Monday, November 18, 2013

N50 Bribe: Irresponsible Policemen Cause Bus Accident in Ogun State, Waiting Passenger Killed

Three policemen attached to the Sango Otta Police Station in Ogun
State on Saturday evening caused a commercial bus to hit a waiting
passenger, killing her.
The policemen were making an illegal demand of N50, which the driver
was not willing to pay.
Eye witnesses told SaharaReporters the incident occurred at about
8.30pm on Saturday at the foot of Sango bridge, which runs in front of
the police station.
They said the three policemen, who have not been identified, harassed
the driver into a dangerous speed which led to his hitting the
passenger, who was waiting for a bus. The victim, who began to bleed
profusely, was ignored by the policemen as they continued to chase the
bus to collect the N50 they were trying to extort from the driver.
One of the witnesses, a trader who sells electronics at the POWA
shopping complex attached to the police station, disclosed that it was
not unusual or the policemen to harass innocent drivers at the bus
stop to collect their illegal N50 charge or to hijack busses from
commercial operators for their own purposes.
"It is not new. They do this every time, scaring bus drivers with guns
to extort N50 from them. Sometimes they hijack busses whenever they
see one that is empty so that they use it to operate deceptively and
extort other buses," the witness said.
The victim, identified simply as Mrs. Lawal, reportedly bled for more
than one hour before a passer-by who recognized her sent a message to
her children. One of them hurried to the scene with his friends to
find his mother dying helplessly.
The deceased's son, Mr. Feyi Lawal, told our correspondent that his
friends who went to the scene with him assisted to take his mother to
Rubi hospital, a private medical center near the accident scene. They
were however later referred to the government's "General hospital" due
to the severity of her injuries.
Feyi said his mother gave up just before she could receive any
treatment at the General hospital.
A female police officer who attended to Feyi and his friends at the
station on Sunday when they visited to make report, took Feyi's
statement but denied him the right to include in the statement a
complaint about the police harassment which led to the accident, which
was written down by herself.
Writing the statement by herself, she claimed it was a 'hit-and-run'
driver. All witnesses however debunked claims by the police,
insisting that the accident was caused by extortionist policemen.
"They are always the first to come out and help victims of accidents,
but because they caused this one themselves, they hid their faces in
their station and left the victim to die," said an eyewitness.
"It is either they wanted to take his bus for their illegal operation
or they wanted their usual illegal N50. But it is most likely they
wanted to take his bus because I noticed the bus was empty," another
witness said.
He added that the bus drove dangerously in order to escape the
gun-wielding policemen. He also alluded to another recent occasion
where a police officer accidentally shot bullet on himself in a
delicate point near his own jugular after hitting his service gun on a
bus conductor in demanding N50.
On that incident, he pointed out that the policeman was negligently
using his gun to hit the bus conductor, somehow oblivious of the fact
that its nuzzle was close to his own throat. The gun accidently fired,
and the bullet allegedly shattered the neck of the police officer.
According to him, colleagues of the erring police officer then
arrested the conductor, although he was clearly innocent.
Said a woman who trades in front of the police station, "I really
don't know why, but the police own vans which officers could use for
their operations; why force buses that are working on their own to do
illegal police operation?"
The witnesses also said policemen in Sango Otta are notorious for
arresting people who have committed no offences, only take them to the
station and demand bail money and "DPO's fee" of N5,000.
"They work with touts under the bridge. Those touts also arrest people
that urinate and demand bail. But we are surprised that they won't
arrest those polluting the wall with ruling party's posters since they
claim they are arresting polluters," another witness volunteered,
pointing at the walls of the bridge littered with campaign posters of
the ruling party in Ogun State, the All Progressives Congress.
"They are all thugs; the government agencies, police and the touts.
They work together to harrass people," asserted a resident, who
pleaded anonymity.
"Well, Sango has become more notorious. But what we fear even most now
is the police because they can kill for just N50," another resident at
Temidire bus stop said.
A citizen journalist was arrested in Sango during the period that the
bridge was under construction. The young journalist was taking
photograph of policemen who were seizing bikes for no offence and
extorting them.
Although there are conflicting views as to whether the police
eventually arrested the vehicle that was chased into a waiting crowd,
sources close to the station unanimously agreed that the police would
merely demand money from the driver if they get him, and then shield
him from families of the deceased.
Some members of the family of Mrs. Lawal have indicated that they may
sue the police over her death.

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