Six operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team have been accused of allegedly extorting N612,000 from four men in Anambra State.
The four men were also tortured by the operatives.
They were reportedly framed through a dubious attempt to sell a vehicle to one of the men, Sunday Ibeh.
Justus Ijeoma, the lawyer to two of the men, Chizoba Anibueze and Sunday, said the fated chain of events started when another victim, Madu Kenneth, reached out to Anibueze that he had a vehicle for sale.
Anibueze made the proposition to his friend Sunday, both of whom are traders at the Onitsha Main Market.
The said car belonged to a person, who was stuck in the country due to COVID-19 and was trying to return.
However, there was no car and there was no seller.
The police officers were operating through an individual nicknamed Senator.
He invited Kenneth and the fourth victim, Ubah Jeremiah, to come to Oba in Anambra State to inspect the vehicle.
When they arrived, the pair said they were not the buyers but were allegedly forced at gunpoint to call Sunday and Anibueze.
According to Ijeoma, the arrested party and the soon to be detained ones agreed to meet in Ogidi close to Onitsha for the phantom inspection of the car.
Picking up the trail of events, Sunday recounted in an interview with SaharaReporters that Kenneth and Jeremiah were nowhere in sight when they reached the venue of the meeting.
“Chizoba insisted that we hold on, saying Kenneth’s vehicle was in the hotel’s car park. As soon as Chizoba put his phone to his ear to call Kenneth, some police officers came and arrested us, saying anything we said would be used against us in court,” Sunday said.
Kenneth’s car was used to convey the men to the Ihiala Police Station.
Sunday said the person, who drove them, was visible in a video of the mythical car put up for purchase.
The police officers whom Sunday reckons numbered about six, purportedly proceeded to torture confessions out of the men when they arrived at the police station.
“They wanted me to confess that I brought money to buy a stolen car, I refused,” Sunday said.
“They handcuffed me, tied me up and put three heavy rods on my waist and started beating me heavily.
“They realised that they were torturing me for nothing, then decided to bring me down and place me in a cell,” he added.
The men had their phones seized, with the officers in charge allegedly given strict warning not to make any calls on their behalf.
When guards were switched, however, the order was not communicated.
“I begged the new guard to help me call my wife and that is how we met Barrister Ijeoma.”
Offended that Sunday was able to make a call, the men transferred their victims to Neni SARS.
Sunday said he was fortunate not to spend a night in this famous hell.
He was able to bail himself out with N50,000 but his three companions were not so fortunate.
The others were moved on to Oji River in Enugu State where they were made to pay N50,000.
According to Sunday, the men were pushed out of the vehicle and given N5,000 from the bail sum they paid as transport.
Sunday, Anibueze, Kenneth and Jeremiah had all their belongings seized including N512,000.
Anibueze forfeited N112,000, while Sunday left N400,000.
“When they came to bail me, I told my family I was ready to die in the cell until they gave me my money, my family advised me to leave with my life first,” Sunday recalled.
The men were given an address and a phone number in Abuja and asked to come collect their money, they were told it would be kept as exhibits.
Further findings by SaharaReporters revealed, however, that the trail of the mysterious Toyota Camry (Spider) wound through Lagos before reaching Anambra and continued to Abuja.
The person, who shot the video that sneered Anibueze and Sunday said in an interview with SaharaReporters that he was apprehended by these set of officers in Lagos at the venue of a car deal.
The reporter had posed as an interested lawyer to get him to speak.
The male, who refused to reveal a name, said he went to Coker-Aguda in the Surulere area of Lagos to seal a car purchase deal.
Unknown to him, the IRT operatives were waiting.
According to the individual, the police officers made him call a contact on his phone, who has experience in disposing stolen cars.
He called Senator, who in turn reached out to Kenneth and Jeremiah.
“One guy sold a car to me,” he narrated.
“When I went to go and collect the car, I was arrested.
“There is a guy called Senator, he called me that he wanted to buy a car but he did not know I was apprehended. He arranged for people that want to buy it.
“It was in Lagos they arrested me, they took me to Anambra State – those policemen from Abuja. Senator knows the business; he knows how to sell cars that have been collected from other people.
“When Senator called me that he needs a car, those people told me to tell him that there is a car that he should come and buy it.”
He went on to explain that the police officers saw Senator’s number on his phone and pressed for the deal.
The car dealer also insists the four victims ensnared by Senator knew the phantom car was stolen.
Sunday maintained to SaharaReporters that neither he nor Anibueze knew the story behind the mystery car.
Jeremiah maintained that the deal came from Senator and he had no inkling that he had become an ‘informant’.
The car dealer said he was taken to Abuja where he settled the officers but refused to state how much he paid though.
Sunday and Anibueze’s lawyer, Mr Ijeoma, said one of the operatives involved in the alleged extortion scheme directed him to speak with his superior to determine how the seized monies will be released.
The victims were able to obtain the contact of three of the officers, Michael Johnson, Magaji and Charles.
These men allegedly conned several other people before departing for Abuja.
“On the day I was taken to Ihiala Police Station, I saw them settling with the owner of a towing van and three of his staff,” Sunday recalled.