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Activist tackles police over extortion

Accuses cops of arresting, collecting N700,000 from businessman

Daniel Anokwuru

A human rights activist and Director General, Behind Bars, Gwamnishu Emefiena Harrison, has accused the Delta State Police Command of working with POS operators in the state to extort innocent citizens.

According to him, Safer Highway police officers are in the habit  of abducting citizens and extorting huge sums of money from them.  He explained the officers would arrest suspects and force them to transfer money to them through POS operators.

Harrison disclosed that his group had identified the officers that extorted N700,000 from a Delta State-based businessman through POS and reported them to the police command, prompting their arrest.

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Harrison stated that the victim was returning from Warri to Asaba when the incident occurred.

“The businessman was returning from Warri to Asaba when he was arrested during stop and search by some policemen. They searched his bag and saw female underwear, soap and other personal effects. The man explained to them that the items belonged to his wife. They called him a ritualist, seized his phone and started going through his phones and saw some bank transactions. They denied him access to speak with his wife to verify his claim. They dragged him into a car treated him like a criminal, drove him round the lonely road of Warri, Abraka, Agbor and arrived Umunede, Delta State, with threats of killing him unless he bailed himself. He was released after he paid N700,000 through POS. they deleted the debit SMS alert from his phone, clicked on factory reset and cleared his phone memory.”

He said they had made all necessary arrangements to retrieve the N700,000 from the police.

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He said: “This is a national issue that needs urgent attention. The poor Nigerians struggling are the people affected. You arrest a citizen, deny him access to communication, deprive him of his liberty and force him to pay. This is a criminal act and should be addressed urgently. We will be receiving the money from the police,” he vowed.

The activist confirmed that they had received N715,000 from the police and returnedit to the victim. He noted that while N700,000 was retrieved from the police officers,  the POS operator refunded N15,000, which he had charged as service fee.

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Harrison disclosed that he was put under pressure by his townsfolk, who wanted him to drop the case. He added that N200,000, was paid into his account by a man he had great regard for, as inducement to forget the matter but that he promptly returned the money to sender.

“This is the sixth case we are handling in the month of September and may not be the last. It is the duty of the citizens to report and follow up. The victim is ready to press charges and we are with him till the end. This service is free as we did not collect any percentage from him,” the activist added.

When the reporter contacted the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), for Delta State Command, DSP, Onome Onovwakpoyeya, she confirmed the development.

According to her, the officers involved had been quizzed and the money returned.

She said: “The officers are undergoing disciplinary action. That they extorted money and refunded it does not mean that the police will not take action against them.”