A United States-based Nigerian, Mr. Bamidele Famose, has raised the alarm over alleged corrupt practices by some local government officials in Ogun State, parading themselves as task force officials to extort motorists.
He called on the Police to carry out a detailed investigation that would expose the perpetrators.
Bamidele, who is on a visit to Nigeria, narrated how the task force officials extorted N67,000 from him, last Wednesday, while he was travelling from Osun State to Lagos.
In a petition to Ogun State Commissioner of Police, he narrated: “I bring to the attention of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Ogun State Government, civil society organisations, Nigerian Diaspora Organisation, NIDO, and the anti-corruption agencies, a case of criminal extortion by officials of Ogun State Task Force in the most savage and terrorist manner.
“I came home to Nigeria last week to attend to some personal business. I usually stay in Osogbo, Osun State, whenever I am in Nigeria. On July 4, 2023, I received a phone call from my shipping agent that my goods had arrived from the US and that I must take possession before 12 noon on July 5, 2023.
“I left Osogbo the following day at 5.30am., for Lagos. I got to Ojodu Berger by 10.30am. There was heavy traffic, vehicles were taking a detour.
“Since I was not too familiar with the area, I decided to slow down my speed and drove slowly by the side of the road, during which I beckoned on one of the security personnel controlling the traffic, for assistance.
“A man in mufti with a tag on his neck with the inscription ‘TASK FORCE’ came to attend to me. I greeted him first and inquired from him if the detour would take me to Oshodi. He said yes and then gladly offered to personally escort me to a safe and easier route to Oshodi, on the condition that I would give him transportation fare back, which I agreed to do. I immediately gave him N1,000.
“He entered my car and introduced himself as Mr. Ajayi from Ilesa, Osun State. Coincidentally, I am also from Ilesa. We struck a rapport. I thought I had found a reliable companion.
“To my consternation, he turned out to be a scammer. He later asked where l was coming from. I told him Osogbo. Instantly, his body language changed, as he perceived me to be a soft target to be scammed.
“He pretended to show me the quicker route to Oshodi, but took advantage of my little knowledge of the area and innocent trust to take me to the VIO office at No 4. Odozi Street, Ojodu Abiodun, Ogun State.
“As soon as I drove in, the entrance gate was shut in a banditry style. My vehicle was surrounded by four dangerously looking men. They pounced on my vehicle.
“He beckoned on a man in mufti, who he later introduced as his boss. The man asked for my offense. He lied. He told him that I parked by the road side without putting on the hazard light. Immediately, the boss ordered the four men to deflate the four tires of my vehicle, to which they respectfully obeyed.
“The boss later brought out a printed sheet of paper, where he showed me the penalty for the alleged offense, which he claimed was N250,000. He said because I was a first offender, I should pay the least amount on the paper, which was N67,000. Thereafter, he called a young man to do the capturing and other verifications of me.
“I told him that I did not commit any
crime and narrated my story. He was not ready to listen to my version. His actions were predetermined.
“When I considered my appointment with my shipping agent, the nightfall, the risk of staying with menacing and cruel people and, as a non violent, responsible adult, I was coerced to submit to his whims by pleading with him to accept the only N30,000 that I had with me.
”He accepted the N30,000 cash but still refused to let me off the entrapment. He demanded more money. I was forced to cough out N67,000 fully paid. They demanded my ATM and said I could use it to pay. They surrounded me and, in the midst of the threats, I feared for my life.
“After the extortion, I demanded for an official receipt, if the full payment is made, and he agreed to it. I told him to allow me to go to the bank to withdraw the money, but he refused and called a POS lady to do the transaction.
“At 11.55am. on July 5, 2023, the sum of N37,000 was withdrawn through the POS transaction, plus the N30,000 cash, making a total of N67,000.
“Thereafter, he called the Vulganiser to inflate my tires and ordered the gateman to open the gate. When I demanded for the official receipt, he refused to give me one and told me to be grateful that he was being lenient with me by asking me to pay the lowest penalty.
“I was reliably informed that this is the usual practice by the Ogun State Task Force and that daily, Nigerians are humiliated, extorted and bruised by this notorious rogue cell.
“How can Nigeria lay claim to developing the country and encouraging foreign investments, when those coming from abroad to do business are pushed to the tunnel of death and anguish by government agencies?
“I am using this medium to submit an official petition to the police to do a detailed investigation of this matter,” he stated.
When the Ogun State Chief Vehicle Inspection Officer, VIO, Gboyega Adetimeh, was contacted, he said the matter had nothing to do with the VIO, but authority of the Ifo LGA of the state.
He clarified that “VIO doesn’t use the Task Force to discharge its duties.”
Speaking on the development, the Council Chairman, Mrs. Kikelomo Delana, said when she got wind of the incident on Saturday, she order stoppage of all forms of revenue generation in the area.
She said: “When I stopped them, some community leaders from the area called me on phone and said they were in support of the activities of the illegal revenue officers, because of illegal parking of motorists in the area.“
On his part, a senior official in the local government, who pleaded anonymity said the Federal, state and local governments have revenue officers in the Ojodu-Abiodun area.
He noted that when the man paid a huge sum of N67,000, without collecting receipt, how will they be sure that those who collected the money were local government officials.