-By Olaleye Aluko and Afeez Hanafi
Festus Omotosho, aka Ijaya, the police inspector with Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Lagos State Police Command, has been fired by the leadership of the force for his alleged connivance with a suspected robber, Akeem Popoola.
The state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, confirmed Ijaya’s dismissal on Wednesday, adding that he had been transferred to the Ogun State Police Command, which arrested Popoola, for criminal investigation.
The decision of the force came after a series of exclusive reports by PUNCH Metro on Popoola’s mention of Ijaya as his boss, which led to the interrogation and detention of the ex-policeman by the Lagos command.
Twenty-one-year-old Popoola, a carpenter, had told correspondents how Ijaya gave him phones to sell to unsuspecting members of the public, adding that minutes after the sales, he (Ijaya) would handcuff him, take him to the buyers and claim that the phones were stolen items.
He said each of their victims had to part with between N120,000 and N150,000 to avoid being charged with buying stolen property. He said Ijaya gave him N5,000 after each operation.
Popoola, who was arrested for robbery and burglary, said he had participated in three operations with Ijaya before he was nabbed on April 6 in the Giwa area of Agbado, Ogun State.
He had said, “In November 2015, one of my father’s tenants and I fought. When my daddy came back home on that day, she reported me to him and he handed me over to Inspector Festus (Omotosho) at the state police command headquarters, Ikeja. He told him I was too troublesome and wanted him to discipline me. But he (Ijaya) did not. He took me to a beer parlor at Alakuko and gave me N5,000.
“Two days after, we met at another beer parlour around Agbado, where I was made to swear an oath. He gave me a mobile phone and drove me in his Toyota Camry to POWA Complex in Ikeja.
“He told me to sell the phone inside the complex which I did for N20,000. After an hour, he handcuffed me and took me in his car with his boys – Abbey and Aluko – to the man that bought the phone. He arrested the man and told him to pay N200,000 if he did not want to be taken to the station. The man raised N150,000 among his friends in that complex and gave him.
“When we left there, he removed the handcuffs and gave me N5,000 and we departed.”
On Wednesday, the Lagos CP, Owoseni, said Ijaya’s dismissal was a demonstration of the resolve of the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, to reform the force.
Owoseni said, “It is the policy of the Inspector-General of Police and the Nigeria police that all bad eggs in the force be exposed and made to face the law. Ex-Inspector Omotosho, alias Ijaya, has been dismissed. I said ex-Inspector Ijaya because he is no more a policeman. We were alerted to the alleged crime through a PUNCH newspaper publication. We searched, identified him and interrogated him before he was dismissed. It is the court of law that will now determine his culpability. We have handed him over to the Ogun State Police Command, where his co-accused is being detained.”
In a related development, four policemen attached to the State Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, Lagos State, have been dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force for their alleged participation in armed robbery on Saturday in the Okokomaiko area of the state.
The policemen – identified only as Inspector Durojaiye, Sergeant Omorokai and two unidentified others – were dismissed on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the Lagos State Police Command arrested four suspects – including Sergeant Omorokai – for allegedly stealing a 20-feet container, which was heading for the Sagamu area of Ogun State.
It was reported that Omorokai and three other policemen, had on Saturday, waylaid and robbed the driver and the conductor of the truck conveying the container.
It was gathered that the policemen had allegedly taken the container to the Okokomaiko area to get a buyer.
It was reported that the policemen allegedly exchanged fire with the police teams that came after them, during which three of them escaped, while Omorokai and three suspects were arrested.
On Wednesday, the CP, Owoseni, said the policemen involved in the robbery had been dismissed from the force, adding that the fleeing ex-policemen would soon be arrested.
Owoseni added that investigation was ongoing into the matter.
He said, “We are looking for those on the run. The normal police disciplinary procedure has taken place and the policemen involved remain dismissed. They are now ex-policemen.”