By Ebere Aham
LAGOS—AN Ikeja Magistrate’s Court, Lagos, yesterday, remanded four women in prison custody, who were arraigned on a two-count charge of unlawful possession of police uniforms and accoutrements, dealing in and sale of police uniforms and accoutrements preferred against them by police.
The women, who were arrested last Monday by the police in Lagos for illegally selling police uniforms and other paraphernalia at a factory inside the Police College, Ikeja, blamed their indulgence on the need to eke out a living. This is as further investigation revealed that some police uniforms used by robbers in the state were bought from the factory.
The suspects, who were also discovered to be selling walkie talkies, disclosed that they sold the materials to both serving policemen and civilians for between N300 and N900.
During an interaction with the suspects, who were arraigned at the Ikeja Magistrate’s Court yesterday, one of them, Oluchi Nwarihe, a Senior Secondary Certificate holder, from Mbaino, Imo State, said: “I was arrested because I sold black materials to both policemen and civilians, which they used to sew trousers.
“The material is not exclusive to just policemen. It is for everyone. So I do not know why I should be arrested. I have been selling these materials for about two years now and there has been no complaints.
“I used to sew the material before for those who wanted, but I stopped so I can have time to trade. It did not occur to me that criminally-minded people would want to buy the material and sew to foment trouble.
“The materials are sold between N300 and N900.”
On her part, 40-year-old Fatima, a mother of four, who hails from Kwara State, said: “I was arrested by the police because they saw black materials and chinos materials in my shop. They saw police logos on some of the materials. I was arrested because they said I am not authorised to sell police material.
“I buy them from Badagry and sell to interested people. I have been selling for about two years now and never knew that I was not supposed to sell the material.
“I sold them to eke a living for myself and my children. Even Fulani hawkers sell it too. That is to show you the extent to which the trade is common.”
The third suspect, Chioma Ike (25), a mother of one from Imo State, was arrested for selling police wallets and walkie talkies.
She said: “Everybody use wallets, so I do not understand why I was arrested by the police for just selling wallets. The court will state the case better,” she said, disclosing that she had been selling for six months.
However, on her part, the fourth suspect, Juliet Egbogbiaje, a mother of one, in whose shop police wallets were recovered, blamed her indulgence on ignorance.
She said: “I have been in the business for one year now. If I knew that it was illegal, I would have found another line of business. All of these were just to keep body and soul together. If I am released, I will never sell it again.”
The suspects were arrested after an undercover policeman approached one of the women to sew a complete police uniform for him, with the name Jide Usman, with full ceremonial badges and identification number 341721 on it.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge and were granted bail by Magistrate Olayinka in the sum of N300,000 and two sureties each with two years tax clearance.
But they could not meet the bail conditions and were subsequently remanded at Kirikiri Security Prisons.