A recent allegation by a Delta State-based rights advocate that an Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the Rivers State Criminal Investigation Department claimed that he shared the N80million seized by the police from a pipeline surveillance contractor with top officers at the Force Headquarters in Abuja and the state police command, has put the Inspector General of Police on the spot, Ejiofor Alike reports
Barely three weeks after cultists murdered the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ahoada Division in Rivers State, SP Bako Angbashim, in a most gruesome manner, the state police command is in the news again.
However, unlike the news of the killing of the DPO, which sparked nationwide outrage and elicited sympathy for the police due to his exceptional display of gallantry in tackling acts of criminalities in the state, the latest reports of allegation of extortion against top officers of the force in the state has scandalised the entire police hierarchy.
Despite the efforts of the police authorities to remove the bad eggs from the force, some of the operatives, including very senior officers, have continued to act like common criminals.
It beats the imaginations of many Nigerians how some police officers managed to rise to senior positions with their criminal tendencies and unprofessional conducts.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Prince Olumuyiwa Adejobi, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) announced recently that the Monitoring Unit of the Inspector-General of Police (IG) had commenced an investigation into the allegation of extortion levelled against the Rivers State Police Command following a petition by a Delta State-based rights advocate, Israel Joe.
In the petition, Joe accused the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), in charge of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCIB), and two other officers of extorting N80 million from a surveillance contractor, Atubi Davison John.
Joe, in the petition dated September 21, said the police on September 14, 2023, invaded Davison’s residence at Peace Avenue Road, Egbelu, in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, searched the house and carted away local and foreign currencies totalling N100 million meant for payment for men securing pipeline facilities in Niger Delta.
The activist said the police also took away two cars, and gold necklace, and arrested four persons seen in Davison’s house, including a female. He said that despite an investigation showing that the money was for payment of securing an oil facility, it was not returned.
But Adejobi said the police were interrogating the officers who according to the petitioner, claimed that they would give the sum of N30 million to the Inspector General of Police (IG), Olukayode Egbetokun, and N16 million to the Rivers State Commissioner of Police (CP), Polycarp Abonyi, out of the booty.
Trouble began for the surveillance sub-contractor when he reportedly showed his friend the balance of about N100 million he allegedly made after paying his boys, which he kept in his house.
Shortly after showing his friend the money, his house was allegedly invaded by a team of heavily-armed policemen who were allegedly shouting, ‘where is the money?’
After taking him along with a huge chunk of the money to the Cyber Crime Unit in Port Harcourt, the policemen allegedly took him back to his home, demanding for the rest of the money, which they collected from the ceiling.
In the petition to the IG, Joe said, “I met with the Assistant Commissioner, State CIID, and asked him what are you investigating the man for; the ACP told me that it is for an alleged kidnap case that he doesn’t know if somebody will come and report that his money is missing or is a ransom money, that all they need to do is to see how they can manage the situation that the money is about N100 million.”
Joe further disclosed that the police later released the two cars and asked Davison to manage any amount they would release to him because they were going to send N30 million to the IG, and N16 million to the state CP.
“At the end of the day, they (the policemen) released the two cars; they released the Chevrolet and Toyota Camry car to him, released only N12 million to him and took away a whopping N80 million along with his gold chain valued about N4 million, the two plasma television, shoes and clothes they carried from his house.”
But in a swift reaction, the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Grace Iringe-Koko, who denied the allegations, said Davison’s inability to provide a satisfactory account for the source of the money, led to his transfer to the SCID for further investigation.
“However, it came to light that the suspect had a urinary catheter in his stomach, necessitating a medical assessment.”
She said Davison’s father acted as his surety and also requested financial assistance for his son’s medical needs.
“The Deputy Commissioner of Police granted a partial release of the funds on compassionate grounds for the suspect’s healthcare, while the remaining amount was meticulously documented and entrusted to the exhibit keeper.
“Additionally, a gold necklace, reportedly obtained from an undisclosed woman, was also registered with the exhibit keeper.”
The statement was, however, silent on the exact amount confiscated or registered with the exhibit keeper and the amount they gave to the accused, and these have aroused suspicion that the police were hiding something.
However, in his reaction, Adejobi noted that to ensure fairness and impartiality, the complainant who made the allegations would be contacted to come forward and cooperate by providing more relevant information regarding the matter.
The Rivers State Police Command has gained notoriety for impunity and alleged acts of criminalities, including abductions and extortions.
Early last month, the state police command arrested four police officers who allegedly abducted three men and extorted N6.5 million from them.
The four policemen were said to have arrested the men from Omoluwabi in the Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government Area of the state, tagged them Internet fraudsters and ferried them to Delta State where they reportedly collected the money from them after detaining them for two days.
The state Commissioner of Police, Nwonyi, who paraded the four officers, also paraded another set of four policemen, including three inspectors arrested for allegedly assaulting a female commuter.
He said the policemen were on a stop-and-search operation when they allegedly assaulted the lady around Arcania Junction, Ada George Road in Port Harcourt.
Since his assumed office, Egbetokun has taken deliberate steps to rid the police of criminal elements that tarnish the image of the force.
Under Egbetokun’s watch, the police have purged itself of criminal elements more than any other security agency in the country but the bad elements are still unrelenting.
The IG should expand the scope of the ongoing investigation to other state police commands to fish out the unscrupulous elements who drop his name as a cover to commit all kinds of atrocities against the members of the public.