By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
Rule of Law Accountability and Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) is demanding justice for citizens Michael Ekene Okonkwo (20) and Udo Chukwu Maduforo. Both are students of Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ikwo, Ebonyi State who were traveling back to their school from Lagos.
In a petition to the Commissioner of Police, Airport Police Command, Ikeja and signed by the group’s Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, the duo were on their way to the Lagos Local Airport, Ikeja where they were to board a flight back to their school on the 14th of August, 2021. The vehicle conveying them was stopped by a team of police officers in from of Golden Tulip Hotel on Airport Road.
Despite nothing incriminating was found on the boys and their continuous plea that they were students who wanted to catch their flight back to school and should be allowed to go for them not to miss their flight, the police refused to let them go.
The duo only regained their freedom when police had extorted the sum of N40,000 from them. But before then, they had missed their flight.In what the group describes as “an unconscionable act of wickedness that must not be swept under the carpet”, the boys had to incur extra cost to travel back to school.
According to the victims, ”they harassed us and collected money from us. They delayed us, and one of them pushed me on my face … They searched our bags and didn’t find anything (incriminating) in it but still yet didn’t listen to me after I showed my student ID to them”.
Part of the petition reads: “This is shocking for two reasons. That police officers trained and paid to serve and protect citizens could descend to holding students- young people who could be their children- to ransom and ignored their explanations that they are students going back to school and their plea to let them go – since they were not found with anything incriminating- so that they would not miss their flights. They robbed them of their money and made them miss their flight”.
It continued: “That in spite the current raging issue of police corruption and abuse of power which has again put Nigeria in the spotlight of international opprobrium, these officers could not be deterred or persuaded to minimise their greed for money acquired through extortion”.
RULAAC is demanding that (I)The Commissioner of Police, Airport Command, Ikeja identifies these despicable corrupt officers, ensures that they refund the total amount of money they extorted from these hapless students as well as refund the total cost of their tickets, which amounts to N186, 400;
(ii)The CP ensures that the officers involved in this criminal act which contravenes Police professional standards and which brings the image of the police to further disrepute be subjected to appropriate disciplinary measures in accordance with the police rules and regulations. This is important for deterrence;
(III)That the CP takes any further actions he deems necessary to remedy the violation of the rights of the students, reassure the victims and the general public that the command does not condone or tolerate corruption and abuse of police powers.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.