Metro & Crime

Policeman accused of checking suspect’s account balance, demands N200,000

A 60-year-old woman, Mrs. Esther Ebere, has narrated her harrowing experience in the hands of policemen at the Idimu Police Station located at the Egbeda area of Lagos State. The woman, who has become disturbed, said that the police arrested her and her daughter, Success, and detained them for two days.

She explained that in those two days, Success was turned into a slave at the police station, washing and cleaning for the police personnel. Ebere, who has been a widow for long, said that the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), identified as Adebisi, allegedly confiscated their phones as evidence, but would later allegedly takes Success’s phone to his house. Ebere alleged: “He took my daughter’s phone home and went through her account balance. When he came the following day, he asked us to pay N200,000 for our bail. He took my daughter to a Point of sale (POS) agent and compelled her to withdraw N100, 000, which she gave to him.”

Ebere, who said her fundamental human rights and those of her daughter’s had been violated, added that since their release from detention, they had been living in fear following constant harassment from the complainant and incessant phone calls from the police, especially Adebisi. Success said: “It was the IPO, Adebisi, that detained us.

He went through my statement of account on my phone. He also asked me to withdraw money via POS, which I did and handed over to him. The POS agent was just a few walks away from the police station, by the right hand side. I withdrew twice because I didn’t have enough on one account and had to transfer from the money I was keeping for my school clearance to make up the total he demanded. The first withdrawal was N90, 000; the second was N11, 700, while the N1, 700 was for POS service charges.

When our reporter asked Adebisi about taking the suspect’s phone to his house, checking her account balance and then compelling her to withdraw N100, 000 to give to him, he laughed, saying that mother and daughter were being economical with the truth. His words: “It’s a lie! It’s not possible! If you want to see me, come to the office tomorrow morning. How can I take a suspect’s phone to my house? For what? It’s not true. Just see me one-on-one, so that other inquiries and investigations, you’ll know the truth. It’s a case of obtaining money under false pretence Whatever I’m doing, our Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and others are aware.

How can I take suspects out to withdraw money, for what? It’s not true! You can come and make further inquiries.” Ebere explained that her troubles with the police personnel at the Idimu Police Station started after she sold a piece of land located at Agodo-Egbe area of Ikotun, Lagos State to one Mr. Olagoke.

She stated that she bought the land from the Kabieyesi of Agodo- Egbe in 2013. She explained that since she knew she couldn’t afford to build on it, she decided to allow it to be appreciated. When a church member told her that she was relocating with her family and needed to sell their building, Ebere decided to sell her piece of land, so as to use the proceeds to buy the building. She recalled that many buyers came, but Olagoke was the most persistent. After negotiation, both seller and buyer settled on N3.8million.

Olagoke, however, paid N3.5m, promising to later balance Ebere N300, 000. Ebere said: “He paid the money into my daughter’s account and I used it immediately to buy the building from my church member. He paid on the 31st of October 2021, and then two days later, he called, shouting that I had swindled him. He said that I knew I had no land, yet I went ahead to sell the piece of land to him.

He was the one that came to me, and repeatedly said that he wanted to buy the land. He asked for a refund of his money. I told him that I had already used the money. It was when he started calling to insult and threatened me that I told him to stop it.” Ebere said that to show good faith, she promised to transfer N1.5m, which she had kept aside to renovate the building she bought. She said: “I wanted to show him that I didn’t swindle him or anything like that. After transferring the N1.5m, I asked him to give me time to sell the land and refund him the balance of N2m, which he agreed. He told me that he gathered from people around that an estate agency bought some parcels of land in that community, including mine. The truth is that I was not aware of what he was talking about. Olagoke said that the people that bought the lands had compensated their owners. But nobody bought my land, let alone to compensate me.

It was at the point when he was supposed to append his signature to signify that he had collected N1.5m from me that he made a phone call and policemen appeared.” The policemen were from Idimu Police Station and when mother and daughter got to the station, police personnel allegedly started hurling insults at them and calling them fraudsters. She recalled: “When they asked us to write our statements, someone at the station told them it was a civil case, but the police wouldn’t listen. They insisted that we must be detained and put in the cell and that from there we would be moved to prison, where we would rot. The IPO said that he would write an allegation, which would make us go to prison. They kept harassing and intimidating us and wouldn’t allow us to say anything. They collected our phones and then put us inside the cell.”

Ebere said that the cell was quite a terrible place without light and has a rough floor. It was also wet and had an open toilet. The duo was detained for two days and on the third day, they were granted bail. “In those two days, a policewoman would come to the cell, take Success out and then order her to clean the compound and toilets. I told them that I didn’t kill anyone; I only sold my piece of land. The police, for reasons I couldn’t understand, collected the original receipts of my land and the new building I bought,” said Ebere.

“My daughter was marched to a POS agent, and the IPO made her withdraw N100, 000, which he collected. When my daughter returned, she was crying. When I asked what was wrong, she said that they took all the money in her account. They initially demanded N200,000. My daughter’s salary is just N35, 000.”

Ebere said that when police called the Kabieyesi, who she bought the land from, he confirmed the land was genuine. He further reportedly stated that he was in the USA and when he returns, everything would be sorted out. The assurance from the Kabieyesi didn’t appear to be suffice for Olagoke and the police, for the harassments and threats continued, said Ebere Ebere added: “Olagoke has been harassing me and threatening me physically, via phone calls and SMS. He should give us a chance to sell the land and refund him. He’s threatening us and the police are also threatening us.

It was because of the threats and constant harrasments that I ran to a human rights activist, Esther Child Rights Foundation. The police have refused to return my receipts and Olagoke said that he would go to Force Headquarters in Abuja to get policemen to come and arrest us. I can’t sleep and I don’t have an appetite. I’m feeling distressed and embarrassed.” On November 28, our reporter called Olagoke to hear his side of the story, but his phone was switched off. Another call was made on November 30, but the phone was still not on. Our reporter sent an SMS, but as at the time of filing in this report, Olagoke was yet to get back to our reporter.

 

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