Some police officials at the Iyana-Iba Roundabout, Lagos State University (LASU) Gate, have allegedly attacked vendors in the area and burnt their newspapers because they failed to pay a sum of N200 ‘Christmas bribe.’
According to New Telegraph reports, the vendors stated that the extortion had been going on for long, but penultimate Friday the situation came to a head after the vendors unanimously said enough was enough.
The vendors disclosed that they refused to pay the bribe which irked the heavily armed policemen and prompted them to pounced on the vendors and confiscated their newspapers.
As if it was not enough, the police officials who allegedly claimed they were obeying the “orders from above” stopped the vendors from selling the remaining ones they had.
It was gathered that the policemen allegedly sent their ‘tax collectors’ on Tuesday, December 30, 2014 to threaten the vendors for refusing to ‘pay Christmas money.’
One of the vendors who pleaded anonymity said they had been selling newspapers in the area even before the policemen were deployed there.
He said, “The mobile policemen clamped down on us for no reason. We have been at this roundabout before the mobile policemen were deployed in this area. They were supposed to prevent break down of law and order in the university, but instead they started extorting money from us.
Another vendor added, “After the newspapers were seized, I went to complain to one of the senior officers. But he told us that they were acting on orders from above.” “The mobile policemen are in the habit of seizing our newspapers at this Iyana-Iba without reason.
“The Lagos State Commissioner of Police should take them away from this spot. We are selling newspapers here in order to make ends meet. This is the only business we are doing to feed our family.”
A third vendor said, “I was displaying my newspaper that morning when the mobile policemen, numbering about 10, walked to my stand. The senior officer among them ordered others to pick my newspapers. They destroyed my table. While they were destroying my table, I tried to confront them. But they were armed to teeth.
“These policemen have turned us to Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Every day, they send their errands boys to collect money from us. “When they were taking the newspapers away, I asked the senior officer where he expected me and my colleagues to get money to give them after they had burnt our source of livelihood.”
Additionally, one of the vendors whose table was destroyed during the attack said, “Before we left on Wednesday, the mobile policemen had sent some of their errand boys to threaten us for refusing to contribute to the ‘Christmas money’ other traders in the area given them.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Kenneth Nwosu, when contacted for confirmation denied having any knowledge of the incident.
He said, “We have warned our men to work according to the ethics and standard of the profession. The complaint of papers being burnt was not reported to the nearest police station by the vendors.