Some police officers deployed to curb kidnapping along the now dreaded Ife-Ibadan highway, South-west Nigeria, were on Monday caught extorting motorists. The policemen stationed at the outskirt of Ibadan, Ikire, Gbongan and Ile-Ife demanded bribe from the driver of the vehicle conveying this reporter and 17 other passengers on Monday evening. The journey lasted an hour and 15 minutes. Some of the motorists who earlier spoke with PREMIUM TIMES confirmed the habitual extortion by officers adding that these have heightened now with the additional roadblocks mounted along the road. While the police officers in the outskirts of Ibadan and Ikire collected the naira notes discreetly without questioning the driver, the ones at Gbongan and Ile-Ife did not. An officer at Gbongan, with the inscription Akosoba A on his uniform, collected a 100-naira note from the driver and gave a change of fifty naira.
Also, a policeman in Ile-Ife, who appeared in a camouflage, instructed the motorist to park for raising a question but changed his mind after a fifty-naira note was slid into his hands.
More police officers have been deployed along Ife-Ibhighwayhtway to check rampant cases of kidnapping. In April, this newspaper reported how an Ibadan-based lawyer, Musibau Adetunbi, and his driver were kidnapped along the Ibadan-Ife expressway. In May, a lecturer in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, was kidnapped and eventually released after paying a ransom of five million naira.
Also, suspected armed herders attacked passengers along the Ife-Ibadan expressway, killing Adenipekun Ademiju, a civil servant, in June. As published by Punch, Mr Ademiju was said to have boarded a vehicle at Osu town going to Ibadan when he and other passengers were attacked at Ikire community along the expressway.
Bribery entrenched? With the advent of social media, many police officers have been caught on camera soliciting bribes at roadblocks in recent years. Although several Inspector Generals of Police have banned roadblocks in the past, they remain some of the easiest ways for these officers to extort motorists. In 2013, a sergeant was dismissed after a viral video showed him soliciting bribes from motorists in Lagos. In June 2017, four officers were dismissed for extorting a citizen in Ijebu Ode Area Command, the same jurisdiction where Mr Afolabi was caught on camera by PREMIUM TIMES.
In May 2018, two police officers were caught on camera extorting motorists along Ijebu Ode-Ibadan Road in Ogun State. When the multimedia evidence of the officers’ misconduct was forwarded to Abayomi Shogunle, head of police complaints unit in Abuja, he promised to act on them and ensure the matter is investigated and culprits punished. However, months after the complaint was made and a tracking number issued, the police are yet to take any definite action. Police spokesperson, Frank Mba, requested to see the latest video clip before commenting. He did not respond more than 24 hours after the video was sent to him. Premium Times