Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, has bared his fangs against five policemen in the state command for allegedly demanding N50,000 from a truck driver carrying fairly used clothes.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that the five policemen (names withheld) were earlier listed for participation in the promotion course to sergeants.
They, however, lost the opportunity to rise to the next rank over the bribe saga as they have been demoted to constables. According to a police source, the five cops were out on illegal duty somewhere in Lagos when they intercepted a truck loaded with suspected contraband goods. They threatened to arrest him but he begged them to spare him, explaining that the items belonged to a female client. They then allegedly demanded N50,000 from him in order to allow him go scot-free.
The driver, however, disagreed, saying the clothes were not worth up to N50,000, thus there was no way he would cough up such an amount. The driver said that though he was used to settling policemen and Customs at border points, he had never had to give any of them up to N50, 000 bribe. He begged them to accept N10, 000, but the leader of the team was allegedly ada-mant, stressing that their area commander was already aware of the matter.
The policemen impounded the truck and clothes. However, the driver immediately contacted the owner of the clothes, who came to meet with them at an agreed point and offered to add N5000 to the bribe.
The policemen reportedly insisted on their demand. Thereupon, the woman called her brother, an Inspector, attached to Ila Mobile Training School, in Osun State. The mobile police officer pleaded with the team leader on phone, but he still refused to yield. The mobile policeman had to come down to Lagos from Osun and offered N10, 000 to the team but their leader declined to accept it.
Angry and frustrated, the inspector went straight to the Lagos State’s CP to report the matter. Owoseni then ordered the Officer in charge of X-Squad and Officer in charge of Provost Office in the command to handle the matter.
Speaking on the matter, a police source said, “The CP ordered both men to make sure they did everything possible to arrest the team. The two officers rubbed minds together and decided to trap the team leader with marked Naira notes.
They brought N50,000 with the notes marked and gave it to the woman to hand over to the team leader. “She called him on the telephone, saying she had brought the money. The team leader said he had closed for the day, but told the woman to wait. He then called a colleague and asked him to collect the N50,000 from the woman. He also instructed his colleague to hand the truck’s key to the driver after he had collected the N50, 000.
” As soon as the policeman collected the marked money from the woman and started counting, plain clothes detectives appeared on the scene and arrested him. The alleged accomplice swiftly flung the notes away and tried to flee the scene but was arrested by the X-Squad.
Sensing that he had got himself into the soup, he said he was not part of the team that accosted the truck driver. He said that he was merely called by the team leader to assist him to collect the money from the woman.
The entire team and their area commander were then summoned to the CP’s office for interrogation. At the CP’s office, the team leader confessed that the area commander was not aware of the deal. Members of the team were detained and later sent on orderly room trial.
They were tried by a panel headed by a Superintendent of Police and recommended for dismissal. The CP, however, said the five policemen should be demoted to constables, instead of being dismissed. They were further posted to work under the provost’s supervision.