An alleged phone conversation between an officer of the Nigeria Police Force and a businessman has been leaked online, with the former admitting to killing a crime suspect while still demanding a bribe to kill a witness.
In the leaked audio shared online by SaharaReporters, the officer confirmed he is serving in Zone 2, at the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) office in Akure, Ondo State.
As heard from the audio, the police officer was threatening a businessman, informing him of impending trouble if he failed to redeem himself from a case of stolen goods allegedly supplied to him in Sagamu, Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria.
According to SaharaReporters, the police officer’s name was identified as ‘Ojo Eleweran’ on Truecaller, a smartphone application that has features of caller identification.
In the phone conversation, Eleweran was heard telling the businessman that if he paid the N10 million which he said would be shared with some top police officers in Ondo and the state police commissioner, his team would kill the suspect who allegedly sold the stolen goods to the businessman.
The policeman noted in the conversation that the second suspect was already dead and in the mortuary adding that “so that tomorrow, nobody will come up with the case again”.
Naija News learnt that the businessman on the phone conversation is identified as 49-year-old Ikechukwu Onu, who reportedly deals in plumbing materials in Sagamu, Ogun State.
As heard in the leaked audio, the police officer warned the businessman not to involve a lawyer insisting that whether a lawyer was involved or not, once they started harassing him, he would “bail himself”.
According to the police officer, it doesn’t matter whether his lawyer is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria or not.
He said once the police bring a suspect, who he said was already in their custody, to identify him, the matter would be closed, and the government would take over his property, and he would be sent to jail.
The audio transcript read thus: “You see this, your lawyer will put you inside problem and he go run back, and he is causing something for you. Are you with me? I go tell you for truly speaking, this your lawyer go put you inside problem.
“These guys have mentioned your name, not only you dey for Sagamu. These people know you. We killed one of them, and he is in mortuary as I am speaking with you.
“When we present everything before the court, all your property will belong to the government. Let me tell you this one, this your lawyer will get you into trouble, but I will give you time.
“Before 10 a.m. this morning, I will tell CP (Commissioner of Police) in Abeokuta, that they will come harass you. I assure you, we will put Adebayo on yourself and that is what I want you to know. Continue with that, your lawyer.
Replying to the officer, the businessman said: “What do you want me to do? I don’t buy any stolen goods, and God is hearing me as I speak now. I never steal from anybody.
“All the goods I buy, I buy from the company, and as it is now, I don’t want any problem. I live my life very gently.”
Speaking further on the phone conversation, the policeman said: “No problem when we arrest you, you are going to deny all this.”
When the businessman pressed further on what he should do, the police officer again said: “I told you, we are going to discuss better without the lawyer but you care not to bother. Me and you are working together, you are a businessman and I am a police officer. I want you to sort yourself out for this case.
“If you are arrested, no matter what you say you will bail yourself, I tell you. In the name of Almighty God, you will say I did not tell you a lie. I tell you this one but you now deny say you don’t do this you don’t do that, say you no dey buy a stolen vehicle.
“You owe the boy (referring to suspect in custody) money, I dey tell you. It is a matter of the money you owe the guy and that is why he mentioned your name and said they delivered the goods to you. I don’t know you but the guy knows you.
“If you see him you, will know that the guy knows you. So I don’t want you to suffer as a big man, I want you to free yourself from this case.
“So if you don’t want to free yourself, it is in your hands. That is why I say I call you back. So what is your decision now?” he asked the businessman.
The businessman asked again, “So what do you want me to do, sir?’ and the police officer, then said, “What you will do if you want to get yourself out of this case is to pay N10 million. When you settle everything, everything must go.
“Even though this particular suspect, if you want, we will kill it because of another time make you know to see this kind of problem again.
“We can kill it because the second dead body is in the morgue so that there will be no more witnesses against you again. This is my 30 years in the service so no lawyer can teach me my job. If your lawyer comes into this, he will be delaying it.
“The case never enters court; you dey call a lawyer. If the case comes enter court, what are you going to do? Will lawyer bail you for the station?”
“Where is the place, sir?” The businessman asked him where he was, and the police officer said, “Zone 2, Akure former SARS (Special Anit-Robbery Squad) office. If you want, I will give you time and I will be expecting you.”
The Genesis Of The Case
SaharaReporters claimed to have reported on August 28, 2023, that a civic group, the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), had called on the Acting Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to probe alleged extortion in the Ondo State police command.
RULAAC, in a statement signed by Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, had alleged that one Ikechukwu Onu, a 49-year-old shop owner in Sagamu, Ogun State, was extorted by Nigerian police officers after he was illegally detained three years ago.
According to the statement, Ikechukwu received a phone call at around 1.50 p.m. on Sunday, August 27, 2023, and the caller informed him that he was a police officer at Akure Area Command, Ondo State Command, but did not reveal his identity.
The policeman said they arrested some men who told them they sold products to him, and that he owed them N25 million.
He said, “The officer mentioned one Kazeem Arigbagbo as one of the suspects they arrested, who confessed that they robbed and killed somebody and that they (police officers) killed one of the ‘robbers’.
“The officer asked him to report at Area Command, Akure on Monday, August 28, 2023.
“That he could not make any sense of what the officer told him and immediately informed his lawyer, who called the officer, and after the officer repeated the story to the lawyer, he (the lawyer) asked the officer to send a formal invitation to his client. The officer later called him back and threatened him.”
Meanwhile, Nwanguma, the Executive Director of RULAAC, has called on the IGP to order an investigation into the case to unravel and decisively sanction criminal elements in the police, denting the image of the Force.
According to SaharaReporters, the said police officer, when contacted, said he was not supposed to speak to journalists on the matter. He reportedly referred the media to the police public relations officer of the command the publication said could not be reached as of reporting time.