Civil rights activist and President, Association for Good Governance (ASGG), Justice Uhuegbu, yesterday urged the Federal Government to probe allegations of criminal activities by police operatives and officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Imo State.
Uhuegbu at a press conference in Owerri accused officials of the two security agencies of using their positions to extort money from citizens of the state through intimidation.
He said despite orders by police hierarchy that police officers should stop searching people’s phones, policemen in Imo State had allegedly been harassing and intimidating innocent citizens into parting with huge sums of money.
“I have handled some cases not too long ago against the police and currently I have three cases I’m handling in the court, which involves police intimidation and extortion. Their mode of operation is to stop and arrest innocent citizens with trumped up charges. They even compel people to go to banks to withdraw money via ATM to buy their freedom. And this is done with guns,” he said.
He expressed sadness that police in the state had taken over the job of the courts by pronouncing suspects guilty without charging them to court.
“Their sole objective of doing this is to extort huge sums of money from them,” he said.
Uhuegbu also condemned activities of the officials of EFCC in the state, saying since they started arresting suspected internet fraudsters, the anti-graft agency had never prosecuted any of the suspects.
“Rather, what they do is to collect money from those boys they tag ‘Yahoo Boys’ and release the boys into the society. So, it happens that on a weekly basis, they come to Owerri to raid students’ hostels and arrest innocent citizens, who they also make to pay huge sums of money before they’re released.
“So, the EFCC has literally opened offices in students’ hostels in Owerri, where they collect huge sums of money by simply intimidating and arresting people.”
Uhuegbu, who accused the EFCC of encouraging cybercrime in Owerri with their mode of operations, therefore, called on the Federal Government to compel the officials of the agency and police to always charge suspects to court within 24 hours after arrest, as that would reduce incidence of intimidation and extortion.