Many citizens took to Twitter to express their mishandling by the SARS men, who indiscriminately arrested them and allegedly demanded bribes before releasing them.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, promised reforms of the SARS unit that time, however, on Tuesday, SARS operatives created an uproar again for allegedly detaining a businessman, Immanuel Ibe-Anyanwu, in the toilet of a Zenith Bank branch at Ago Palace-Way, Okota, Lagos State.
Narrating his wild experience, Ibe-Anyanwu, 37, claimed in a Facebook post that some SARS operatives were waiting outside the bank to extort money from him.
In his post, the man claimed that the policemen had seized his company documents and urged his friends and other readers to share his post because his phone battery was running low.
The post, which was shared by over 400 social media users in five hours, saw many Nigerians rallying support for him.
The victim, who later spoke to PUNCH Metro, said he stayed in the toilet for over two hours and claimed that the SARS operatives, who waited patiently for him, later removed the number plate of his car in a desperate bid to extort money from him.
He had narrated, “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 knew the street, but they didn’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 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.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Oti, said the bribe-seeking operatives had been identified and arrested, giving their names as Inspector Taiwo Omojope, Inspector Arigidi Ebibor, Sergeant Rotimi Adesoba, Sergeant Olalekan Olakunle and Sergeant Friday Oni.
Oti disclosed that the culprits were attached to the Ipakodo base of SARS.