Contractors accuse policemen of hiding under whistle-blowing to blackmail, extort

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Contractors in Nigeria working for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA), have accused some policemen attached to the Inspector General of Police (IGP’s) Special Tactical Squad, of using the whistle-blowing policy of the federal government to black-mail and extort various sums of money from them. This was even as the officers of the squad denied such allegation.

The contractors alleged that the policemen, led by a Superintendent of Police (SP) in the tactical squad and leader of the investigative team, Ben Kalio Bright, blackmailed and intimidated them using the name and office of the IGP, Idris Ibrahim and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Sir Mike Okiro.

They said that the squad, working with some court officials, have given court orders to freeze bank accounts of individuals and companies under the guise that their accounts are being investigated under the whistle-blower policy.

The aggrieved contractors said that the officers would contact them individually to open negotiations on how to unfreeze the accounts at a price which is said to run into millions of naira.

One of the contractors who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity for fear of further victimisation, claimed that the team leader is running a syndicate under the whistle blower policy to harass
and extort money from them and some top civil servants.

“This officer has the backing of his bosses and has continued to
run a syndicate under the whistle-blower policy to harass and extort huge sums of money from contractors and top civil servants in Nigeria.

“He harasses us and drops name of the current Inspector General of Police (IGP), Idris Ibrahim and current chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mike Okiro, who is a retired IG, and other top police officers.

“The syndicate has been successful basically because they are working in cahoots with some courts in the FCT, for the purpose of carrying out their new trade.

“Information available to us revealed that the officer has already obtained orders of a magistrate court in the FCT that we believe is in collaboration with him, to freeze bank accounts of many contractors working for MDAs.”

However, the Squad Commander, ACP Yusuf Kolo, dismissed the allegation, saying that the squad does not have the authority to initiate such investigation without the order of a competent court.

He explained that several investigations ordered by the court were on-going and are not restricted to whistle-blowing related cases, just as it is not within the job description of his squad to freeze or unfreeze any account,

According to him, the squad is charged with investigating and
reporting its findings to the courts, adding that any irregularities concerning freezing and unfreezing accounts would have to be traced to the courts.

The commander insisted that he was not aware of negotiation with suspects or defendants in any case, and that the police cannot collaborate with criminals to pervert the course of justice.

Also, speaking on the allegations against his team, SP Bright said that every investigation by the team is assigned by the commander following a court order which is usually a consequence of a petition.

Bright said that his team, like other teams in the squad, investigate issues raised in such petitions by inviting the parties involved to make statements among other techniques, but has no dealings with the court.

He complained that the allegation was the handiwork of some powerful people bent on frustrating the squad’s investigation, adding that the only case where accounts of suspects were unfrozen, even as the investigation was yet to be completed, was without the knowledge of the investigating team.

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