Force Headquarters order investigations
Neighbours resist arrest of Muokwe after Police team came to pick him without arrest warrant
IGP warns Police officers to avoid bribes, and respect rights of citizens
As Nigerians battle for survival amidst the Coronavirus lockdown in the country, a man, Muokwe Henry Jones, has posted a story online to report his manhandling in the hands of police officers in Anambra State who threatened to shoot him for refusing to bribe them to pass the check point mounted between Umuchu in Aguata Local Government Area and Umunze, the headquarters of Orumba North Local Government.
Bereft of any commercial or mortgage banks despite its large population, Umuchu people mostly go to Umunze, where there are many of these banks, for their banking needs.
The video, which was shared to Global Upfront Newspapers (GUN), saw the Police officers intimidating Henry Jones to open his wound-up windscreen after he has put them online for the world to see.
The Umuchu indigene said he was going to one of the banks in Umunze to withdraw money when the Police officers stopped him from passing through the checkpoint and shot at his front tyres to deflate them.
He said he was accused of neglecting government stay-at-home order but Henry Jones said he was surprised seeing people everywhere at the market and wondered why he was the primary target of the Police after all his explanation that he was going to bank to withdraw money to feed and sustain his family as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to the 5.34 minutes viral video posting: “I was going to the bank to collect money and as I’m telling you know, the Police, all of them are here and this man (the Police officer) already shot at my tyres. He blew up my two tyres saying that I neglected command that the government has given. But as you can see, people are watching and witnessing what is happening here.
“What shows that there is no movement in this particular place? This is a market (Nkwo Umunze market). The market is full. I hide inside the car now because of my life as I’m afraid what is going to happen now.”
“Already, as you can see, the Policeman is videoing me after he has shot at my two front tyres. He shot at my tyres and threatened to kill me that I ignored the order not to move around. And I told him, “officer, I don’t have enough money to eat but I’m going to a bank, Zenith Bank, which is just a throw away from here in Umuchu to get money so that I can go back to my family.”
All my pleas fell on deaf ears as they insisted that I must ‘settle’ them before I pass. I said they don’t have conscience despite all the problems we are passing through now and you are looking for money while other Police officers somewhere are contributing and helping the government to make peace and help humanity. But they are proud enough to tell me that I must ‘roja’ them. And I told them to their face that they are wicked asking me for money before I pass.
“They shot at my tyres and you can see people gathered here. Does this signify that there is no movement here? No! It’s simply because they want money from me and people are watching. The Police officer shot my tyres, destroyed my car and threatened to kill me (showing the Police officer involved). You said no movement and people are moving round but because I rejected giving you bribe, you threatened to kill me because I want to go and collect money from bank over there and the market here is busy. Despite the Coronavirus situation in the country, which has drained people’s pockets, you still want people to bribe you before they can pass.”
The Policeman in question was seen asking Henry Jones if he understands the law and Jones replied if the government has ordered that people should not go to banks to withdraw money to take care of their families.
Towards the end of the video, three other policemen joined their colleague trying to open Jones’ vehicle door asking him to come down from the car.
Sources said that immediately this was brought to the attention of Police authorities, they swung into action, ordering swift investigations into the shooting and allegations of asking for bribe.
On Tuesday, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr Mohammed Adamu, had warned that any Police personnel involved in soliciting or taking bribes during this lockdown “will be heavily sanctioned.”
Adamu who spoke during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja said that in deploying security agents to enforce the lockdown, there was a Standard Operating Procedure to ensure that those not supposed to move are not allowed to move, while those allowed are given unfettered access, with, respect to rights of citizens.
He said in situations where they go beyond their mandates to receive bribes, members of the public should report such as their civic responsibility so that actions can be taken prevent them.
Adamu called on the public to report any other form of misbehavior by Police officers as well as activities of criminals taking advantage of the lockdown immediately, to the Police Public Relations Officers in the various state commands.
This is even as the Police boss promised to make available telephone numbers so that members of the public will immediately report any security agent taking bribes from unauthorized persons to allow them move freely during the lockdown.