By Kenechukwu Madukaife
A mother of two, Blessing Taiwo, has cried to the new Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Edgal Imohimi, to save her from the hands of officer of the anti-kidnapping unit of the command, who she alleged are still threatening her after detaining her in a cell with robbers and kidnappers.
Taiwo also alleged that the police collected N50,000 for her bail and have seized her phone, insisting that she must pay a balance of N20,000 to make up the N70,000 demanded.
The victim, who spoke through an NGO, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIM), also wants the CP to look into the allegation by her sister who was sexually molested each time she brought food for her while in detention.
National Coordinator of NOPRIN, Mr Okechukwu Nwangwuma, in a petition to CP Imohimi, said: “NOPRIN requests the CP Lagos to order a prompt and impartial investigation of criminal allegations against the Officer in Charge (OC), Anti-Kidnapping Squad, Lagos State Police Command and other unscrupulous officers under him.
“On August 31, 2017, Juliana Francis, Crime Editor at New Telegraph Newspapers, Lagos received a call from her colleague, Juliana Taiwo Obalonye, also a journalist with The Sun Newspapers, who informed her that her sister, Blessing, a single mother of two, was arrested and detained since August 29, 2017 on the allegation that she stole $50,000 belonging to her colleague, Mrs Abiola Ojo Osagie with whom she had worked for 10 years. Mrs. Abiola Osagie claimed that she left the $50,000 in a bag in her office and traveled for three weeks.
“When Mrs Osagie returned, she didn’t check the bag for some days and when she eventually checked, she discovered that the money was gone and she immediately accused Blessing because she had a key to the office and was in charge of delegating people to sweep that office.
“Osagie reported the matter at Ikoyi Police Station and Blessing was arrested on August 29 2017. The Investigating Police Officer (IPO), after investigation, which included a search on Blessing’s home and a check on her bank account, the DPO advised that Blessing should be allowed to go.
“Not satisfied with the DPO’s investigation and advice, Osagie allegedly asked the DPO to ‘make Blessing confess’ to the crime, but the DPO made it clear to her that torture is not part of investigation in his station.
“Osagie then took the matter to the Anti-Kidnapping and Cultism Unit of the Lagos State Police Command under the charge of Mr. Adejobi, with one Igbin as IPO and OC Anti Kidnapping Section ordered that Blessing be locked up among suspected cultists and kidnappers.
“Blessing spent most of her hours in the cell crying, with her children left in the care of neighbours. The OC Anti-Kidnapping Unit stated that Blessing was culpable and refused entreaties to grant her bail or charge her to court. He persistently ignored requests and pleas from Blessing’s relatives as well as interventions by journalists and other concerned individuals, to grant Blessing bail or charge her to court. The Area ‘C’ Commander and a retired DSS official also called the OC, yet he refused to budge.
“At this point, Juliana Frances called the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Olarinde Famous-Cole, who told her that he had spoken about the case with Adejobi, but he still refused to yield.
“On September 1, 2027, Blessing’s family was asked to go and look for two people with valid passports, N2million in bank account, property that has certificate of occupancy (C of O) to take Blessing on bail. The policemen also demanded N70, 000 as part of the conditions for bail. Blessing’s sister, Folake said they had to run around to raise the money but were only able to raise N50, 000 and the OC refused to grant her bail, insisting that the money must be complete.
“She alleged that after much pleading, the OC eventually ‘granted Blessing bail’, but held unto her mobile phone and said they would only release the phone on September 5, if she comes with the balance of N20, 000.
“Juliana Taiwo, Blessing’s sister made further shocking revelation that their younger sister, Florence, who was taking food to Blessing while in custody, said that each time she went to the station to give her food, a policeman (instead of a police woman) would ‘search’ her. They would ask her to strip naked and would be fumbling her breasts and putting their hands inside her private part. It was a different policeman that groped her each time. She was crying while revealing this to her sister, explaining that she didn’t want to reveal this until her sister, Blessing, was released from custody.
“One of those policemen who subjected Florence to sexual abuse and degrading treatment has the temerity to be calling her, asking her to meet him somewhere.
“NOPRIN is shocked at the impunity with which the OC Anti – Kidnapping unit assumed the role of investigator, prosecutor and executioner. He has shown obvious interest and bias in this case. The conduct of the OC manifests notoriety for corruption and abuse of police power. He is also a bad influence on other officers under him.
“That the OC could continue to unjustifiably detain Blessing beyond the duration permitted by law without showing any evidence of her culpability and refusing all entreaties to either grant her bail or charge her to court, is a clear demonstration of abuse of police powers and violation of the victim’s constitutional rights further elaborated by the Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2011.
“In the first place, a case of stealing ought not to be taken to or investigated by the Anti-Kidnapping Unit but because the complainant and the OC probably have some personal things in common, the OC decided to do her illegal biddings, which the DPO at Ikoyi professionally refused to do.
“NOPRIN calls for a prompt investigation of these acts of misconduct and infractions of the law by the OC Ant kidnapping and some officers under him- as clearly itemised in this petition. “