..As LASG sack two officers over extortion
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
A suspect, Omoakin Friday Kojo, 35, a citizen of Togo who was arrested by operatives of the Lagos State Task Force have revealed how his gang had been extorting money from unsuspecting people who are fond of crossing express roads at pedestrian bridges for the past six years across Lagos State, undetected.
In a similar situation, the Special Adviser on Central Business Districts, CBD, Prince Olarenwaju Elegushi said two enforcement officers operating in Lagos Island have been dismissed over cases of extortion and illegal arrest.
Kojo, who was arrested around Ikeja railway line for impersonation and extorting with a fake Lagos Environmental Sanitation Corps, LAGESC, identity card, confessed to have been illegally arresting pedestrians and extorting money from them with his fake identity card in the last six years.
Chairman of the Lagos State Task Force Superintendent of Police, SP, Olayinka Egbeyemi disclosed that the suspect was arrested by the enforcement team of the Agency after an official complaint about illegal activities of the suspect was lodged by the LAGESC.
Egbeyemi disclosed further that the suspect popularly called ‘FRYO’ said that the suspect and his cohorts who were at large paraded themselves as officers of LAGESC with fake identity cards in disguise and defrauded their victims thereby, defaming the agency.
According to him, preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect and his cohorts had been long in the illegal business across the state arresting pedestrians who crosses express roads refusing to use pedestrian bridges provided by the government.
Egbeyemi, noted that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had through on-going developmental projects across the state, particularly the construction of additional modernised pedestrian bridges and lay-bys for commuters along major highways to keep free flow of traffic.
He therefore, warned members of the public to be wary of touts going around impersonating as law enforcement officer of the state. He added that the State Commissioner of Police, CP, Edgal Imohimi has directed that the suspect be charged to court.
Imohimi further charged the task to ensure that other perpetrators at large were arrested and brought to book to serve as deterrent to others.
The agency, hereby, enjoined members of the public to stop crossing highways and make use of pedestrian bridges for safety of their lives.
The suspect confessed he is a member of a four man gang whose routine operations cut across Ikeja, Berger, Oshodi, Ojota, Ojodu and Mile 2, among others.
“I made an average of N8,000 to N10,000 per day from arresting pedestrians who would preferred not to be prosecuted in court.
“I made more money in the morning when people were rushing to work and also in the evening when they were going home as they rushed crossing express roads defying the pedestrian bridges,” Kojo confessed.
The suspect who claimed to still be using his old Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI, identity card to defraud his victims, however, appealed to government to tamper justice with mercy that he is ready to be of a good character and go back to his country, Togo if pardoned.
Elegushi said the dismissal of the two officers, Babatunde Scale and Abioye Bakare, was part of disciplinary measures by the agency to instill discipline, re-orientate and awaken a renewed mindset of staff, monitoring officers as well as volunteer corps towards a better service delivery.
While reiterating the state government resolve to weed out bad eggs among staff of the agency, he maintained that his agency would not tolerate any illegality by its officers and will continually discipline any officers found wanting in the discharge of their duties.
The Special Adviser said “To instill discipline among our staff, the Agency has dismissed a number of enforcement officers, volunteer corps as well as sanitation corps whose actions undermined the objectives of the Agency and compromised the public image of government. Before now, four monitoring officers and some volunteers were dismissed for dereliction of duty. Today, two officers who were trying to extort money from a traffic offender illegally where caught and summarily dismissed”.
While advising motorists, business operators as well as visitors to adhere to traffic, sanitation and security rules when within the business districts, Elegushi urged members of the public with complaints on CBD enforcement operations as well as activities bothering on extortion, molestation or assault to report such complaints to his office.