Men of the Nigerian police during the coronavirus lockdown assaulted and collected bribes from us to allow free movement, Uke residents have said.
Uke community residents in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarwa state made this known while speaking to the Media Advocacy West Africa Foundation team who visited the community to interact with the people and to gauge the impact of coronavirus on them.
The resident recounting how the police assaulted and extorted money from them said the officers mounted a checkpoint at the Uke junction after the bridge and were collecting the sum of N500 and N1, 000 to allow for free movement.
They independently gave accounts of how the police extorted monies from traders to allow them to come into the community with their goods.
One of the community residents narrated how her mother was forced to pay the sum of N1, 000 before she was allowed to bring in her goods to the community.
She disclosed that the officers stopped her mom together with the commercial tricycle (Keke) operator who was conveying her goods to the store, and, demanded she pays one N1, 000 or she returns the goods wherever she was coming from.
Nothing having any other option, she gave the police the sum of N1, 000 while they allowed her to move in the goods.
Mr. Bala a community resident who prefers only his first name mentioned narrated to the MAWA team how the police officers during the coronavirus lockdown extorted monies from the residents.
He, however, said commercial motorcycle and tricycle riders were the most victims. Adding that some of them who attempted to refuse to give bribes were beaten and their bike seized.
“This coronavirus lockdown was a boom time for the police, they made huge money, they were just extorting money from people anyhow they like,” Bala said.
Two of the commercial motorcycle operators told the MAWA team that they were extorted by the police officers during the coronavirus lockdown, but, said they thank God the lockdown is over while they can now move freely without police harassment.
A police officer who spoke to the MAWA team and did not want his name mentioned because he is not authorized to speak on the issue, confirmed there was a roadblock in the community during the coronavirus lockdown, but, denied all allegations of extortion by the officers.
He, however, added that officers deployed to the community during the coronavirus lockdown worked effectively to ensure total compliance with the federal government stay-at-home directive.
This report is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa OSIWA