INSPECTOR General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has ordered an immediate refund of N6 million allegedly extorted by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives from an Onitsha-based businessman, one Ugochukwu Oraefo, following his abduction in May.
Idris’ intervention was sequel to a petition by the victim’s lawyer, Mr. Justus Ijeoma.
Briefing journalists in Onitsha yesterday, Ijeoma confirmed that he petitioned Inspector General over Oraefo’s abduction by three operatives of SARS from their base in Anambra state, without disclosing any crime committed by their victim, who was asked to pay N20 million before he could regain his freedom.
“The victim was locked up for six days and heavily tortured by SARS operatives who did not disclose to him his offence, but merely asked him to pay the sum of N20 million to regain his freedom or be killed. On the fifth day of his detention, the operatives carried out what could be termed a mock execution on him. They blindfolded him and drove him for a period of three hours, then they got to a spot which he suspected to be somewhere around Edo State.
They showed him a borough pit and told him he would end up in it. The commander told his men to position themselves and shoot him (Oraefo) when he orders so. Oraefo was asked to move towards the pit and not to look back. At the command ‘shoot’, gunshots rent the air and he fell and fainted, thinking he had been killed,” Ijeoma said.
According to him, Oraefo fearfully went into negotiation with his abductors before finally paying N6 million for his release after the mock execution stage managed by SARS operatives, adding that acting on his group’s petition to IGP Idris in July, police have paid back N5.98 million, while N20,000 was still being kept back for no reason.
Ijeoma however wondered why police hierarchy has not sanctioned the culprits since their illegal extortion was busted.
“The reason we are briefing you today is however because as we speak, despite overwhelming evidence against the officers, no sanction has been meted out to any of them and all are still in their previous posting. We urge the police authorities to expedite action on the investigation process and action taken against those found culpable to serve as a deterrent to others,” he said.