SECURITY experts have accused policemen deployed along the Benin-Ore Expressway of conniving with hoodlums including Fulani cattle herdsmen to attack motorists and passengers travelling on the road.
Following investigations into the activities of security personnel operating along the road after Mrs Funke Olakunri, daughter of the leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, was killed there in July, the spotlight has fallen on the police. Jackson Ojo, a fellow of the International Institute of Professional Securities, a frequent traveller on the highway, said the information he got from traders and villagers on the road made him conclude that some of the police connived with the hoodlums.
He added: “I travel regularly on the Benin-Ore Expressway and I passed through the road again last week. The policemen at a checkpoint at Akinjagunla were not wearing uniforms, nothing to identify them as policemen and they did not go there with any police van and they did not carry arms.
“I stopped at Ore and I interviewed some hawkers and residents in some of the villages on the road. Traders even said that if policemen were coming to that area known for crime to combat criminals, they should be armed and have the equipment to do the job.
“They said these policemen deployed on the road would just come without wearing a uniform and that they would stay at a particular spot. They normally stay at a spot at Akinjagunla along the expressway and they usually do not use police vans or anything that can be used to identify them.
“I learnt that Ondo State asked the army to take over in the area but the police have refused to leave the road. I interviewed more than 40 persons to get to know what was really happening and they all accused police of conniving with the hoodlums.
“They said police would usually leave the spot shortly before hoodlums would strike and dispossess innocent people of their belongings on the road. I am urging the federal government to act fast and remove police from that side, they should deploy soldiers there and police should come only when normalcy has been restored.”
However, the Ondo State Police Command debunked the allegation that its men were conniving with hoodlums to perpetrate a crime on the expressway. Femi Joseph, a spokesperson for the command, said: “It is either the person saying our men are conniving with the criminals is being mischievous or trying to satisfy his paymasters.
“In the first place, has the person ever passed through that highway in recent times to see how our men have restored normalcy to that area. Or is he just an armchair critic, who will never see anything good in whatever the police do?
“If he has found any of our officers engaged in any infraction, has he made any attempt to report them either to the command or Abuja? I regard such a sensitive statement from him as the ranting of a debased mind and frustrated paid agent that is devoid of any scintilla of truth.”