An oil marketer, Kolade Azeez, has accused five policemen attached to the Lagos State Police Command of extortion.
Azeez, who is the Managing Director of Azkol Oil, alleged that the policemen stormed his company in Ore, Ondo State, and arrested the manager for allegedly buying aviation products.
The marketer told PUNCH Metro that the policemen, who were led by the Isolo Divisional Crime Officer, allegedly claimed that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was aware of their mission.
He said the policemen forcefully took N5m from his company, adding that the IG, whom he later met at an airport in Istanbul, Turkey, denied the operation.
Although the DCO and three of the cops had been reportedly identified and arrested, the 47-year-old said his money had not been refunded.
He said, “On November 19, 2016, my manager bought kerosene at the rate of N193 per litre and on January 9, 2017, five policemen came to my company and claimed that they were working directly with the Inspector-General of Police.
“The policemen arrested my manager and took him to the police command headquarters in Benin, Edo State. They said the IG sent them to arrest him for buying aviation product and to recover the money of the product we bought. This was despite the fact that it was only kerosene that we bought.”
Azeez, who noted that his manager had just undergone a surgical operation at the time of his arrest, explained that he called a business partner to assist in complaining to the Edo State Commissioner of Police.
He said the Edo State CP claimed not to be aware of the arrest and advised him to settle his differences with the policemen.
The Osun State indigene said when he approached the cops; he was mandated to pay N320 per litre, although he bought the kerosene for N193 per litre.
“They took N5,088,000 to release my manager. When I returned to the country in February 2017, I went to report at a police station in Ore.
“In March 2017, I reported at the Federal Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Alagbon, Ikoyi, but nothing was done.
“On October 14, 2017, I travelled out again and had a stopover at Istanbul, Turkey, where I saw the IG, who also had a stopover. I approached him and explained everything to him and he denied sending the men.
“He told me that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police was coming to meet him at the airport. He handed me over to the Lagos CP, who promised to take up the matter,” Azeez said.
Azeez said the Lagos CP, Edgal Imohimi, invited him to the command headquarters in Ikeja, where he wrote a statement, adding that two police teams were detailed to look into the case.
He noted that based on the investigation carried out, it was discovered that the policemen were allegedly led in the illegal operation by the Divisional Crime Officer of Isolo Police Station, Bukar Mohammed.
The managing director said Imohimi invited his company’s manager, who identified three of the cops in the CP’s office.
“We discovered that the policemen, who claimed to be from Abuja, were actually attached to the Lagos State Police Command. They tried to dodge their faces, but my manager identified them and they were arrested. A car was also recovered from them.
“On April 25, the CP invited everybody, but he was unable to see us. When I called the CP, he directed me to the police officer investigating the case. When I called the officer, he said he was still on it. At a point, the officer said he had been transferred from the unit. Since then, I have not heard anything about the case,” he added.
Azeez, who said he wanted justice in the matter, demanded that his money be refunded.When contacted, the DCO said he lead a team to the filling station, but refused to comment further.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, who confirmed the arrest of the policemen, said the cops had been absolved of blame.
He said, “When a policeman is accused of an offence and it is investigated and found wanting, he will be punished.
“The policemen were arrested, interrogated and it was discovered that they had finished their job and the matter charged to court; so they were released.
“It is a case of people who bought stolen petroleum product at a ridiculously low price and the case was referred for investigation.
“Whenever such a thing happens, the police are duty-bound to go after such people and quite a number of them were arrested and the matter was charged to court.
“The policemen did not have any reason to come after them in the first place, if not that somebody came and reported that a tanker driver who was supposed to take the product to Kano State diverted it to Ondo State.
“If the complainant said what he bought was kerosene; to an ordinary person, he would never know the difference between an aviation fuel and kerosene; it is only an expert that would tell him because the two smell and look alike.”
But Azeez denied the claim that the matter was charged to court, adding that all the marketers arrested paid a certain amount to the policemen.
He, however, urged the police to come forward with the proof that the matter was charged to court, stating that it was just an excuse to frustrate the case.