The newly posted Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, is fighting to restore sanity in Port Harcourt as many professional bodies exempted from lockdown said they had been extorted. The most scandalous case has drawn out members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) on warpath over a case of one of its members who was illegally arrested and extorted to the tune of N20,000 to free him.
Mukan has thus urged members of the public especially pharmacists and lawyers to remain calm and watch how he would deal with the matter.
The case of the pharmacist had gone viral on social media before a petition flew to the desk of the Commissioner of Police and to the PSN by a pharmacist and university lecturer, Lucky Legborsi Nwidu, director of Luckpharm Pharmacy at Ozuoba area of the state capital.
The pharmacist had demanded for the return of N20,000 forced out of him for bail by the divisional police officer (DPO) of the area after he said he had been illegally arrested and detained at his facility in the extreme lockdown that rages in the state capital.
Nwidu and the PSN insist that pharmacists as medical workers were not to be arrested for opening their businesses during lockdown because they save lives. The Rivers State chairman of the PSN, Chima Ogbu, told newsmen that the governor even referred a sick person to pharmacies to obtain drugs and get well during lockdown while inspecting compliance and wondered why a police man would counter the governor’s directive by arresting and obtaining bail fees from pharmacists.
This has forced the Commissioner of Police to order an investigation into the matter while reassuring pharmacists to be calm and be sure that his administration is out for discipline and true policing.
Explaining his ordeal, the senior lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt said he was in his house when his nurse shouted for help and he went to find a female police officer who he said was a worshipper in the same church with him trying to force the lady into a vehicle. He said he offered to be arrested instead and they took him to the Ozuoba police station.
He said all efforts to prove that pharmacists had exemption failed and when the DPO arrived, he joined in antagonizing him and even demanded for N100,000.
He said later in the day, after severe suffering, he was forced to part with N20,000 to secure release, but insisted the DPO must refund the money and apologise. He thus fired a petition to the police boss and to the PSN.
Nwidu said: “Over 20 years ago I swore to the Pharmacy oath to be a faithful pharmacist who will provide pharmaceutical services to my community, the major reason for which the police because of greed arrested me from home for over seven and a half hour without food and water. Is Nigeria fair to me and my profession, Pharmacy?
The police have to return the money paid to them by my lawyer and tender apologies to the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and Nigerian Bar Association for this ill-treatment. All the officers and DPO who meted out this unlawful detention to me need to be sanctioned.”
Reacting, the commissioner, through the police public relations officer (PPRO) in the state, Nnamdi Omoni, said: “It has become necessary at this stage to react to the above allegations and state the obvious as follows: The Command is aware of the complaint. The Commissioner of Police invited the DPO and his personnel and had equally contacted the complainant to hear from them, first hand.
“That after hearing from the parties, he ordered a full scale investigation into the matter with a view to ascertaining the cause of the infractions and bringing anybody found complicit to book. That the CP wishes to appeal to the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and indeed any other professional bodies to be calm, as he is poised to dealing with the matter on its merit, no matter whose ox is gored.
“He further wishes to state unequivocally and for the umpteenth time that he has lectured his men on the categories of persons and/ or authorities exempted from the emergency and on the need to be cautious and polite in the discharge of their responsibilities.
“He is hereby finally enjoining the public to remain calm and allow the law take its full course, while assuring them that the Command under his watch will not condone any act of lawlessness and unprofessional acts by his men and promised to remain firm and focused in the discharge of his duties in the State.”