Warri Residents Protest Illegal Police Activities

Source: thewillnigeria.com

BEVERLY HILLS, February 19, (THEWILL) -Residents of Warri, the commercial nerve centre of Delta State, have raised the alarm over what they termed illegal police road blocks, unlawful arrest and detention in the city.

Accusing the police of indulging in 'unwholesome practices' targeted against residents, the concerned citizens on Tuesday said it had been discovered that whenever the police needed to "show they are working", they would turn to innocent residents.

The residents who took their protest  to the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ)  Press Centre in Warri to draw the attention of the police hierarchy in Abuja and Asaba to their plight, said  recent actions of the police in the metropolis have only lowered their credibility as protector of lives and property of law-abiding citizens.

A resident said that instead of assuring residents of security, the local police now instill fear on people following their motive of "showing result" before their boss.

Specifically, the protesters decried the "unfriendly disposition" of policemen at the "B" Division also known as Avenue Police Station in Warri.

They said the actions of the police have become more worrisome now that people have just started enjoying the peace and security agenda of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan which they said has enhanced night life in the State.

They also expressed displeasure that the police are now making it difficult for people to exercise their right to freedom of movement particularly in the evening hours.

"We have come to you as the watchdog of the society to help us reach out to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Commissioner of Police, Delta State Command, Ikechukwu Aduba, and the Delta State Government and let them know the embarrassment that has become of police, particularly the B-Division Police in Warri.

"The other day, they went round the whole of Okumagba Avenue, arresting indiscriminately people who were relaxing at beer palours, subjecting them to bail ranging from N3,000 to N5,000 depending on your bargaining power.

"A boy who was returning from lesson whose photograph we have here was arrested and injured with the butt of police riffle.

"Another young boy who went to buy 'akara' (bean cake) was arrested and all of them bundled to the police station.

"Just recently, another young boy who was returning from work carrying a video camera was accosted and despite his explanations that he hired the camera, they insisted that he must take them to the owner which he obliged.

"But when they got there, the police arrested the owner of the camera and took him to the station in spite of the fact that the receipt of the camera was produced," a representative of the protesters said during the rally.

The residents said that given history of innocent people being framed by the police, they are now afraid  that the police would soon "turn all law-abiding residents to their suspects" one day just to impose a "bail fee" on them.

A Police source said the reason given by the police is that they were mandated to raid the city of all forms of crimes and needed to show that they are working and investigating some crimes.

"Is that the kind of job they are sent here to do? Instead of looking for armed robbers and kidnappers they are busy arresting innocent citizens going about their legitimate businesses," the protesting residents however querried.

A resident, who gave his name as Oghenekevwe Onome, said another issue that is giving serious concern is the issue of illegal roadblock within Okumagba Avenue where unsuspecting commuters and pedestrians alike are subjected to embarrassment and extortion.

When contacted over the allegations, the Police Chief in the area, urged the people of the area to always report to him whenever his men are engaging in illegal operations.

The Chief Superintendent of Police in-charge of "B" Division in Warri, a police station which was particularly accused by the residents, Mr.

Garaje Gado,  said although his men are not blameless, members of the public should also be blamed for complicity because the officers are product of the society.

Reacting further to the allegations, Gado said the Police Division would not tolerate any act of unlawfulness and overzealousness by its men and officers.

Gado, who spoke with a team of journalists from the Warri Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ, however condemned officers who unlawfully harass residents of the area who are on their legitimate business.

He vowed that the Division under his watch would not condone any form of lawlessness by men who are supposed to uphold the law.

The police chief therefore solicited the support of the residents of the area for better policing of lives and property in the Division.