3 days After New IGP Resumes, Abuja Policemen Harass Workers, Seal Quarry Without Court Order - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER


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3 days After New IGP Resumes, Abuja Policemen Harass Workers, Seal Quarry Without Court Order

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THECONSCIENCEng Investigation has uncovered how in a commando-style and show of brute force policemen in Abuja on Saturday morning stormed the premises of Nic Equipment plus Quarry in the Bwari area of FCT in a Tundra truck, chased out the operator, Mr. Nick Okon and his over 100 workers without picking their personal effects, barred customers from taking out goods already paid for and sealed the facility without a valid court order.

When the policemen who stormed the quarry around 10am and blocked the entrance with a Tundra truck were confronted by the operator to produce a valid court order for the enforcement, there was none. The policemen who were identified as Sam Okon and Matthew Ocheni merely claimed that the place was under investigation.

This is as Nigerians are expecting so much in terms of professional policing, adherence to rule of law, zero cases of abuse of citizens’ rights, high handedness and abuse of state power from the new Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba who just assumed office and was only decorated by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday and had promised the nation a police force that operates under a motivational and credible leadership driven by professionalism and strategic planning, all directed at stabilizing internal security and modernizing police operations within the framework of citizens’ consent, trust, and the rule of law.

THECONSCIENCEng Investigation gathered that police officers from Force CID area command (the station opposite old CBN) on Tuesday had visited the quarry formerly known as F&P Quarry, in Bmuko village, and arrested the operator, Okon and some of his workers on the orders of the quarry landlord, Mr. Ogboro.

Our findings revealed that Ogboro had leased the quarry which was allegedly in comatose and non-operational to Okon on a 3-year lease effective September 2019 with the agreement to revive the quarry and run operations smoothly. Most of the equipments, our source, claimed was out of use.

Following the arrests, Okon had to bail himself and his workers on Tuesday but some workers were picked up again by police and were bailed again during the week. Okon was later rearrested on Thursday by police before securing his freedom again on Friday around 8pm after meeting the stringent bail conditions allegedly arranged in a bid to keep Okon throughout the weekend to enable the landlord take over the property despite a subsisting tenancy agreement.

What followed next was the storming of the quarry by the police in company of the landlord whom we gathered was very influential on Saturday to shut it down without any court papers but only a claim that the quarry was under investigation. The police also strangely chased the quarry security and replaced same with the landlord’s security personnel.

Okon, we gathered, has been besieged by customers who are calling for refunds of their money, distraught workers and business associates who now view the company as unstable and unworthy of business transactions, a situation that may lead to a total collapse of the business.

It was also gathered that Okon was allegedly accused of damaging some equipment which he debunked and described as consumables that had to be used, scrapped and replaced.

An eyewitness who spoke to our correspondent lamented the show of force, illegality, harassment and intimidation by the police. The family man with 5 dependents said life has been hard since police started harassing workers on the quarry site with persistent arrest, bail rigours, shut down of the operations thereby abruptly stopping the livelihood of over 100 Nigerian workers with their individual dependents.

He said, "We are appealing to the new Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba to look into this matter. We are also calling on Nigerians of good conscience. We are lawful citizens making a living and feeding our families from the quarry. The police in connivance with the land lord have ruined our lives. How do we survive? In a nation with high unemployment, economic problems and inflation, why are the police handling a civil case like this? Imagine, we were not even allowed to pick our personal effects, not even our foods from the kitchen. It was so bad. The landlord was barking orders at us while the police were enforcing it without any care for our human rights and dignity.”

He added: “This is a civil case and why are we treated like criminals. How can police shut and ground a business property feeding many mouths, replace company security with landlord security in a civil case despite the quarry operator producing a valid lease agreement document? This is exactly what the #Endsars campaign was about. The Police needs to do better.”

“Would the new IGP tenure bring a fresh lease of life for Nigerians in terms of modern policing with respect for citizens’ rights and strict adherence to the rule of law? He quipped.”

Calls repeatedly put through to the landlord, Mr. Ogboro did not connect as at press time.

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