Residents of Idimu and its environs in Lagos State have raised the alarm over incessant harassment by policemen.
They accused the policemen attached to the Idimu Police Division of intimidating and extorting money from them.
They alleged that the policemen who were usually in mufti always made false accusations against them, especially the youth.
According to a resident, Henry Okoye, the policemen under the guise of arresting advance fee fraudsters would hang around banks on the Egbeda-Idimu Road and stop people coming out of the banks.
He said, “The activities of these policemen have assumed an alarming dimension. If you put on casual wears especially three- quarter length trousers and a T-shirt to any bank in this area, these policemen would stop you after leaving the bank and accuse you of being a ‘yahoo boy.’
“Even If you identify yourself properly with a valid Identity card, they wouldn’t listen to your plea. They will demand money from you and when you refuse they will take you to their station and cook up lies against you.”
A trader in the area, Omobolaji Gabriel, said the policemen slapped and beat their victims when they declined to yield to their demands.
She said despite making complaints to superior police officers at the station, nothing had been done to stop the incessant harassment.
She said, “I have witnessed much of the harassment and youths in this community no longer walk freely because of the nefarious activities of these policemen.
“The last time it happened in my presence, the policemen chased the victim who just left the bank to the front of my shop.
“I was surprised that they were asking the young man how much was in his pocket. Afterwards, they manhandled him to the extent that they fell into the gutter.”
A victim, Adesola Bakare, said he was harassed in August by two policemen in mufti who chased him with a motorcycle.
He said, “That day, I dressed casually and all of a sudden they accosted me after flashing their walkie talkie. They showed me their identity cards.
“I identified myself to them as a civil servant, but in their usual manner, they attempted to snatch my ID card from me. They also wanted to whisk me away on their bike, without telling me what my offence was.
“However, I stood my ground and refused to follow them. They later left me after a crowd had gathered at the scene.”
Another resident, Feyisara Lawal, said, “When they accosted me, they searched me and they found the $700 I withdrew from my account on me. Despite showing them all my bank documents, they insisted that I was a ‘yahoo boy.’
“I was shocked when I got to the station and they marked the file they opened for me as ‘stealing.’ I was detained for many hours before I was released after so much pressure from higher authorities.”
When contacted on the telephone, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, said she was not aware of such complaints.
“This is the first time I’m hearing that and nobody has brought such complaints to my notice,” she said.