… IGP orders operators to vacate stations
T he Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered Point of Sales Operators (POS), roving around police commands, area commands and stations to vacate immediately. The order, it was learnt, is to prevent rank and files, senior officers who are in the habit of conniving with POS operators to extort innocent Nigerians to stop. This is because hardly a day passes without complaints from members of the public of policemen using POS to withdraw money from innocent Nigerians account under the guise of bailing themselves. How policemen connive with POS operators It has been observed over time that some POS operators specialise in hanging around police stations. Investigations reveal that their target customers are innocent Nigerians being extorted by some recalcitrant police officers under the pretence of searching vehicles and phones.
The presence of POS operators around police stations, Commands, Area Commands has made the extortion game a lot easier for the recalcitrant policemen who base their survival on the extortion, aside from their monthly salaries. The act is said to be a common trend among policemen in Lagos and other parts of the country. But to have a corrupt free force, it has become imperative that the activities of POS operators around police stations be regulated, as some of them have been identified to be enablers of extortion.
This regulation should not just be for detecting, but also preventing crime, to this end, anyone found to have knowingly enabled extortion should be treated as a criminal, this is where the POS operators who have been observed to always connive with some policemen to extort unsuspecting Nigerians of their hard earned money under the guise of arresting them for minor offences or otherwise comes under focus. It was also gathered that almost all officers patronise the POS operators around their stations, while some even operate right inside the stations. The POS is used by the police to avoid being traced and arrested when they collect money from people, because what they use to do is to ask the person they arrest to transfer money into their account, but to avoid being traced, they turn to the use of POS for the withdrawal of such money and to cover their tracks.
Some policemen who are on checkpoint also go round with their own POS machine and there are many instances where policemen have been arrested with POS machine while on the road in order to be easier for them to withdraw money instead of transfer that may lead to their arrest.
Security experts react
Some security experts in their opinion describe the attitude of some policemen who connive with POS operators who lurk around police stations or those operating inside some State Police Commands, Area Commands and divisions as shameful act to the image of the police force. According to a veteran journalist, Mr. Raymond Tedujaiye who has covered security beats for over 25 years, “it is bad for the image of the Nigeria Police Force to allow POS operators to operate in their stations, Commands and Area Commanders.”
He said the act is a slap on the image of the Nigeria Police Force and that the POS operators are conspicuously stationed in some police stations within and around the stations and sometimes areas where you see operational vehicles of police, “they are always close to them.”
“There are several reports about policemen that whenever they arrest someone such a person is taken to a POS operator who work with them and withdraw money from there and this is very bad for the image of the police, about the recalcitrant policemen who are bent on collecting bribe by all means to survive.
The high command of the Force has warned the bad eggs among the police to desist from it, yet they are still deviant thereby asking their victims to go to POS operators they connive with to withdraw money. “The money the recalcitrant police used to ask their victims to withdraw are mostly bail money and we all know that bail is free and when people don’t want to suffer they are always rushing to the POS to bail themselves out of the police stations. As the Force Public Relations Officer has said the directive from the Inspector General of Police that all POS operators should leave the police stations, Commands and Area Commanders is a welcome development.
“The IGP also ordered the POS operators out of other police formations across the country which is good for the image of the Force. With the withdrawal of the POS operators from those areas listed it would stop the corrupt policemen from withdrawing money from victims account and fear of asking victims to send money to a policeman’s account, such a policeman would be afraid because such a person will definitely know that he would be traced through such account where he received money from and the person would be arrested and prosecuted, that is why they are using POS to cover up their tracks.”
Some POS operators arrested at Akinpelu Police Station
It was also gathered that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Akinpelu Police Station, Oshodi, a Superintendent of Police (SP), Nkiruka Ugwu allegedly arrested some POS operators and asked them to bail themselves with N10,000 each. The DPO had arrested some operators of Point of Sales (POS) in the area last week.
She was alleged to have claimed that she was acting on the order of the Inspector General Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba to arrest the operators. While raiding the operators, Ugwu was said to have told them that the IGP had declared the operation of POS around the Police Station illegal and that they should be arrested. The DPO alongside her team allegedly arrested and confiscated the POS machines of the victims and she asked the victims numbering up to 10 to bail themselves with N10,000 each and that they should come back later to bail their POS machine with another N10, 000 each. The DPO was alleged to have gone to one of the victims and threatened to remove her container or she will take her to the Lagos State Police Command for prosecution.
The victim also alleged that the DPO had always come to her shop to do money transfer, but will never pay back and that she had severally told her that Nigeria owes and that she can owe her too. Also, another victim, Temitope Adejoun, said the DPO arrested her brother after she refused to follow her to the station when she came to her shop. “They put my mum who was backing my little daughter, behind the counter after she went to the station to ask why my brother was arrested,” she alleged. After the incident went viral and was brought before the chairman of Radical Agenda Movement, an NGO, Adesina Ogunlana, the DPO allegedly called one Olayiwola Matiloko to a meeting to help her coordinate the operators to come for their POS machine after her threat failed to silence the victims but, Matiloko asked her to call them by herself. The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said the IGP had given a directive that no POS operator be allowed within any police premises. He said: “No way, and we will enforce this order because we have noticed their conspiracy with some of our recalcitrant men on the field. We seek your understanding and cooperation please on this matter.” “Please lets know. Keep us informed about these happenings, I have communicated these observations to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos, while the Force would continually purges itself of these bad officers.”