Some operatives of the SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) yesterday forced a businessman, Immanuel Ibe-Anyanwu, to go hide in the toilet of a Zenith Bank branch at Ago Palace-Way, Okota, Lagos State in a bid to escape them.
37 year old Ibe-Anyanwu claimed that the SARS officers were waiting outside the bank to extort money from him, after seizing his company documents.
With no other option, Ibe created a sensation on Monday while hiding in the toilet by calling for help on Facebook, urging friends and the Nigerian public to share his post.
Ibe’s post read:
I was accosted by SARS officers are Ago-Palace, Okota, opposite Zenith Bank. They humiliated me and accused me of being a fraudster. Checked my documents and found nothing, and then said I should follow them back to my office in Ikoyi to confirm my claims. People intervened.
I called the PPRO of Lagos State and he asked to speak with them. They took the phone and seized it. They are still holding my documents. Later one called me aside and asked me to go arrange money.
I asked for my phone to let me make a transfer to my ATM account and he gave me. I took the phone and card and went into the bank and have gone into hiding here. I’m updating from my hiding place. They are waiting for me by my car. Phone battery down. Please share.
The post was shared by over 400 social media users in five hours, as many Nigerians rallied support for him.
The victim, who later spoke to PUNCH Metro on the telephone, said he stayed in the toilet for over two hours.
Narrating his ordeal, Ibe-Anyanwu said:
“I was coming out of the banking hall after a transaction around 2pm on Monday when a man in mufti approached me. He said he was a policeman. I asked for his ID card, which he showed me. He told me to follow him to where their vehicle was parked.
“They were seven in number in a mini-bus. They were all armed, except the driver. Immediately we got there, he told his colleagues that I was trying to snatch his ID card from him. I was shocked. I wanted to explain, but they asked me to shut up.
“They went through my company documents. They saw that the address of my company was at Ikoyi and asked what I was doing at Okota. I told them that I came for a banking transaction. They asked why I didn’t do it at Ikoyi and I replied that I lived in Okota and that I left my house late and wanted to do the transaction before going to the office.
“They asked what we do in my company and I told them. They asked what I was doing before I opened the company. They said I should open my car for a search. which they did; they didn’t find anything there. They said I should enter their vehicle so that I could take them to my office at Ikoyi to confirm that I worked there. They said they know the street, but they don’t know my company.”
The victim said he suggested that they meet with his landlady or speak with his office workers on the telephone, but the policemen refused.
He noted that he called the spokesperson for the Lagos State Police Command, SP Chike Oti, who asked to speak with the operatives.
Ibe-Anyanwu said after he handed over the phone to the SARS officials, they cut off the call and seized the phone.
He explained that a resident later mediated and asked the policemen to release him.
“They said because of the man that begged for me they would release me. They called me aside and asked me to arrange some money for them. I told them that I needed my phone to arrange the money. They returned my phone.
“I went into the bank and sneaked into the toilet where I wrote the Facebook post. I called the police spokesperson again to inform him that they had just released my phone and were demanding money. He told me not to give them anything. He said he had mobilised some officers and they were coming to rescue me.
“I was in the toilet till 4pm and thought by then they would have left; but they stayed. Later, the bank workers asked me to leave their premises. By then, my phone battery was flat and I could not call anybody. By the time I peeped outside, I saw they had removed my car’s number plate,” he added.
The businessman said he had “swiftly” entered the car and turned on the ignition to leave the premises when the policemen surfaced and blocked his path with their vehicle.
He explained that he refused their call to wind down the glass, adding that a crowd gathered around the scene.
Ibe-Anyanwu said the policemen dropped his number plate and drove out to wait for him outside the bank.
“The bank asked me to leave their premises. I was confused. I decided to risk it and speed out. That was how I escaped. Although I can recognise them, they don’t have any name tag. They only had their crested guns with SARS jacket,” he added.
Punch Metro reports that the state Police Public Relations Officer, Oti, in a statement, said the policemen had been identified.
He added that the state Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, had ordered their arrest and trial.
“On sighting the X-Squad personnel of the command, the erring policemen hurriedly left the scene in a manner suggestive that they were on an illegal duty.
“The Lagos CP directed the Officer-in-Charge of the X-Squad Section to fish out the policemen within two hours. That directive was actualised with the identification of the policemen involved.
They were led in that inglorious duty by one Inspector Jude Akhoyemta, attached to FSARS Ikeja. The CP has ordered their arrest and as soon as that is done, the public will be notified.”