Cases of police harrassment, extortion and killing of commercial motorcyclists over refusal to offer bribe still rampant across the country.

noprin logoNetwork on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) is constrained to bring to the attention of the Inspector General of Police and the National Human Rights Commission the increasing number of reports and complaints it has received across the country concerning the harassment, extortion and killing of commercial motorcycle operators  over refusal to offer bribe.

NOPRIN has just sent a communication to the DPO Umuebulu, Rivers state concerning the information it received today  that one Mr. Uko from Ikot Antuk in Abak  lga Akwa Ibom a commercial motorcyclist who resides and operates in Umuebulu-  married with  3 kids; and another,  one Mr. Christopher a school bus driver with Blessed Child International School, Umuebulu were shot by police officers attached to Umuebulu Police Station about 8pm yesterday. We are told that police opened fire when the okada riders resisted attempts by the police to arrest their member for refusing to offer bribe. Mr. Christopher was said to have later  died in the hospital today. Okada riders in Umuebulu are said to be restive over daily demand of 50 naira bribe from them by the police. Many other okada riders who attempted to protest the Police shooting of their members were said to have been arrested and currently detained at Umuebulu police station in detention. We are informed that harassment and extortion of okada riders by police officers in Umuebulu is routine. Police give them numbers each day to identify those who have made their compulsory daily ‘contribution’.

In a response through SMS, to NOPRIN’s inquiry, the  DPO Umuebulu said: ‘

‘It is a pity dat people talk about  police as if , it is abomination to be a police office any way tanx for giving d full name of d okada man. God bless u .my dear  d driver is alive   d story was wrong , my men were nt there, whn  d riot started . D whole thing was caused by a serious motor Accident b/w d bus man nd d okada rider. If u want me  to speak ,  seek permission from my Commissioner pls be Good.’

On December 6, 2013 in Onitsha, Anambra State a police man known as Chijioke (also known as Prince) and attached to Habo Police Post, Atani Road killed a 28 year-old Anayo Opara  by lifting him up and hitting his head on the ground at the police station. The young man became instantly paralysed and died the next day as no hospital in Onitsha could handle his case.

The young man went  to the police station to ask for bail for his elder brother Chizoba Opara (32) who was arrested and detained the previous day by the policeman  because his motorbike had no papers. The IPO demanded thirty thousand naira which Anayo’s wife  and Chizoba said they did not have.

After pleading with the IPO to no avail, Anayo left the counter uttering some grudging words. Feeling that Anayo had called his bluff, the IPO went after him, pulled him back from behind by the belt,  lifted him up and hit his head on the ground and he lost consciousness.

The killer policeman was arrested and – as at the last time NOPRIN spoke with the Anambra State Police PRO Emeka Chukwuemeka- detained at the Anambra State Police Headquarters awaiting orderly room trial. The case is
stalled because the family cannot afford the money demanded by the IPO Inspector Nwakonobi of the State CID Awka for autopsy.

Constrained by poverty and fear, the family appears to be succumbing to persuasion from  the family members of the killer-policeman to ‘settle’ with them.

There were reports in some national dailies today that Commercial motorcycle operators (okada riders) in Idimu Lagos have cried out over constant police harassment and extortion. The operators have accused the police of turning them into ‘automated teller machines (ATM).’

A near confrontation between the police and okada riders at Solomon Durodola street, Unity estate, Idimu was reported  today.

Members of Amalgamated Commercial Motorcyclists and Riders Association (ACOMORAN)n Unity Estate branch, Idimu were reported to have resisted attempts by the policemen posted to the area to impound their motorcycles over their refusal to give them money which they frequently demand from them.

They have called on the Lagos state Government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko to come to their rescue as men of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and Operation attack of the State Police Command extort money from them on daily basis.

The chairman of Zone 2 of the union at the Unity estate, Mr. Jonathan Offiah was quoted as saying that his members were tired of the incessant extortion by the police.

‘We were banned from operating on the major roads in the state and we have left the highways, why are the police still after us?’

‘Every month, we pay the police 10,000 naira. But we do not know what they do with the money they collect from us’.

According to reports, this is not limited to the Unity Estate alone. Commercial motorcyclists operating around Seliat Street, have a similar complain.

The Chairman of the Seliat Unit of the Union. Mr. Abel Ojo was quoted as saying that the situation was becoming unbearable.

‘We give so much to the police. How much do we make from picking passengers from one place to another? Some of us are family men who have wives and children in the university’.

‘Each time the police come to our park, all they are after is the money they want to collect from us. They don’t want to know if we have money or not; all they are interested in is to get the money each time they come’.

‘We have a record of the different police outfits that come to extort money from us, including OPPS ATTACKS and the RRS men’.

NOPRIN calls on the IGP and the NHRC to investigate these cases and ensure that the police officers involved in- or condoning- corrupt practices, killing and abuses are brought to book.

The IGP should make it clear that such abuses and misconduct will not be tolerated in the Nigeria Police.

Government must ensure proper funding and budgetary allocation to the police to discourage resort to extortion and associated abuses as means of augmenting their poor pay and generating funds for operations.

Nwanguma Okechukwu,
National Coordinator