Officials of Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) Awkuzu, Anambra State, has refunded the sum of N20,000 allegedly extorted from an Onitsha based lawyer, identified as Okite as bail fee over a case of unlawful arrest and extortion.
Coordinator, Police Stakehokders Partnership Forum (PSPF) Anambra State, Prince Chris Azor who disclosed this to newsmen on Saturday, said the officers refunded the money in compliance with the directives of the Commissioner of Police, CP John Abang.
He said the legal practitioner, a member of the PSPF, had reported to the forum via its WhatsApp platform about the crime, commending the CP for his prompt response to public complaints and for standing up against corruption and human rights violations.
He said the Officer in Charge (O/C), Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) Awkuzu, had earlier put a call to the Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Okechukwu Nwanguma,
requesting him to ask the aggrieved party in a case of unlawful arrest and extortion to meet him in his office at Awkuzu for a refund of the sum extorted from them by some officials of SARS.
He said the complainant alleged that the men of SARS attached to Divisional Police Headquarters Ogidi in Idemili North LGA of the State while pursuing a suspect, ran through his family compound in Ogidi which has no wall fence.
He quoted the complainant as saying, “They arrested my two nephews; Kosisochukwu Okite and Chukwunonso Okite following their inability to catch their alleged target, insisting we must produce the alleged suspect who they claimed ran through my family compound.
“They hand-cuffed my two nephews and took them to Ogidi Police Station despite protests by their parents. They also scattered their father’s shop, beat up my niece, Chisom Okite and tore her clothes leaving her naked simply because she was disuading them from taking away her brothers who are innocent.”
“On getting to the station those SARS men remanded N100,000 as bail money from the boys’ father, Mr. Augustine Okite; apprehensive for the safety of his sons, he was literally forced to pay N20,000 for their freedom. The boys are home with their parents now after payment of N20,000.”
Azor added that the complainant put the cost of the damage the SARS men did to his elder brother’s shop at about N50,000.
“SARS men attached to Ogidi should be called to order and made to refund that sum of N20,000 they extorted as bail money from parents whose homes they invaded for no just cause and pay for the damages they did to their shop.”
According to Azor, the PPRO, Anambra Command, Haruna Mohammed, upon reading the complaint, immediately informed the CP who promptly directed that the OC SARS Awkuzu be contacted and directed to identify the officers responsible and ensure they refunded the money collected.
He said the CP further directed that the money be returned before 11:am.
“We are delighted to note that the victims had audience with the CP after they went to the O/C SARS and got refunded. They reported that the CP exhibited utmost civility and leadership; apologised to us on behalf of the Command for the excesses of the SARS men and made a commitment that disciplinary actions against the erring men will follow.
“The complainant later left CP’s office happy and satisfied that the injustice has been addressed and is still being addressed by the CP.” he added.