The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Benin branch, has called on Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki to review the 10p.m. to 6a.m. curfew imposed in the 18 local government areas, over COVID-19 pandemic.
The association stated that security agents are now using the opportunity to extort innocent residents.
In a statement by its Chairman, Pius Oiwoh, and the Secretary, Andrew Lawani, it noted that the association had received many complaints about the activities of the security agents, particularly policemen, whom it said had turned the curfew into an extortion ring and a huge money-spinner.
It added that a matron, who was conveying a diabetic student to St. Philomena Hospital, Benin was detained by the police on Friday night, until the intervention of Edo Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, whom it noted had to personally come to the scene at Dawson Akpakpava to facilitate the movement of the matron and the patient to the hospital for medical attention.
The NBA branch said: “Prior to Friday’s ugly incident, we have had reports of some security personnel, who detained pregnant women and their family members on their way to labour wards of hospitals, but only released them after parting with huge sums of money.
“Edo Commissioner of Police, Phillip Ogbadu, has been kind enough to intervene at the behest of the Bar in some of the very pathetic situations.”
NBA, Benin branch also asked the security operatives to be mindful of the fact many cases of injustice against Nigerians triggered last October’s #EndSARS protests, which led to loss of lives of many innocent persons and destruction of valuable property.
Edo Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Bello Kontongs, a Superintendent of Police (SP), however, denied the extortion allegation.
He insisted that the police command was enforcing the law put in place by the Godwin Obaseki’s administration, which prohibits movement beyond 10 p.m., except for ill-health.
Kontongs added that whenever offenders were apprehended, they would be taken to mobile courts to pay fines.