Lagos residents are going through hell in the hands of the police, who have turned the state into a cauldron of extortion. To underline the menace tearing the soul of the state apart, Edgal Imohimi, the newly-appointed Acting Commissioner of Police, on Monday, removed Akinlade Akinjobi as the officer-in-charge of the state’s Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Cultism Squad. Police officers from the squad had allegedly extorted N50,000 from a suspect, Blessing Taiwo, sexually assaulted her sister who was taking food to her in the cell, and seized her phone in lieu of the N20,000 balance they demanded as a bribe to release her.
Apart from his mandate to reduce crime, Imohimi needs a systemic response to curb the systemic excesses of our crooked police officers. He has, indeed, promised “not to treat lightly cases of corruption or indiscipline against policemen”. His reputation is at stake.
No matter the barefaced denials, police extortion is a brutal fact in Lagos. Devious police acts at checkpoints go unreported, with the voiceless victims left to nurse their wounds in silence. Yet, mainstream media and social media reports paint vivid pictures of repeated abuses by the police. Apart from Taiwo, other victims include a medical doctor, whose wife was reportedly forced to withdraw N45,000 from an ATM when police stopped them in the middle of the night in May; and the Bamisile siblings, who were molested around 11pm in August at Allen Avenue, Ikeja. Their offence was that one of them carried two cell-phones.