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Lagos policemen on illegal duty handcuff, brutalise PUNCHman

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Some bribe-seeking policemen on illegal duty at Berger Bus-Stop on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on Monday brutalised a reporter with The PUNCH, Matthew Agbaje.

Agbaje was handcuffed to a commercial bus as he was punched and slapped for attempting to expose the cops.

The reporter had watched as a bus driver was dragged by the five-man team after he (driver) protested attempts to impound his vehicle over an alleged offence.

One of the policemen, who noticed the journalist recording the incident with his mobile phone, pushed him into a commercial bus which they were using for the operation.

Agbaje, while narrating his ordeal, said the attack became intensified after he identified himself as a journalist.

He said, “I was on my way to the office. I had descended from the pedestrian bridge at Berger Bus-Stop, inward Ogun State, when I saw some policemen, about five of them, dragging a bus driver. I decided to record the incident with my phone.

“One of the officers, who suspected something odd, collected my phone and dragged me to their vehicle. He asked me to unlock the phone, while others punched me with their fists.

“They all shouted at me at the same time and queried me for using my phone at the scene. They handcuffed my left hand to the bus and started slapping me on the face and in my right eye. They punched me more after I identified myself as a journalist.

“After that, I was forced to unlock my phone. When they saw the clip of where they were assaulting the bus driver, they hit me more on my back and said I wanted to implicate them.

“They continued hitting me as one of the officers holding a baseball bat threatened to break my legs with it. He said, ‘Let me see how you will go to incident scenes to record.’ I started begging them to stop hitting me.

“One of the officers said, ‘Allow him to go, we have deleted the video on his phone and dealt with him.’”

The Isheri Police Station is closest to the scene of the incident.

However, our correspondents who visited the bus stop on Tuesday, gathered that the policemen visited the area regularly to harass and extort money from bus drivers.

A member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, who identified himself as Mutiu, said, “I see them come around every time. They don’t come in their van; they always operate in a commercial bus, disguising as passengers. Once they arrive here, they double-cross any vehicle picking passengers along the road and force the driver out of the bus. Any driver who tries to resist them is beaten up.”

When asked what division they were attached to, another transport worker at the park said, “I grew up in Isheri here and I am sure the officers are not from that division. We usually settle those ones, so they don’t disturb us.

“We got to know that the ones that disturb drivers here are from Oshodi and some from Pen Cinema. Anytime they arrest drivers, they drive their buses away and the drivers start going round police stations to confirm where their buses are.”

There was no sight of the policemen while our correspondents observed activities at the motor park for several hours.

A woman, who sold items at the lay-by and apparently saw how our correspondent was assaulted a day before, also stated that the police officers came from the Oshodi area.

“That is what they do to drivers here and we see them do that every time. They usually come from Oshodi,” she stated.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said a report must be made to the nearest police station.

Hundeyin said, “I am sure that the Divisional Police Officer of the jurisdiction where the incident occurred is unaware of this unofficial activity of the policemen. However, make your report. Thereafter, the case will be investigated and the culprit will be fished out and sanctioned.” Culled: Punch. 

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