They are paid to watch over citizens, to protect lives and property. But three police officers in Lagos are accused of turning against citizens they are paid to watch, and transforming to robbers who dispossess citizens of their property. The Police in Lagos announced with apparent shame and utter embarrassment on Thursday the arrest of three of its officers for robbery. Oche Andrew, 23, a constable attached to the FESATC Police Division, and two other officers, whose names were not disclosed because they were still being interrogated, were nabbed for allegedly robbing a Taiwanese.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Sulaiman Abba, who paraded the officers before journalists, said the cops were lured by a gang of armed robbers to rob a Taiwanese in a hotel at Raji Rasaki Road in the FESTAC area of the city. The suspects, Mr Abba said, were arrested by a team of anti-robbery patrol officers on April 6 as they were committing the crime.
Mr. Abba said he was publicizing the officers’ arrest to send a signal to his men that he would not shield personnel who give the police a bad name.
“When a civilian commits a crime, our duty is to arrest and prosecute such civilian,” he said. “Also when one of us also engages in crime, we have our method of discipline; such officer will be taken to an orderly room, dismissed if found guilty and prosecuted.”
The suspect speaks
Looking morose, Mr Andrew, who was in handcuff, told journalists he was lured into the crime. Narrating his own side of the story to journalists, the police officer said, “I was deployed to work near the hotel owned by the Taiwanese. So that was where I met Chinedu. Chinedu told me that his boss the Taiwanese was owing him money for a Mercedes Benz car and his boss refused to pay him. He said I should use my office as a police man to go and threaten his boss so that we can collect the money, so I told Chinedu that I cannot do it alone so he went to invite another officer.
“On that fateful day, I was in mufti and he told me that my job was to stand outside. They were the ones who went inside and I did not know what happened. The next thing, policemen came and arrested us; so that was how I learnt that Chinedu was actually going to rob his boss. I feel bad because it was an illegal duty and I did not book it in the office. Now it has landed me in trouble.”
Another suspect confesses
One of the two other suspects – Chinedu Steven, 26 – arrested in connection with the crime (the other is Ikechukwu Nebo, 36) however confessed his role in the incident. He punctured Mr. Andrew’s claim, saying all participants in the crime were aware of the plan to rob the Taiwanese. He told probing journalists, “I have been working at the Hurricane Ventures as a salesman for close to two years now,” Mr. Steven said. “The Taiwanese is my boss and I invited the policemen and other guy to rob my boss. What my boss pays me is not enough, he gives me commissions on sales and it is not enough, so they were all aware of the robbery.”
Mr. Abba said the suspects would soon be charged to court.