A 29-year-old banker, Adeyemi Ilesanmi, has accused men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of allegedly detaining and extorting money from him while on his way for a visa interview.
It was gathered that the police officers apprehended Ilesanmi close to the entrance to the United States Embassy on Victoria Island, Lagos, on June 10, 2019.
The officers, on realising that Ilesanmi was on his way for an interview, detained and threatened to make him miss his appointment if he did not ‘‘cooperate’’ with them.
The Ondo State indigene said he parted with a sum of N35,000, which he was made to transfer to an account given by the SARS men in order not to miss his interview.
He said, “I am based in Akure, Ondo State, and I travelled to Lagos for the purpose of the visa interview which was slated for June 10. I spent the night in Obalende and as early as 6.30am, I took a tricycle to Victoria Island. As soon as I alighted from the tricycle, I was apprehended by the SARS men.
“They were three in number and one of them asked me who I was. I identified myself by showing them my work identity card that I had on me. I also explained to them that I had an appointment at the US Embassy in the next 27 minutes.
“One of them said they were not interested in my explanation and that they wanted to check what I had with me. I obliged them but asked not to be delayed. He checked the date and time on my appointment letter and said he was going to hold on to it and make me miss my appointment if I didn’t cooperate.
“I was dragged into their van and driven to the nearest police post. I kept on reminding them that I had a visa interview and that they shouldn’t make me miss my appointment because I did not have anything incriminating on me. At some point, I had to start begging them and they said they would not release my documents until I settle them with N200,000.
“Eventually, one of them called me aside and said he knew how important the appointment was to me and that I should not jeopardise my chance at the embassy. He asked how much I had with me and I told him N2,000.”
Ilesanmi said the officers insisted that they would not collect such an amount from him, adding that he had to transfer N35,000 to an account provided by the SARS men before his documents were released to him.
He said, “The officers said they won’t collect the N2,000 from me. I had about N34,000 in my bank account and I had to call someone to send some money to me to make up for the N35,000 that they insisted on. I was forced to make a transfer of N35,000 into an account before my documents were released to me. I got to the embassy late but was still able to meet up. I had to pay so that I wouldn’t miss the interview, because I couldn’t afford to book another interview after putting in time to come to Lagos.
“I left Lagos immediately after the interview and I did not want to lodge a complaint until I had concrete evidence. I later realised that the account number I was given was that of a woman. I directed my complaint to the Police Complaint Response Unit through their online platform.”
When the Head of the Police CRU, ACP Marcus Basiran, was contacted, he replied a text message sent to his telephone thus, “You or he will be contacted soonest by the team that has been assigned the case.”
Ilesanmi, however, said when he was contacted by the unit, he was only told that the case would be looked into.
He stated, “The person who contacted me asked if I picked the name of any of the men and I told him that I was unable to pick the names on their identity cards, but I could tell that they were men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
“He told me that the only lead they had was the account number that I was made to pay into. I was told that they would work on it and flag the account. He said he would get back to me in the next two or three days.”