…Let him prove it, says PPRO to RULAAC boss

Juliana Francis

The Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma, has expressed anger over the extortion of N200,000 from the distressed wife of a suspect before her husband could be granted bail.

According to Nwanguma, it was vexing that the Commander in charge of Tiger Base in Imo State Police Command extorted the woman of such an amount of money even though RULAAC stepped into the matter, asking that the man should be granted bail since he did not commit any crime.

Nwanguma said: “In all of the cases where I got the Commander to intervene and despite finding that the allegations were unfounded, the Unit still extorted money before releasing innocent people from unlawful detention.

“There was a case of two young men who were arrested at an ATM gallery in  Owerri while they went to withdraw cash. Despite the Commander personally telling me that the young men were ‘arrested in error’, in his own words, they still extorted money to release them after they had tortured and injured them to admit to being cultists.”

In this latest incident, the distraught woman had contacted RULAAC narrating how her husband was arrested and detained incommunicado and was only released after she and her relatives coughed up N200,000.

Nwanguma, while talking about the incident said the woman explained to him that her husband begged RULAAC to intervene to get her husband released from Tiger Base detention.

According to her, her husband was held at Tiger Base Anti-Kidnapping Unit for days and the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) in charge of the case was one Asuquo Ubong.

Nwanguma: “The woman told me that her husband, two weeks ago was asked by their lawyer to come to the police station, to the Unit that handles fraud. When he got there, he was asked to write his statement concerning all that transpired between him and one Nelson.

“He was also asked to tender any evidence with him to support his statement. I was made to understand that the man had a business dealing with Nelson and his wife Florina.

“The distressed woman told RULAAC that Florina and Nelson wanted the suspect to join the business, but the man found it was fraudulent and stopped investing. He then wanted a refund of the money he had earlier invested, but the couple kept lying, saying they couldn’t pay back.

“The suspect then found out that these couple, Florina and Nelson were living large and decided to get his lawyer to charge the matter to court.

“But while the suspect and his wife were waiting to get Florina and Nelson charged to court, Florina suddenly came with policemen from the Anti-kidnapping Unit, Tiger Base to the home of the suspect by 6:30 am to arrest the suspect. The wife said that since then Tiger Base has refused to grant her husband bail.”

Following her allegation, Nwanguma reached out to the Officer in charge of Anti-Kidnapping and the Public Relations Officer of Imo State Police Command.

After several back and forth, the OC in charge of Tiger Base, otherwise called the Commander instructed that the man should be granted bail.

Nwanguma expressed displeasure over the manner the Unit handled the case, explaining to security that he would later find out that the Unit asked the woman to go and bring N500,000 if she wanted her husband to be granted bail.

She pleaded with them to collect N100,000 but the police refused, she was forced to go to her husband’s family members and friends, who came to plead with the Commander, and he then reluctantly accepted a sum of N200,000 before granting the man bail.

According to Nwanguma, Police collecting money for bail was wrong, but it was worse when police repeatedly kept arresting and extorting people despite knowing that these ‘suspects’ were innocent of the crimes they were arrested for.

He said that it was high time that Civil Society Organisations started calling out policemen who extort Nigerians under whatever guise.

When our reporter reached out to the Imo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Mr Henry Okoye on the extortion allegation against the Tiger Base Commander, he responded: “He that alleged should prove.”

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