By Emma Nnadozie
She stands proudly in full uniform at strategic highways and junctions in Lagos state, flagging down motorists and soliciting for money openly. The tall, elegant black lady clad in the blue black police uniform with a cap to match smartly parades the length and breadth of the major highways leading towards Apapa and the populous Orile.
Her major operational points are the intersection leading to Apapa from Mile 2 Bridge after Fagbem filling station and the ever-busy spot at Doyin in Orile area of Lagos state where motorists are virtually forced to part with money. Her credibility has never been doubted by her traumatized victims but a closer observation and scrutiny of her mode of operation clearly smacks of illegality.
This is especially after one notices glaringly that her blue police shirt is stained with dirt while her black trousers are loosely held with dirty white threads and half torn buttons.
Yet, she continues to operate without hindrance even in the full glare of other policemen officially assigned to carry out duties in her areas of operation. Indicatively, discernible minds will clearly conclude that it is a game of ‘to your tents oh Isreal’ as both parties, though putting on same police uniforms, indulge in different methodologies.
While the official team which is made up of no fewer than four armed men with their ranks hanging on their shoulders, take time to flag down motorists, check particulars, carry out searches and either allow them go or book them, the female lone ranger in same uniform is unarmed but simply stretches out her palms and openly demands that motorists give her money.
She even blocks heavy duty vehicles and trucks from passing freely only to end up demanding, in a hoarse but thinly veiled authoritative voice, that she be settled.
She has no preference in choosing her victims and shockingly, where she normally positions herself at Mile 2 is a notorious den of traffic robbers and area boys who have been killing and maiming people especially motorists stuck in the notorious Apapa/Oshodi gridlock.
The only difference between the female police officer and the dare-devil gangsters is that while she operates unarmed, the gangsters are armed to the teeth with all kinds of dangerous weapons.
Her modus operandi is simply to position herself strategically in a busy area of the road and openly demands money from motorists.
She barely asks after vehicle particulars but simply opens her arms requesting for whatever the motorists or motorcyclists could offer.
She takes as little as N5 or N10 but in most cases, bewildered motorists simply stick different folded naira denominations into her open palm and proceed with their journey.
Petit traders and artisans at Mile 2 where she operates told Crime Guard that she appears daily at the scene between 11am to 12noon or sometimes in the evening hours when traffic is very heavy on the route.
They told our reporter that she carries out her extortion in the full glare of some of her colleagues officially posted to the area. One of them alleged that she was dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force and imprisoned over a yet-to-be ascertained offence but as soon as she was discharged, she hit the roads, in full police uniform, soliciting for money openly.
A motorcyclist, Mohammed Ali, said she used the dirty uniform to also get free rides from motorists and motorcyclists each time she felt like going home or relocating to other areas of her operation.
One Ibrahim Usman alleged that the police woman collected the sum of thirty five thousand naira from him for just plying the road from Fagbem to Mile two bridge.
Crime Guard encountered the female police officer while she was on duty and the following conversation ensued:
Vanguard: Officer, please come. I always see you here and you work very hard. Which division are you from?
Officer: I am Inspector Joy Iyare. I work at Ikeja, but, I usually come down here to hustle,I work in the traffic section, and I am a provost.
Vanguard: Why are you here extorting money openly?
Officer: If I am in the office, there is nothing there for me, so, I move out to hustle. This is not the only place I work. When I finish from here, I will move down to somewhere else to continue making money.
Vanguard: How much do you make daily?
Officer: Some days I make One thousand naira, sometimes, I make more, but, it’s usually little.
Vanguard: Were you posted officially here?
Officer: I told you that I work in Ikeja but I come here to hustle.
Vanguard: Where were you trained as a policeman?
Officer: I studied at Ikperu long ago, I am a police officer.
Vanguard: How come you work alone?
Officer: Police men don’t allow me to work with them. Whenever I am working with them, they will say I want to put them in trouble, and that I should work alone, not with them.
Vanguard: Which kinds of vehicle owners give you bigger money?
Officer: Private vehicle owners give me better money. Those commercial vehicles give me just fifty naira, and sometimes, hundred naira.
Vanguard: Do you check their particulars and other necessary things?
Officer: No. I don’t check their particulars, this place is express. I just collect my money and let them go.
Vanguard: Don’t you think what you are doing is illegal and is tarnishing the image of the police?
Officer: Are you a police officer?
Vanguard: No, I sell cars down there.
Officer: I am simply hustling and that’s all. I want to go.
Vanguard: Is it true that you were once tried and jailed and as soon as you came out, you started extorting money openly?
Officer: I have told you that I am simply making my money here. That’s all. I am goingooo.
Vanguard: Have you ever being arrested for this illegal thing you are doing here?
Officer: if they get tired of arresting me, they will leave me. Leave me alone, I want to continue with my business.
Vanguard: (Clutching N500 to entice her for more revelations), this money is for you. Please tell me who gave you this uniform.
Officer: (Quickly snatches the money and dashes across the road saying) Leave me alone let me fight for my survival.
Vanguard: Where are you from?
Officer: I am from Agbor in Edo state. (She disappeared from the scene and continued with her operation).