Computer and Allied Product Dealers at Computer Village (CAPDAN), Ikeja, have sent ‘Save Our Soul’ (SOS) message to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) over extortion and abuse of operational guideline by his men dispatched to secure or monitor the market environment.
Mr Ahmed Ojikutu, president of Computer and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN) in a telephone interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek alleged that the officer attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) are making lives miserable for their members, calling on the IG for a wide-range investigation.
According to Mr. Ojikutu, SARS officer make over N7million weekly from the market following indiscriminate arrests and harassment of traders and other technicians predominately young people.
He said that several frantic efforts to attract higher police authority’s attentions to the cases yielded no meaningful results.
In Mr. Ojikutu’s words, “The officers and men of the Force have turned Computer Village to an ATM which will not accept any longer. With racking technology, it is easier to dictate who stole a phone. Meanwhile, the buyer of such phone is traced to Computer Village, men of the Force would arrest anybody that, out of omission or Commission, touched the phone. Computer Village is made up of young people who are daily struggling to make a living.
“So, when a customer comes to shop one and the device they need is not there, the shop owner wouldn’t just allow the customer to leave. He will approach owners of shop two or any other who has such device and sell. We are not denying the fact that in a market of such magnitude there must be bag eggs.
“But, even among the Police officers there are bad eggs. So, what the Nigerian Police officers do is that when a phone is lost and tracked to Computer village, they would arrest about ten people who might have touched the phone in one way of the other; and they are bailed with up to N250,000.00.
“I have met with the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, the two Area Commanders, reported to the constituted authorities, but the officers in the field are not willing to change.
I think there will be imminent protect that will shake the town. We are awaiting to exhaust the last line to be aware of what is happening.
Have You Addressed Members to Shun Stolen Items?
“We have spoken to them, but the truth is that technology has advanced. People will still sell their used phones or swap it, so, the issue around genuineness of a phone will still be there. Therefore, if there was an armed robbery or kidnapping case, technology has so advanced that it will be easy to dictate who first handled the phone, the location and time. Let the police arrest the culprit and not rope in others just to enlarge their pockets.
“On our side we are working against illicit practices and have set code of conducts for our members. The Police should do their work with all sense of diligence and professionalism not the current self-serving and extortions in the name of arrests. It leads to a lot of frame ups. They do this daily. At this end, we are saying no it. In fact, we don’t know if they have collaborators who are more interested in seeing these suffering young people undergo series of harassments in the hands of the Police.
“Computer Village is made up of mostly young people; and where young people are, they are bound to commit crime, but that shouldn’t give anyone the impetus to one to abuse those genuinely going about their businesses.
“It is a burning issue, and technology has come to stay. So, let them arrest the criminals and prosecute them. Under one week we countered cases where the Police collected over seven million naira (N7million). Though, we have reported to the authorities it has continued. When you push people to the wall, when they turn against you it will be fierce and brutal.
“The Inspector General (IG) of Police is a good man, the Commission of Police in Lagos, a good officer, the Area Commander in Ikeja is doing fantastic job, therefore, we don’t know who are giving the corrupt and bad eggs in the Police force the audacity to traumatize us in our business area. Who are these bad eggs? If people want to revolute they will not consider those who are good, the general aphorism would be ‘Nigerian Police is Bad’”.
Fighting Crime, Substandard Devices and Perpetuators
He expressed CAPDAN’s readiness to work with relevant government bodies in the fight against crime, and riding the market of substandard products.
The CAPDAN president told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek whereas they are ready to collaborate, no cartel or interest can be above the government.
“So, if there were cartels cloning others’ phones, it wouldn’t be like they can’t be stopped, but without direct involvement of constituted authorities like the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to clamp down, it is not going to be very easy. Therefore, we need their direct collaboration to rid the country of these substandard or cloned phones which constitute problems to the innocent citizens. We are open to partnerships, needing the backing of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), etc., but the bureaucratic settings usually cause challenge to get effective collaboration. If you want to clamp down, we are ready to volunteer information that will assist you. When the cartel know it is not profitable any more to import substandard products, they will naturally leave the market and the public will be the direct beneficiaries.
Advice to End Users
“We are coming up with a product called ‘Phone-Range; an online platform to assist buyers check the genuinely or otherwise of any device they want to buy at the Computer Village. We will notify the public about the solution when it is unveiled”.
However, efforts to get reactions from the Police Public Relations Officer for Lagos State proved abortive.