A phone dealer, Toyin Shokefun, has faulted the release of a suspected burglar, identified only as Omotola, by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Lagos State Police Command, saying the officers were compromised.
Shokefun alleged that Omotola was let off the hook after the Investigating Police Officer, Omoniyi, aka Omo, was given money by “gang members” of the suspect.
we learnt that Shokefun’s shop on Bankole Street, Agege, was burgled on August 12, 2017, from where 52 phones valued at N1.5m were stolen.
According to the 28-year-old, while some of the phones were new, others were brought to her for repairs. Also stolen were a laptop and a camera.
The Remo, Ogun State indigene said she invited policemen from the Alabo Police Station to the scene, who took photographs and promised to get back to her.
“A friend, however, advised me that instead of waiting for the police, I should check those displaying phones for sales along the railway line in the community. She said most of their phones were usually stolen.
“We were both checking around when we came across the table of Omotola, who had five of the phones we were looking for.
“We quietly returned to the police station and reported our findings. Some policemen were detailed to follow us and we arrested the man,” she added.
Shokefun said she immediately observed familiarity between the policemen and the suspect, adding that they might have had dealings in the past.
She said she later became uncomfortable with the way the policemen at the station were handling the case and asked for a transfer.
The matter was said to have been taken to the SARS office in Ikeja, where the suspect was detained and some of the exhibits recovered.
Shokefun said, “The SARS men promised to investigate the matter, but first demanded a deposit of N50,000 for the job. I begged them and gave a deposit of N20,000.
“After they grilled the man, he said he was not the one that broke into my shop, but two members of his gang did the job. He said they only brought part of the phones for him to sell.
“By the time we returned to the SARS office, we learnt that he had given the police the names of the two accomplices. The IPO, Omoniyi, promised to arrest the accomplices.”
The complainant said she observed that anytime she called for an update on the case, the IPO would shun her, saying he had other cases to attend to.
She said two weeks after the matter got to SARS, she called Omoniyi and he asked her to stop bothering him.
“Another time when I called, he said he had released the suspect. He said the man did not talk about paying for my stolen phones and he would charge the case to court later. But he had earlier told us that he knew members of the gang and they were powerful robbers. I was surprised he said he had released the man,” Shokefun added.
The victim said a lawyer friend, whom she approached for assistance to compel Omoniyi to do the right thing, said the policeman was notorious for such behaviour.
After reportedly going to the SARS office several times without any success, the lawyer gave up.
“He dribbled the lawyer several times. The lawyer said when he went to see him at the state command, Omoniyi mocked him. The lawyer said he didn’t want to write a petition against him because of their friendship.
“I was told that the IPO could decide to arraign the suspect on light charges just to get rid of the case. I want the police to reopen the case, arrest the suspect and his accomplices and get back my stolen property or its value.
“I just started selling phones; I have been repairing phones for the past 10 years and the owners of some of the stolen phones have not allowed me to rest. I have only been asking for their understanding and saying the case is still at SARS,” she said.
The Officer-in-Charge of SARS, Muhammed Sanusi, while frowning on the incident, which he said was against the ethics of the Force, asked to see the complainant.
He said, “I will never allow that under my watch. Please ask the woman to see me. I will look into the case expeditiously.”