By Izunna Okafor, Awka


The massive extortion, exploitation and molestation by some men and officers of the Nigeria Police, Anambra State Command, have been exposed, with clarion call for urgent action and intervention by the State's Commissioner of Police, CP Echeng Echeng and other concerned authorities.

A concerned citizen, journalist and social media user, Franklin Chukwuebuka who took an investigative tour to the said checkpoint, exposed the ill and corrupt practices of the officers, who do not only feast on the pedestrians and other road users, but also subject them to unnecessary molestations and delays, while also milking them, all in the name of ‘stop and search’.

It was learnt that the money-minded officers position very close to Amawbia Roundabout in Awka, where they also mounted roadblocks with an original intent to provide airtight security to the State's Police Command Headquarters and the Governor's Lodge, which are both located in the area.

It was also gathered that the officers had long converted the roadblocks to a tollgate and a money-making venture, as they now allow people, especially motorists pass through the road, ONLY on the condition of settling them, thereby equally compromising the original rationale behind the roadblocks. This has allegedly been the practice since about a year or two now that the road was blocked, despite series of calls and litigations to remove the roadblocks, which have not been adhered to.

By Franklin's first-hand information, it could be rightly confirmed that the officers have added a new department to their venture, as they now feast on both unsuspecting pedestrians and other members of the public they site close to their ‘tollgate’ and the entire environ, especially those who carry bags.

According to him, the officers would haphazardly call/invite any pedestrian they site anywhere around the Roundabout, especially those carrying any type of bag, including cellophane bag, including manual labourers with their bags of tools or travellers who are probably going to board a vehicle in any of the motor parks in the area.

He said when the person heeds to their invitation and goes to answer them, they would either start by searching the person's phone or immediately unpacking the contents of the person's bag to the public glare, irrespective of what is inside, be it female underwear; and after that, they would engage the person in price negotiation for settlement, without which he would not be freed.

He further revealed that some of the cops even collect money by transfer, if their prospective victims claim not to have enough cash to ‘settle’ them.

Captioned “Abomination and grand extortion at Amawbia roundabout”, Franklin's post reads: “I used to thank God that the sort of police molestation and extortion reported in Lagos doesn't happen in Anambra State, until we witnessed the unparalleled extortion and molestation happening at Amawbia roundabout by the policemen stationed there to safeguard the state police headquarters.

“What ordinarily meant to be a security check to inspire confidence in the people has become a terror to them. Transist policemen have turned the base of the roundabout to abuse centre.

“Passers-by, particularly people carrying any kind of bag, including cellophane, are called to the base of the roundabout, searched and extorted.

“Victims are extorted as the spirit leads the perpetrators — N200, N500, N5,000, N40,000, just to mention the amounts already known. They even request electronic transfer of money.

“What is more irksome about this is that some of the victims are detained, their phones searched and ceased momentarily. The policemen do not only search the bags of victims; they unpack the contents to the public glare, even women's underwear. This is not ‘they said’; I played into their hands to confirm my observations. I watched them con and extort two tilers, even when it was evident that they were apparently going to a site.

“I don't want to talk about the exchange of money that goes between them and drivers in order to permit them use the blocked road. People who own businesses around the areas and a few passers-by confirmed that this has been going on for a while and it happens brazenly from morning till night.

“A business owner confided in me that a young man was extorted of N40,000 few days ago, but that the money was recovered after his elder sister intervened by calling some police officers. This is not how to go. From my interaction with some business owners there, they are only waiting for the day the people will revolt.

“If the state police command is not aware of this unacceptable conduct, this is a clarion call on the police authorities in Anambra State to stop this ugly trend. These men cannot continue to soil the police and expect a change of people's attitude towards the police.”

It would be recalled that there had earlier been series of reports about extortion and unnecessary snarl-up caused by some soldiers of the Nigerian Army who mounted a checkpoint along the Amawbia—Nise Road, also close to the Amawbia Roundabout, which is the operational base of these extortive police officers.

When contacted on Thursday for his reaction, the State's Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga promised to issue a written statement and reaction on the issue, but never did, as at the time of this publication.

Izunna Okafor writes from Awka, Anambra State capital

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