Police not our friend, say tricyclists, lament extortion

Keke-2+++-CopyLIFE will never remain the same again for Godwin Ekpo, the tricycle operator whose wife was shot dead by a police officer attached to the Isheri Oshun division, Corporal Aremu in Lagos.

Though already discharged from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) after undergoing surgery in his jaw that was pierced by a bullet, September 16 would for the rest of his lifetime remind him of the policeman’s brutality that led to the death of his wife, Comfort Idongesit, in Ijegun after refusing to give the killer cop N2,000.

It took a protest march from Ekpo’s colleagues and sympathizers before the killer cop and members of his team could be arrested on the orders of the Commissioner of Police, 48 hours after the incident. He has since been arraigned before an Ebute-Metta Magistrate Court on a two-count charge of murder and causing grievous bodily harm.

Keke Marwa operators plying the Jakande-Ijegun expressway have, however, called on the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, to call his men to order and stop the constant harassment of their members on the road.

In a chat with The Guardian, they said policemen have turned it into their pastime to always erect illegal checkpoint at the spot where they extort money from tricycle and okada riders, especially at weekends. “Whenever we refuse giving in to their hapless demands, our tricycles will be seized. They collect not less than N1,500 or N2,000 each from us,” Emeka Nwachukwu said.

Another operator said many of their members are usually scared of working on that route because of police harassment. “The situation has become worse so much that our policemen have shamelessly become beggars. Instead of them doing their jobs, they go about causing problems for citizens they are paid to protect.

“The police corruption is so brazen that some of our members who commits any crime or injures anyone with their tricycle, once the matter is reported to the police, they let the offender off the hook. Instead of police handling the case with seriousness, they prefer collecting money from the offender and allow the person go scot-free.”

Recounting his ordeal, Ekpo said while police are generally touted to be the citizen’s friends, the reverse is the case in Nigeria. “Here, they act so much as if they are our enemies.”

The Akwa-Ibom state indigene, who is yet to come to terms with the reality of his wife’s demise, cbefallen him. “I don’t know what I did to the policeman to have warranted such calamity. I have never had any issue with the police all my life. I was returning from church that fateful night in the company of my wife and four children; Mary, 12; Blessing, 9; Abraham, 7; and 11-month-old Elijah.

“On reaching Obalagbe, along Ijegun road, some policemen stopped me. One of them came and demanded for N2,000. I told him the passengers were my family members and that I was returning from church. My wife who was with this baby (pointing to 11 months old Elijah), came down and was even explaining to the policeman. But he refused to listen.

“Before we knew it, he fired a shot, which hit my wife on the head. She died right on the spot. The bullet pierced through her head, hit me in the jaw and right arm. That was all I could remember until I found my self in the hospital.”

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