Four officials of the Rapid Response Squad (RSS), a special anti-robbery arm of the Lagos State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, were on Thursday night arrested for allegedly dispossessing a Bureau De Change operator of 20, 000 pounds (about N5.160 million) within the vicinity of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.
The RRS men, who came into the airport in two power motorcycles were said to have arrested the bureau de change operator while he was on errand for his boss, Alhaji Isiaka Tahir.
Mr. Tahir, who claimed that his staff was to deposit the money in a bank located on Allen Avenue, was attacked by the officers around 11am at the access gate of the airport.
He claimed that the RRS officers stopped his staff at the airport area and queried him on why he was riding a motorcycle without a registration number. His staff, he said, replied that he had just acquired the motorcycle.
Mr. Tahir said, “I sent my boy out on Thursday morning around 11 am to go to AfriBank Plc along Allen Avenue at Ikeja. So, as the boy was going, when he got to the access gate at the MMA, I put a call through to him that he should return, that I wanted to give him additional $450 for another customer at Allen Avenue, and as the boy made a u-turn at the access gate, some RRS officers stopped him and demanded why he was riding a motorcycle without a number plate.
“As he was trying to explain to the officers that the motorcycle was new and that it was the first time we were taking it out for work and that the plate number would be brought to our office today (Thursday), they refused and demanded to know the owner of the motorcycle.
“All this happened in the presence of the police officers at the access gate and they even intervened and told them to leave the boy that he’s a bureau de change operator. At that stage, they demanded for money from the boy, which he was trying to give them, and all of a sudden, they forcefully took the motorcycle from him and moved towards the Oshodi axis of the airport.
“But all this happened in the presence of one of the police men at the area, a corporal. One of the officers even threatened to deal with the corporal for intervening in the issue. However, a particular inspector was watching from far off and later had to intervened in the whole issue and even at that, they refused to produce the motorcycle until the inspector called the attention of one Assistant Superintendent of Police who ordered them to produce the motorcycle and said we should all go to the Hajj Camp police station with them.
“Unfortunately, as we were riding towards that direction, they diverted their own motorcycle and ran away from us, which baffled the inspector. At this juncture, the ASP directed us to go to Bessam Police Station to make a formal complaint to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr. Omololu Bishi and it was in the process of doing this that we sighted them again coming towards us at the Beesam Police Station with our own motorcycle, but when we saw them, we pursued them and caught up with them, but unfortunately, by the time we checked the compartment of the motorcycle, the money could no longer be found.”
Speaking on the issue, the Deputy Commissioner, Airport Police Command of the Nigeria Police Force, Mrs Bose Dawodu, who confirmed the arrest said investigations into the matter were underway.
Speaking on the arrest of his men, the RRS commander in Lagos, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, expressed dismay at the attitude of the officers.
He said the RRS were not supposed to operate within the airport environment, saying that it was beyond their jurisdiction.
Mr. Odumosu however said that he would investigate the allegations.
“What were they doing at the airport? It’s wrong for them to operate within the environment, but they can pass through the area. I can’t specifically confirm this allegation until we carry out our investigation into the matter,” he said.