the command had received a lot of complaints including torture of civilians.

He said some of the policemen committing the act had been identified and would soon be sanctioned.

He said, “As security operatives, we should not add more pains to the ones the people are already going through by our brutal, tortious and incivility to citizens.”