Metro & Crime

61-year-old man spends Christmas in detention over adulteration

•I’m innocent, suspect claims

A 61-year-old man, Bright Chilaka, has been arrested by operatives of the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Alagbon Close, Obalende, Lagos State, for allegedly being involved in the production of adulterated engine oil. Chilaka was arrested when police detectives stormed the International Trade Fair Market with officials of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), to raid the market of fake oil. He was arrested along with another man whose identity was not known at press time.

It was alleged that Chilaka, his partner and several other people, attempted to escape from their shops when SON officials and policemen stormed the market. While others escaped, luck was against Chilaka. He was arrested with the second suspect.

The two men have, however, denied being involved in the production of adulterated engine oil. The engine oil reportedly produced by the traders in the market includes Oando, Amasco, Forte, Mobil and Total engine oil. Most of these were alleged to have been recovered from the shops of the suspects. Chilaka’s brother, Bennet, said the suspect couldn’t have been involved in such a crime.

He said: “On December 23, Chilaka was at his duty post, at Trade Fair Market, where he issues tickets to people who come to buy goods at the market, when some policemen came. He has been doing this job for more than two decades.

He was at the gate, which is his duty post, when the policemen came and took him away. They also took another man. “I was about to go to bed when his wife called me, saying Chilaka had been arrested.

I started making calls that night, but couldn’t locate where he was taken to. The following day, I went to the market to ask some questions. I was finally able to trace him to the FCID, Alagbon, where he was detained. I made several efforts to get the Investigation Police Officer (IPO) of the matter, but all my efforts failed.

I had to return to the market to find out why the police arrested him. Some traders told me that Chilaka was arrested at the section of the market where they are producing fake engine oil. They also told me that Chilaka was not part of those producing the oil.

They said that when police and officials of SON came into the market, all the prime suspects fled. They then arrested Chilaka and another guy.” Bennet added that when he got to Alagbon, he tried to resolve the matter amicably, but was told the IPO had travelled to Benue State for his Christmas celebrations, leaving Chilaka in detention. When Bennet finally spoke with the IPO on the phone, he told him to ask for a policeman named Ajibade.

“When I finally met Ajibade, he asked me to bring N500,000 for Chilaka’s bail. But we eventually agreed on N60,000. After giving them the money, I was asked to come on December 25 that Chilaka would be released. I was also told to come with a guarantor, who would stand for him in case he jumps bail. After the police had written the bail bonds, one of them came to meet me, saying I should wait for three hours that their senior officer, who was supposed to give his consent before the granting of bail to my brother, was not around,” Bennet said.

He said that after he had waited for five hours, Ajibade told him that his phone was down, that he needed to call the supposed superior officer they had been waiting for. Bennet quickly gave him his phone to make the vital call.

“I gave him my phone only for him to call one Mr. Omale, who is the IPO. Ajibade told me that Omale asked him to tell me that their boss had not given consent for my brother to be granted bail.

I also discovered that through Ajibade’s conversation with Omale, my brother was innocent of the offence he was arrested for. The N60,000 was returned to me. I was told that the only person that could set my brother free was the Director-General (DG) of SON, who went with them for the operation. I was told he was arrested at the scene where some people were producing fake engine oil and there were about 100 shops in the market.

He has already spent a week in the cell. Since his arrest, his wife and only child have been plagued with worries. I’m appealing to SON officials to release Chilaka. He’s innocent of the crime he was alleged of,” he said.

The IPO, Omale, when contacted, said he was not the one who arrested Chilaka. He said: “I only went with SON officials on the raid of people producing adulterated engine oil. And that was not the first time the market would be raided because of production of adulterated engine oil. In fact, some people had been arraigned for the offence.

The place where this adulterated engine oil is being produced is a big community, where about 100 people are busy producing different kinds and brands of adulterated engine oil and lubricants. Immediately the suspects sighted policemen and officials of SON, they all took to their heels.

In that community, they are manufacturing fake Total, Forte, Mobil, Amasco oil and many lubricants. When the Director-General of SON saw what they were doing, he was angry and it was those two suspects we were able to arrest.

“When Chilaka was arrested, he said he was not selling oil, but he stays at the gate where the oil is being sold to issue tickets. He collects money from people who come into the market to buy fake engine oil. What he is doing is aiding and abetting. Sincerely, you can’t differentiate between the fake engine oil and the original. The fake engine oil is killing our economy. We are not going to rest. We would go after those who are at large and get them arrested.” When Ajibade was contacted to get his reaction, he said he didn’t know anything about the case.

He, however, asked our correspondent to meet with the FCID spokesperson, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Mr. Niyi Ogundeji. Ogundeji explained that it was SON which invited policemen from Alagbon to go with the team on the raid of the market.

He added: “We have prepared his bail bond, but we are waiting for the family to come with someone who would stand as surety for him. We are also waiting for the SON to come before we would release him. He was not the only person arrested.

We arrested them randomly and after we had profiled them and those culpable are with us. They were arrested for producing fake engine oil of different brands, which means they are sabotaging the Nigerian economy.”

The Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, who has taken up the matter on behalf of Chilaka, said: “The Police demanded N5000 to release the man on bail. The man’s brother brought part of the money which the police collected but later returned after we called them to inquire about the case. Then, they began to argue that they were still detaining the man- more than one week after arrest – on the instructions of SON. But this argument does not make sense.

The Police investigate and determines, based on available evidence, if an accused and detainee is likely to have committed the alleged crime and to either release or charge him being mindful of the legally permissible duration for detention, especially, when the offence is bailable.

The Police cannot hide under the lame excuse that SON ordered the arrest to act unconstitutionally by indefinitely and illegally detaining a mere accused.” As at the time of filing in this report, Chilaka is still in detention.


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