Residents, including commercial motorcycle riders in Somolu area of Lagos State, have accused policemen of constant harassment and extortion.
The residents accused the policemen attached to Alade Police Station of high-handedness and called on the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko, to intervene.
A commercial motorcycle rider, Sunday Joel, said he was recently admitted in hospital after being brutalised by policemen.
He said, “On Sunday, I was riding my motorcycle on Market Street when a group of policemen accosted me. As I attempted to evade arrest, one of the policemen used a metal to hit me in the mouth while I was on high speed; my tooth immediately fell out while my lips got torn.
“I’m not the only one that is suffering this injustice. Most times whenever they arrest an okada rider, they collect between N10,000 and N15,000 before returning it to him and these days policemen just arrest you on almost every street in Somolu.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that it was not only okada riders were falling victim to extortion. Residents alleged that policemen in mufti moved around in commercial buses and made arrests indiscriminately.
Some of the residents, who were recently arrested, told our correspondent that they parted with at least N5,000 each before they were released.
A resident, who identified himself simply as Wasiu, said his 14-year-old nephew was arrested by the policemen for unknown reasons and remained in custody for four days.
He said, “On December 8, 2012, I had just returned from church with my family but around 8pm, my nephew sneaked out to play videogame on Anifowose Street and policemen arrested him. For two days we were searching for him to no avail.
“It was later that a resident, who was released from the station, told us that my nephew was in detention. We went to beg the police and even explained to them that he is a teenager. They initially said we should bring N15, 000 but they later settled for N5,000.”
Another resident, who was recently arrested, said the policemen hardly allowed those arrested to write statements or record the incident at the counter of the station.
The resident, who identified himself only as Olawale, said the policemen usually made arrests between 7pm and midnight and usually threatened to transfer ‘un-cooperative’ suspects to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
He said, “I went to buy suya on Market Street opposite my house when some policemen in a commercial bus ordered me into the vehicle. When I asked them to state my offence, they said they would explain to me when I got to the station.
“On our way to the station, two other people were arrested. We were about 11 in all that were arrested and taken to the station. On getting there, a senior officer said N5,000 should be collected from each person and we should be released.
“The officer said, ‘this is Christmas season, let them pay N5,000 each and be released. Then go out and make more arrests.’ I was released at 3am after paying the money while those who opposed the policemen were beaten up and detained.”
A 16-year-old girl, Omotola Falolu, told our correspondent that she was arrested for standing in front of her compound on Oluwalogbon Street.
She said, “Around 11pm last Wednesday, it was hot inside and I just stood outside the compound, talking with a neighbour when policemen accosted us. I told them that I was in front of my house but they did not listen.
“I spent two days in detention before they released me. The policemen refused to state my offence.”
Another resident, Adewale, who said he was arrested on Craig Street, said despite showing the policemen his identity card, he was still arrested and made to pay N5,000 before he was released.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the state police command, Ngozi Braide, said she was not aware of police extortion in the area but added that it was not in the habit of the police to do so.