- A viral photo has captured the moment some corrupt policemen in Imo collected N10,000 from journalists
- After finding nothing incriminating, the heavily-armed officers had threatened to frame the journalists if they didn’t pay up
- The president of the association the journalists belong to stated that the money was deliberately given to nail the policemen
- He added that a petition would be sent to the Imo state commissioner of police and other relevant authorities
Journalists attending a media convention in Imo have accused some policemen attached to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of collecting N10,000 bribe from them, Punch reports.
The officers, led by a certain Inspector Uche, harassed the journalists, who are members of the Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria, and threatened to frame them if they refused to part with the money.
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Legit.ng notes that a photo of the alleged incident showing a policeman at the back seat of a vehicle collecting what appeared like wads of N1,000 notes from one of the victims, has been posted on social media, and has gone viral.
The policemen accosted the journalists as they were heading to a motor park from where they would board a vehicle to Lagos state, after attending the conference.
One of the journalists, George Williams, who was driving his colleagues, stated: “They were heavily armed. The inscription, Anti-Cultist Unit, was written on the black shirts they wore. They requested my driving licence and other vehicle particulars, which I gave them.
“They asked us to enter the vehicle and follow them to their office at the SCIID, claiming that we were still under investigation. I asked them investigation for what, but they did not respond.
“When we got to their office, they searched us and my vehicle. Nothing incriminating was found. They left us for about 15 minutes. I met with one of them and told him I was a journalist and that my colleagues were returning to Lagos.
“Their team leader, Inspector Uche, said I should let the police do their job. He said my number plate’s papers were not original and I told him that the documents were issued by the government. He then said, ‘When you come to the police, you bring kola; when the police come to you, you give kola.’
“Eventually, they said if we did not want to go to jail, we should bring N10,000. They said they can level any criminal allegation against us. I told them that I didn’t have cash. They said I should use an Automated Teller Machine or transfer the money to their account. I said I did not do transfers.”
The journalist then stated that he and some colleagues went to withdraw the money, as one of them stayed behind with the policemen. He added that the viral photo was taken as the money was being given to the policemen.
He stated further: “This morning (Monday), I got a call from a man who claimed to be calling from a police station in Aba, Abia state. He asked me if I was okay with what my colleague did. I told him I didn’t understand what he meant. He said I should be expecting more calls from him and his colleagues. I was trying to ask him what he meant by that when he cut the call.”
Williams’ story was corroborated by one of his colleagues, Juachi Ochu.
He stated: “We pleaded with them to let us go as we are law-abiding citizens, but all our pleas fell on deaf ears. The inspector threatened to put us in detention and indict us for a criminal offence if we didn’t give them the money. I was held at the station while my colleagues went to the ATM to make a withdrawal.”
The president of OMPAN, James Anyenakwa, said the matter would be taken up by the association in order to ensure that the bribe-taking policemen were brought to book.
Anyenakwa disclosed that the money was deliberately given to nail the policemen; and that a petition would be sent to the Imo state Commissioner of Police and other relevant authorities.
He stated: “It is unacceptable that security agents would harass any of our members in the course of their legitimate duty as journalists for any reason. They were searched, their papers were presented and nothing incriminating was found on them.
“However, security operatives, who are supposed to protect them, decided to harass and extort money from them. They threatened to detain them throughout the Easter period if they refused to part with some money.
“Because they (the victims) needed credible evidence of what happened, they decided to play along and paid the money. We have all the evidence. We insist that those law enforcement officers be brought to book. We need to know that this government is fighting corruption.”
The state police public relations officer did not respond to text messages sent to him.
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In a related development, Legit.ng previously reported that a female police officer was filmed harassing a bus driver for allegedly refusing to pay a stipulated bribe of N50, after he was stopped on the streets of Ikotun, Lagos state.
An aggrieved Facebook user shared the story of how the bus driver was harassed by the policewoman, around the Ikotun area of Lagos state, for allegedly refusing to part with the money.
Even though there were two police officers present, the plain clothed officer insisted on holding onto the driver despite shouts from onlookers for her to let go.
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