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Police assault The Guardian reporter for insisting on COVID-19 protocol in tricycle

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Some officers of the Ago-Okota Division of the Nigerian Police Force in Lagos, last weekend, assaulted and detained a reporter of The Guardian, for insisting that a tricycle operator complies with the COVID-19 directive of not carrying more than two passengers.

According to the reporter, a tricycle operator was commuting from Taiwo to Century Bus-Stop on the Ago Palace Way, opposite the police station, but on the route, the operator stopped to pick up passengers to make it four persons in the tricycle, including the rider.

The reporter protested against this, but one of the passengers, a police officer attached to the Ago-Okota Division, simply identified as Ayodele, insisted that the tricycle operator carry him and the person accompanying him.

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After much argument, the policeman got down from the tricycle, but unknown to the reporter, he was trailed to his destination.

The reporter narrated: “After I alighted at Century Bus-Stop, the officer walked up to me and said: “Do you know I can slap you and mess you up now and nothing would happen?” Did I ask him why? He then slapped me, tore my shirt, and beckoned on his colleagues.

“About four of them bundled me into the station, hitting me with sticks and rubber pipes. On reaching the counter, a lady officer continued slapping me, collected my phone, and said I was lucky that I was still alive.

“After this, I was taken to another officer, but instead of cautioning his colleagues, he scolded me for insisting that the tricycle operator would only carry two passengers after seeing that the third passenger was a policeman.

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“He then said: ‘This is one thing with you journalists; you think you know the law more than we do. We that are the police see people carrying three passengers sometimes even without face masks and we let them go, but you want to prove you know the law. You are lucky I am not charging you for police assault.’”

After this, the reporter was detained for over an hour before he was later released after name-calling by other officers.

Meanwhile, this is not the first time an incident of molestation, intimidation and torture of citizens is reported against the division.

On April 11, a case was reported against an officer of the station, Taloju Martins, who was caught on camera collecting naira notes in N1,000 denominations and counting them to confirm if it was up to N40,000, as demanded from a citizen whose car was impounded. After the video went viral, the officer was arrested and the money refunded to the motorist.

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