Residents and travelers have during the week lamented over extortion by the Umunede Police Divisional Headquarters, Ika North East Local Government Area as means of checking curfew occasioned by the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.
One Emmanuel residing in the New Road area of Umunede who first drew the attention of journalists over the matter for investigation said curfew which was instituted by the government to restrict movement and curtail the spread of corona virus has now turned a means of money making for the Umunede Police Divisional Headquarters.
He alleged that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Umunede Divisional Police Headquarters, SP Patrick Uebari has claimed that he has no knowledge of the ongoing extortion by the division.
According to Emmanuel, “A woman Corporal, Rachael Okani and ASP Ojehomon Shepherd, the division Divisional Crime Officer 2 were those the DPO made to be handling the matter. While ASP Ojehomon leads the patrol team that will be making arrest, Corporal Rachael Okani will be in charge of collecting money from those arrested for breaching the curfew order. Offenders are made to pay 5000 to 6000 naira as bail fees.
“To make matter worsen for offenders, motorists and drivers are also made to pay the same amount as bail. Indeed, it has not been easy with residents and travelers in Umunede with police checking curfew. Those who fall victims and are unable to pay for their immediate release are always detained.
“Since the curfew order has turned a lucrative business for Umunede police, the DPO Uebari who lives in a building directly opposite the division has cultivated the habit of coming late ‘to work so as to give his men the space to deal with offenders.
“The money extortion by the Umunede police is a conspiracy by the DPO and his men. Other security agencies like the vigilante and anti-cult groups also join the police in making arrest but, whether they partake in the share of the huge sum of money they are making is what I am yet to know. No doubt residents and travelers have suffered in the hands of Umunede police discharging their duties in this hard time of corona virus pandemic”.
He then queried the Delta State government to know if there is any stipulated amount of money to pay to the police by persons who breach the curfew order.
As course of investigation, travelers who fall victims and bare their mind stated; “My name is Promise Sunday, a driver from Akwa Ibom, I was on my way to Onitsha, Anambra State carrying perishable goods when the police at Umunede apprehended me that I have breached the curfew order. Despite all efforts pleading with the D.C.O, a man from his intonation I suspected hails from Akwa Ibom that led the patrol team, my customer, conductor and I was taking to their police station and detained. We spent twenty thousand (20000) naira to bail ourselves and my vehicle.
“My greatest challenge and worry wasn’t that we were arrested, but the state of the police cell breaching the laid down measures to stay safe from corona virus such as social distancing and avoiding were overcrowded. Sincerely, we were over forty persons in my cell room and it took the grace of God that I survive from suffocation. It was indeed a bitter experience to be told. The question now for the police in Umunede to answer is that assuming there are corona virus patients in the cell what is our faith?
“I thank you journalists, while I am using this opportunity to call on the Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police Delta State and Delta State government for a matter of urgency to call the police DPO in Umunede to order from spreading corona virus and to stop extorting people.
“I am Mohammed Jamiliu, I was arrested by the police in Umunede as I was about buying fried Indomie noodles to eat along the Umunede Benin/Asaba expressway around 8pm on the condition that I have breached the government curfew order. I was detained and released the following morning paying them five thousand naira. I feel bad that the police in this hard time collected such amount of money from me.
“I am Sunday by name; the Umunede police collected the sum of six thousand naira to free me for breaching the curfew order.
“My name is Oluchi Nnaji; I paid the sum of six thousand naira for my release. It was hell of an experience being detained in Umunede police cell for breaching the curfew order and I pray that I should not test positive to corona virus after now”.
Meanwhile, efforts to see the Umunede DPO for him to speak on the matter proved abortive as he was said not in the office as the time of the visit.