Imo Commissioner of Police Must Hear This

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By Kelechi Mejuobi

Exactly at 6:30pm of Tuesday 8th March, 2022, I was driven by unbridled frustration, annoyance and anger to walk into one of the police divisional offices in Owerri for a complain.

I don’t know and can’t recall walking into a police formation in the past to lodge a protest against somebody. It was a difficult task for me as I cursed myself venturing into such difficult task while attempting to cross the police gate towards the door leading into the counter to make a report.

On Monday, my car developed movement challenges that impeded the progress each time I pressed the throttle pedal hard. I witnessed embarrassing moments for a while before I decided to see a motor mechanic. The mechanic is not only well know to me for more than ten years, but appeared matured to relate with. I managed to drive down to his shop on Owerri Portharcourt road where I allowed him to join me for a ride to feel the difficulties encountered. After about few minutes’ drive, he asked me to return to his shop where he went under to remove one of the starting censors he claimed was faulty and I needed to purchase another one for replacement.

I paced to New Market road area where spare parts are sold in Owerri metropolis and came back quickly before he fixed it . We moved again for another round of drive test which still confirmed there was a problem unrelated to the changed starting censor. The mechanic suggested fuel pump capacity wasn’t enough to power the vehicle.

I told him recently I bought a new one. At that point, I left the vehicle with the mechanic for him to move to the New Market area to scale the capacity of fuel point while I dashed to office with another car for urgent attention.

To end the story, phone exchanges between the mechanic and myself said to the replacement of the fuel pump which he claimed had solved the persistent movement problem.

Later that evening, I dropped the other car home and moved to the mechanic work shop to pick the car after efforts I made to get him on phone before coming failed. I went to his shop but met his absence while the vehicle was not available. I spent more than an hour without no trace of him and my car. Grudgingly, I went home.

Before midnight, the mechanic called to inform me he will return the vehicle in the morning of the next day.  That he will trace my house location to drop it. I waited for him till noon of next day, yet no trace of his call or the vehicle. I moved to his shop for verification, yet no positive sign. At that point, I became apprehensive because his neigbours couldn’t offer tangible explanation about his whereabout. From morning till evening of that day, he was nowhere to be found including the vehicle.

Apparently aware of the insecurity in the state and upsurge of illicit acts in the society, I decided to play safe by reporting to nearby police for safety sake.

On getting to the police, I noticed a very care- free attitude on the part of the officers and men as I walked freely from the gate to the entrance unchallenged with no one concerned about my intention. I got worried because the officers of the division adopted laisse-faire approach to visitors check-ins into their premises. Considering the incessant attacks on police stations in the state by unknown gunmen, keeping such relaxed security apparatus in a division could be suicidal to the officers and men on duty.

 After I walked into the building, I met a lady in uniform and intimated her of my mission which was to report about disappearance of the mechanic and the vehicle.  After minutes of ignoring my tales she directed me to another officer I suspect is of senior rank based on courtesies extended to him during my short stay.

I told the male officer my purpose to the station was to report the matter in case the mechanic gets missing in the process, involved in accident or uses the vehicle for illegal and illicit acts that would get me implicated at the end of the investigation.

I informed the officer that in view of the activities of unknown gunmen, kidnappers, armed robbery and oil bunkering ravaging the society, I have come to report to police for necessary attention.

The officer welcomed my move and added that there was need to even investigate where the mechanic took the car for the two days he avoided me, to atleast serve as a deterrent to others who make use of customers vehicles entrusted in their care for private use. He asked a supposedly junior officer, a young lady to take my statement and guide me on how to put across my complaints on paper.

Immediately I finished scribing down the statement I relayed above, and stood up to leave thinking I had done the needful, the young woman asked me to sit down that I had done the first part remaining the second part which according to her was payment.

She quipped in casually that I will pay N20,000  to get the case going and I replied pardon. She said “some money”, I replied how much?

She came down to N10,000 after noticing my curiosity and uneasy calm disposition.  I asked for what would I drop the money when am yet to see the driver and my vehicle. She now added that N2,000 was for statement sheet, another amount of N3,000 for entry and opening  of the case file and then logistics money for them to go the mechanic workshop put at N5,000. I informed her that I came with vehicle for movement purposes. But she insisted on getting the N10,000 from me before further discussion on the matter. When I discovered she was desperate to extort the money from me, I informed her that irrespective of my predicament, I will as a Nigerian part away with an amount I consider as PR, but not the Division charging me a fee after I made official complaints.

I politely took my leave and moved away from the premises when I discovered she wasn’t ready.

I discovered that the primary interest of the woman police who gave me attention was centred on the amount of money I should drop and not on the gravity of the complaints.

My experience may be one out of many those who visit police stations for genuine reports face. It speaks volumes of the rot in the system.

One is not surprised with the popular saying that “Bail is free” but not free in police stations.