The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) attached to Ogidi Police Division, Anambra State today, on the orders of the State Commissioner of Police, John Abang, refunded the sum of #23,000 its operatives extorted from some innocent citizens.
Two siblings, Kosisochukwu and Chukwunonso Okite were on Thursday, arrested in their father’s compound at Ire village, Ogidi, Idemili North Council Area by SARS operatives who were said to be in pursuit of a suspect.
According to a legal practitioner, Chukwuemeka Okite who is a relative to the victims, the Police had insisted that they produce the fleeing suspect who they claimed ran through their unfenced compound.
“When they could not catch their alleged target, the men of SARS then arrested my two nephews, Kosisochukwu Okite and Chukwunonso Okite, insisting that they must produce the alleged suspect who they claimed ran through my family compound. The men of SARS hand-cuffed my two nephews and took them to Ogidi Police Station despite protests by their parents. They also scattered their father’s shop, beat up my niece, Chisom Okite and tore her clothes, leaving her naked simply because she was dissuading them from taking away her innocent brothers,” Barr Okite narrated.
He continued; “On getting to the station, those SARS men demanded 100,000 naira as bail money from the boys’ father, Mr. Augustine Okite. Though I had instructed my brother not to part with money, he was worried considering what usually happens at the cell where they shoot and kill innocent people constantly. Apprehensive for the safety of his sons, he was literally forced to pay 20,000 Naira as bail money and 3,000 naira for the bail bond, after which the boys were released.”
Barr Okite who is a member of the Police Stakeholders Partnership Forum, PSPF, had drawn the attention of the Forum to the matter via its Whatsapp platform and through the Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Okey Nwanguma.
Nwanguma had alerted the State Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed on the issue who in turn, escalated the matter to the State Commissioner of Police, John Abang.
It was gathered that this morning, the Officer in Charge (O/C), Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), Awkuzu, Anambra State, put a call across to the RULAAC boss, requesting him to ask the aggrieved party in the case of unlawful arrest and extortion, to meet him in his office at Awkuzu for a refund of the sum extorted from them by the SARS operatives.
This complied with the directives of the State Commissioner of Police, CP Abang, that the money be returned to the victims before eleven am today.
Confirming the refund, Barr Okite said the family on Friday, had an audience with the CP after they had gone to the OC SARS and got refunded.
“The Commissioner of Police exhibited utmost civility and leadership. He apologized to my people on behalf of the Command for the excesses of the SARS men and committed that disciplinary actions against the erring men will follow. My people left the CP’s office happy and satisfied that the injustice has been addressed and is still being addressed by the CP. I want to commend the CP for his uncommon display of civility today and also the PSPF for escalating the matter,” Bar Okite said.
Meanwhile, the Police Stakeholders Partnership Forum (PSPF) has commended the State Commissioner of Police, John Abang for his prompt response to public complaints and for standing up against corruption and human rights violations.
The RULAAC Executive Director, Okey Nwanguma who spoke on behalf of the forum, said the disposition of the CP will serve as a deterrent to other erring policemen in the state.
“PSPF commends the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State, CP John Abang for his prompt response to public complaints and for standing up against corruption and human rights violations. We will continue to collaborate with and support the command in its efforts to serve and protect Anambra citizens and residents with integrity.
“We also call on the CP to remain steadfast and be assured of the support of Anambra citizens and residents represented by PSPF.
“PSPF also commends the PPRO for his cooperation with the Forum and his competence, diligence and effectiveness in communication and public relations,” Nwanguma concluded.