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Lawyers want rogue NSCDC officials charged with robbery, attempted murder

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Afeez Hanafi

Lawyers and human rights activists have demanded the prosecution of 12 officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Lagos State Command, involved in the alleged robbery and torture of two tanker drivers and a manager.

They said the officials should be charged with abuse of office, robbery and attempted murder while their past conduct should be investigated.

PUNCH Metro had reported that a team of the corps had flagged down a diesel-laden tanker driven by one Lawal Amobi around 6pm on Friday, May 5, along Wilmer Road, Ajegunle, asking him to produce the product’s waybill and an operating licence issued by the Department of Petroleum Resources.

He had begged the team that the licence was not with him. But on their insistence to see it, he called the manager of the firm that he works with, Tolu Oyinloye, who brought a photocopy of the document.

The officials reportedly seized the documents and demanded a N5,000 bribe, while the manager begged them with N500, saying the vehicle documents were complete.

They were said to have zoomed off in their van with number plate, CD 167 A01, after collecting N500, without releasing the papers.

The workers followed them in a motorcycle to Lacasera Bus Stop, Mile 2, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, where they met another tanker driver, Abolore Ajiroba, being assaulted by another team of the corps.

It was reported that the men, apart from inflicting injuries on Amobi’s face and back, robbed him of two phones and a sum of N32,000, while the manager was dispossessed of N48,000, a wristwatch and an Infinix phone.

As Amobi and the manager ran to escape the torture, the officials were said to have shot at them.

The state command of the NSCDC had said 12 officials responsible for the acts had been suspended and taken into custody.

A lawyer and President of the Committee for the Defence of Democracy, Malachy Ugummadu, described the incident as unfortunate, adding that the officials should be charged with bribery, armed robbery and attempted murder.

He said, “It is unfortunate that such criminally-minded elements were not just at the level of conceiving their criminal intention, but had put it into practice by harassing, extorting money fraudulently and attempting to kill. It is unfortunate for the NSCDC, an organisation that grew from a humble beginning to a formidable security agency, to have such ill-disposed officials. It is the responsibility of the NSCDC leadership to expose them.

“There is an offence of corruption bordering on bribery and abuse of office by exerting the forces they have against those they should defend. There are also offences of armed robbery and attempted murder. This case should be followed up to a logical conclusion where conviction can be secured.”

A human rights lawyer, Wahab Shittu, said the erring operatives should be dismissed and called on the Lagos State Attorney General to wade into the matter by ensuring diligent prosecution.

He said, “Beyond the suspension, they also need to be prosecuted for assault, extortion, abuse of office and corruption. This is not something we should let go; it will serve as a bad precedence. The Attorney General of Lagos State should take it up as a matter of urgency and the security officials should be prosecuted. In the mean time, they should be relieved of their jobs. We cannot continue to fund people who have such criminal tendencies from the public purse. We are all watching to see how the case goes.”

The Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Debo Adeniran, said further investigations should be conducted into the past conduct of the men, adding that they were unfit to protect lives and property.

“The NSCDC is supposed to protect lives and property. When the officials now turned into assailants, it means things have gone awry, and such behaviour should not be allowed. They should be further investigated to know if they have been carrying out such atrocious acts in the past. If they are found culpable, they should be dismissed.

“They should be tried for attempted murder and robbery; all of that will give them life imprisonment. Those people can no longer be entrusted with security of lives and property whether they are found guilty or not,” he said.

A social worker and public-interest lawyer, Taiwo Akinlami, stated that the trigger-happy officials should be punished accordingly, while their colleagues should be retrained in the ethics and responsibilities of the corps.

“Their conduct is abuse of office, and I believe that in the law that set up the NSCDC, how they should be dealt with is clear. This kind of impunity should not even exist in the first instance,” he added.

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