• Friday, May 24, 2024
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N105m ‘cash-capture’ scandal rocks Rivers police, CP denies

The Rivers State police command which has been flying high in recent times with strings of successes against cult gangs and other violent crimes is now fighting to clear off an explosive scandal of about ₦105million.

A citizen recently released a video and a petition accusing the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) and the Cyber Crime Unit of ‘cash-capture’ and illegal detention.

In the video, the SCID were accused of confiscating money only to ‘dash’ him N30m out of it in the hope of hushing up the entire case.

The citizen, Davidson John, featured in the video made by a filmmaker in Edo State, Israel Joe, where the video maker used drama and foul language to narrate the episode.

The narrative said John was a surveillance sub-contractor who showed his friend the balance of N105m he allegedly made after paying his boys, and how he wanted to buy property with it.

According to the clip which BusinessDay listened to, the next thing John saw was invasion by a team of heavily-armed policemen who were allegedly shouting, ‘where is the money?’

He said after taking him along with a huge chunk of the money to the Cyber Crime Unit in Port Harcourt, they took him back to his home demanding for the rest of the money. He said he confessed it was in the ceiling, and they found and collected it.

He said the SCID detained him for three days during which they allegedly debated on how to frame him up and take the money. At a point, he went on, they asked him to admit they saw only N20m so that they could deceive the police commissioner of police during sharing of the booty they now considered theirs.

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It was claimed in the video that some human rights activists joined the matter but posed as John’s relations who came to beg for him.

They were said to have joined in negotiating John’s release based on evidence of ill-health and urinary catheter in his stomach. The video named a lady Princess to be the middle woman in the negotiations.

The video said John was being kept under ‘holding charge’ when the case of ‘kidnapping’ could not hold.

The video claimed that the SCID told John that they were going to share the money to their bosses thus: IG N30m, CP N20m, DC N15m, AC N10m, Princess N9m, and N12m to the owner of the money.

Negotiation stalled when the SCID insisted on keeping the man’s two cars which he refused. It was said that one top commissioner of police alerted the SCID to better release John.

The video maker made sweeping claims against the Rivers State police command, saying happenings in the command were worse than what happens in Sambisa forest.

Police reaction

Pressure immediately came upon the police command for reaction. Soon, an official statement sprang up titled ‘Official Statement on False Accusations Against Rivers Command SCID.’

The statement signed by the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Grace Iringe-Koko, said it was in “Response to a widely circulated social media video by one Israel Joe, aims to clarify the situation concerning the arrest of Davidson John on September 14, 2023, by the Cybercrime Unit of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Rivers State Police Command.

“The initial grounds for John’s arrest were rooted in allegations of involvement in cybercrime and ritualistic activities.

“Subsequent to a comprehensive search of his residence at No. 6 Peace Avenue, Ogbelu, Rivers State, Police Operatives discovered substantial sums of money in both domestic and foreign currencies concealed in his premises, notably atop the ceiling.”

The statement said John’s inability to provide a satisfactory account for the origin of the money led to his transfer to the SCID for further investigation. “However, it came to light that the suspect had a urinary catheter in his stomach, necessitating a medical assessment.

“Upon consultation with a medical professional, it was determined that his health condition could not endure excessive stress, prompting a decision to release him into the custody of a reliable surety while investigations continued.”

The statement said John’s father acted as his surety and requested financial assistance for his son’s medical needs. “The Deputy Commissioner of Police granted a partial release of the funds on compassionate grounds for the suspect’s healthcare, while the remaining amount was meticulously documented and entrusted to the exhibit keeper.

“Additionally, a gold necklace, reportedly obtained from an undisclosed woman, was also registered with the exhibit keeper.”

The Rivers State Police Command emphatically reaffirmed that the entirety of the money was securely registered and kept under the custody of the exhibit keeper, “Thus, refuting any insinuation to the contrary made by the suspect, as it is vital to get proper understanding of the reason behind concealing such huge amount of money in cash in his house, as well as not being able to give full account of the monies.

“The Command urges the public to dismiss the misinformation presented by Israel Joe, recognising it as a distortion of facts. It is important to emphasize that the investigation is ongoing, and the Command intends to provide a comprehensive update to the public regarding its outcome in due course.”

Police response triggers more questions
Some observers and crime followers in Rivers State raised eyebrows, wondering why the police statement which claimed to have registered the amount in the Exhibit Keeper’s custody did not know the amount they confiscated or registered with the Exhibit Keeper and the one they gave to the accused.

They have also wondered why they have not made any effort to arrest the video maker if truly he lied against the police. Another critic wondered why the police did not charge the suspect to court after 24 hours and why the amount released to him was not disclosed in the police statement.

Other critics argue that money seized from a suspect cannot be released while investigations were ongoing, saying they must produce the ‘letter of request’ that should be written by the suspect asking for part of his money for medical attention. Sources close to the petition said he was bringing a reaction to the police statement. It was gathered that a lot of contacts were going on behind the scene to stifle any further pursuit of the petition.