The governor of Edo State was called on by the Benin Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to review the 10 pm to 6 am curfew imposed in the state in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, alleging that security agencies were using the opportunity to extort innocent persons.
A statement by the branch’s Chairman and Secretary, Pius Oiwoh and Andrew Lawani said the NBA had received several complaints about the attitude of the police, alleging that the security forces have turned it into an extortion ring and a huge money-spinner.
The statement alleged that a matron, who was conveying a diabetic student to St Philomena Hospital in Benin City was detained by the police on Friday night until the intervention of the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu “who had to personally come to the scene at Dawson Akpakpava to facilitate movement of the Matron and the patient to the hospital where they could access medical attention.
“Prior to this latest incident, we have had reports of some security personnel who detain pregnant women and their family members’ enroute labour wards and are only released after they have been extorted.
The Commissioner of Police has been kind enough to intervene at the behest of the Bar in some of these very pathetic situations.
The NBA cautioned the security personnel to be mindful of the fact it was the several cases of injustices against people that triggered the #EndSARS protests last year.
But when contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Kotongs Bello, denied the allegation of extortion, saying “The issue of the deputy governor is not an issue of extortion, it was an issue that they stopped them from moving.
There is a law set by the state government which we are enforcing when it is 10 pm, except for reason of ill-health, there is no other reason that you are to move.
“When apprehended, you are taken to a mobile court where you will pay a fine for violating the law, so it is not extortion, police are not doctors, if somebody is sick, you have to seriously verify that the person is sick before the person can be considered.
We are working by the directive of the governor through the Commissioner of Police, if you don’t want to be taken to a mobile court to pay a fine, then don’t come out.”