Edo Police arrest 11 builders on fictitious petition, send them to Oko Prison

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Edo police have arrested 11 labourers at a development site in Benin City, Edo State.

The workers were arrested on Friday, 02 September, in Okuoma community, Sapele Road, along Airport Road, towards Ogheghe.

Standard Gazette gathered that one of the arrested, Jeffery Taiwo, 25, is a father of two children - 3 years and a year old.

The police had rounded the boys up while working and urged them to come to the station to write statements.

The Nigerian police claimed they were acting on the directive of the Commissioner of Police, CP Abutu Yaro, whose the land owner had allegedly petitioned.

However, the document the police submitted before the court showed that the boys were thugs arrested with guns.

CP Abutu Yaro, Commissioner of Police, Edo State
CP Abutu Yaro, Commissioner of Police, Edo State

Our correspondent in the court on 6 September said, "The police claimed they arrested the boys with guns, but another police alleged that when they arrested them, they were eating and others were eating.

The court ordered the boys to be remanded for 14 days. Standard Gazette learned that the police immediately transferred the workers to Oko prison.

The workers were hired by Asosevwe Ochuko Lucky, fondly called Engineer Ochuko, and Ochuko was hired by a man whose name is unknown but identified as Tempest Little Dubai on Whatsapp.

Jeffery's wife, Lilian, 26, is begging that her husband be released as she is left alone with two kids.

The men were transferred to State CID in Sapele road, where they were charged on 06 September 2022.

Asosevwe Ochuko Lucky, identified as Enginee Ochuko, told Standard Gazette that the Nigerian police are lying, making an unnecessary arrest to exploit him.

He said, "I took them to the site, we have worked there more than four times, and I was surprised that the police came and arrested them all. I spoke with the community, and they said there was no problem with them, that we should bail our people.

"Nigerian police are looking for how to exploit me financially. If I go to the station now, they will detain me too. Nigerian police are not straightforward."

The alleged man, whose name is unknown but identified as Tempest, denied responsibility to Standard Gazette. He claimed he knew Ochuko but did not pay him recently to work at any site.

"I didn't take anybody to the site; I don't know why people have been calling me. I am not in Benin; I traveled." "I am not the building owner; he told Standard Gazette, "that should be the wrong information."

He added, "I know Ochuko, but I didn't give him work recently; I gave him a job long ago. I think he has mistaken me for someone else."

What happened Next?

Engineer Ochuko, in an effort to release the boys, went with some officers from a different police station to arrest Tempest, hoping that the police would release his workers if they found the alleged owner.

He became disappointed when Tempest denied him before the officers, and he wasn't arrested.

At the time of this report, despite the effort, the police have yet to release the alleged copy of the petition or the name of the petitioner.

Former Public Relations Officers in Edo State, now DPO New Etete, SP Bello Kongtongs, agreed that the labourers weren't supposed to remain in custody.

"Nobody will take any labourer to court as they were mere employees of the owner, and keeping them since Friday in custody is also very wrong.

"The highest police can do if there is a complaint on a disputed land they were working on, they can pick that day so that the real owner can come and they be released that day."

He defended the arrest, adding that "if the police receive a complaint, they act based on it first. When they arrived at the station, a preliminary investigation should have made the police release and warned them not to go to the site again."

After speaking with the OC at the States CID on behalf of Standard Gazette, DPO Kongtong, who attempted to intervene, added that the arrested boys are "responsible for their own actions" since the alleged house owner remains in the wind.

"I just spoke to the officer that is the OC in charge of the case. He confirmed to me it was a subject of a petition to the Commissioner of police, and it was malicious damage to farmland. They said someone sent them to do that, but nobody showed up to say they sent them"

He added, "For now, they are responsible for their actions," "That is to say anybody shows up and said he is the one that sent them; of course, they would have been released."

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