Police extortion, shootings made youths attack station – Residents

Afeez Hanafi

Residents of Yakoyo, a border community between Lagos and Ogun states, say policemen from the Ojodu Abiodun Division are fond of extorting money from youths.

They said the alleged extortion and shooting of a resident, Dada Omotunde, made the youths to attack the police station.

PUNCH Metro had reported that a large number of angry youths stormed the station around 1pm on Sunday and destroyed property, including cars, television sets, and freed suspects in police cells.

The Ogun State Police Command, in its reaction, had said a team of operatives raided a black spot in the area during which hoodlums attacked the team.

The cops had reportedly shot to disperse them when bullets hit Dada.

However, residents of the area, who spoke to our correspondent on Tuesday, said the police’s claim was not true.

They explained that some policemen had raided a pitch at Gbadamosi Junction, Yakoyo, where youths were playing football.

A younger brother of the victim, Tunde Omotoye, said the policemen had asked some youths to submit their phones for checks.

He said when they refused, the policemen fired at them.

He said, “We were playing football around 12pm when the policemen came. They wanted to collect our phones and we fled. My brother was at my back. A policeman called Jerry fired bullets, which hit him in the nape and thigh. The policemen ran away. We later took my brother to their checkpoint along Alagbole in protest and they fled.

“Nobody was smoking on the pitch as the police claimed. This is not the first time they would raid our community. At times, they would pick us and lead us to banks to withdraw money for them with our ATM cards. Sometimes, they collect as much as N20,000 from a person. All these harassments prompted the youths to attack the police station.”

Tunde added that his brother was still in pains at Tomade Hospital where he was admitted.

A friend of Dada, Godwin Etim, explained that a team of policemen had earlier met with some suspected Internet fraudsters (Yahoo boys), who came to watch football that day and left after a chat with them.

He said, “I was part of those playing football that day and there was a crowd. Yahoo boys usually come around to watch football too. The first patrol team came, and the policemen talked to those guys and they left. About five minutes after that team left, another team of policemen came on motorcycles. People started running. Suddenly, we heard gunshots three times. Dada was shot in the process. Boys from neighbouring communities later attacked the police station. The police have been arresting people.”

Asked whether the scene of raid was a black spot as claimed by the police, he said, “That place is where boys normally gather. I will not lie to you; some people smoked Indian hemp on that day.”

Etim, however, lamented the shooting, adding that the police should have zeroed in on the smokers.

Another resident, who gave his name only as Isaac, claimed that he was unlawfully arrested sometime in November 2017 during a police raid.

 He said, “A boy was celebrating his birthday in the afternoon. I was at a confectionery shop close to the venue when about 12 policemen came. People fled, but the owner of the shop, an Hausa man, and I didn’t run because we were not smoking.

“One of the policemen came into the shop and beat me up. He said I was a thief. I was released around 9pm after my mother paid N5,000. Three other persons arrested paid between N15,000 and N25,000 before they were released.”

However, the Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Abimbola Oyeyemi, refuted the allegations against the police, saying they were attempts to justify the attack on the station.

He said some arrests had been made, while the policeman that shot the victim had been taken into custody.

He said, “How many of such cases (of extortion) have they reported to the police? The numbers of all top hierarchies of the police are available to report any policeman that violates the law so that appropriate action can be taken.

“They are just trying to justify their barbaric act. The people involved in the Sunday attack will be brought to book. It is wrong to attack a station because a policeman offends you. They went to the station with the aim of burning it and they removed police property. What they did was more of armed robbery.

“The policeman that shot the victim is undergoing orderly room trial and he will be brought to book. No policeman will do such a thing and go scot-free.”

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