Nigerian police officers enforcing the coronavirus lockdown in the Masaka area of Nasarawa state have been reported to have allegedly extorted the sum of N10k from a bar owner, the Media Advocacy West Africa Foundation has learned.
Miss. Mercy, a witness narrated to the MAWA team how police stormed the Angwa mission area of Masaka, arrested a lady who owns and operates beer a palour in the area and forcefully collected the sum of N10k from her as a bribe.
Mercy said immediately the officers stormed the area, they arrested the lady and seized some of her crates while threatening to take her to the station and detain her for violating the coronavirus lockdown directive.
Out of fear arising from the police harassment and intimidation, the lady gave the police officers the sum of N10k so they do not take her to the police station and be detained.
Mercy, however, said immediately she gave the money to the police, the officers allowed her to sell and left the scene.
“I felt very angry watching police officers took her N10k away for alleged violation of coronavirus order, but there is nothing I can do, immediately she gave them the money, they left the place,” mercy said.
Other residents who spoke to the MAWA team gave different accounts of how they witnessed police officers assaulting and collecting bribes from business owners in Masaka to allow them to sell.
A police officer from Masaka division who spoke to MAWA over the issue without authorization from his senior confirmed police harassment and intimidation in Masaka during the lockdown, but said only those who disobeyed the federal government stay at home directive were harassed.
The officer, however, appealed to the public to report any police officer found extorting money from the people, pointing out that police authority does not take cases of extortion likely, assuring that any officer found guilty of extortion are usually dismissed.
This report is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa OSIWA