The Inspector General of Police has ordered an investigation into an allegation of extortion against the public relations officer of the Kwara State Police Command, Ajayi Okesanmi, PREMIUM TIMES can reveal.
Mr. Okesanmi confirmed the investigation to PREMIUM TIMES when contacted on phone.
"The IG has ordered for an investigation and I might not want to disclose anything about it because of the investigation. We received a letter this morning. The investigation will reveal whether money was collected from the guy or not," Mr Okesanmi he said.
The allegation against Mr Okesanmi came to light following the viral online campaign for the scrapping of the police's Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, due to reports of the unit's brutality, rights abuses and extra-judicial killings.
As Nigerians recounted their mostly bitter ordeals in the hands of the SARS on social media, one Michael Asiwaju with the Twitter handle @Asiwaju_Limited posted a tweet about how Mr. Okesanmi allegedly extorted $2,000 cash from him, forced him to transfer N155,000 to one of his subordinates and seized his Samsung smartphone.
"On Friday July 7th, the PPRO of the Kwara State police command took 2000$ cash from me and forced me to transfer 115k to one of his boys account, and he also seize (sic) my Samsung phone... He threatened to send me to jail if I tell anyone about the case," he tweeted.
Attached to the tweet were the photographs of the Mr Okesanmi and a partly redacted copy of a bank debit slip. He did not, however, state what offence he was arrested for before the alleged extortion.
Mr. Okesanmi denied he extorted money from Mr. Asiwaju. He told PREMIUM TIMES he arrested Mr. Asiwaju after he was accused of blackmail and rape by a female student of the University of Ilorin.
He said Mr Asiwaju was arrested at Bovina Hotel, Ilorin at about 1 a.m. and brought to the state police headquarters where the case was assigned one of his subordinates, a sergeant. He said he soon left the office as he needed to rush home to freshen up for an event he was billed to attend alongside the state commissioner of police that morning.
The spokesperson said to his "utter shock" when he returned to the state police headquarters later that day, the sergeant who was assigned to investigated the case told him Mr Asiwaju had escaped while he was being led to search his hotel room.
"We took his statement and he confessed to the crime. We also took his phone because it contained the videos and picture he was blackmailing the student with. He escaped while he was being led to search his room in the hotel where he was staying. The incident led to some punishment being meted out to the police man.
"We started looking for him. We wanted to blow up the incident but the girl, fearing that her image would be tarnished, pleaded that we should soft-pedal. We have travelled to Lagos to the addresses he wrote to get him arrested but we have been unable to arrest him," he said.
He added that he did not collect any money from Mr. Asiwaju and did not spend an extended time with him.
"It is not in my character to do that. I never did that before and I will not do it. I will not even come low as doing that with a petty criminal like that."
He added that the investigation will reveal whether the sergeant, identified simply as Sunday, collected money from Mr. Asiwaju or not.
He, however, said if Mr Asiwaju was sure that he transferred the money to him or gave him any cash he should come out and prove his allegation.
"The matter is now in the public space he should be confident enough to come out," he added.
Mr Asiwaju did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES' request to be interviewed, but he has been relentlessly tweeting about what he claimed happened on the night he was arrested.
"The PPRO of Kwara State Police Command was the one that took 2,000 dollars from me and he was the one that told me to transfer 115k into Sunday's account. PPRO shouldn't try and put everything on Sunday," he wrote in one tweet.
"The PPRO of said I run and left my phone in hotel and he later said he checked my phone and later said the phone was on password... how did u check the phone on password? And later said he couldn't check the phone because it was on password... " he wrote in another tweet.
BLACKMAIL AND RAPE
While Messrs. Okesanmi and Asiwaju trade blame about what transpired on the night of July 7, the lady, who will be identified here by a pseudonym, Linda, because she does not want her real name used fearing that her parents would disown her and kick her out of the house if they found out what happened, told PREMIUM TIMES how she was caught in a web of blackmail and an alleged rape after she met Mr Asiwaju on Instagram.
The 21-year-old 400-level student said after she met Mr Asiwaju on Instagram, they stated hanging out sometime in 2016 while she was doing her industrial attachment in Lagos.
"When I met him, he told me he wanted a relationship but he confessed that he has a son. He was a very nice person and we talked and we laughed a lot," she said.
Shadowed lady used to illustrate the story.
Linda said she stopped talking with Mr Asiwaju for a while until he contacted her and asked that she should visit him at his house in the Lekki area of Lagos. She agreed to follow him to his house because she claimed she was beginning to like him and wanted to know him better. But just before she was to visit him, Mr Asiwaju changed his mind and asked that they should meet at a hotel, instead, she said.
When she arrived at the hotel, she claimed that Mr. Asiwaju wanted to have sex with her; but she refused explaining that she was on her menstrual cycle. They left the hotel and nothing happened between them. She said he promised to give her some money and in fact, transferred the money into her account but later withdrew the money from a Diamond Bank ATM.
The second time they met was at a hotel at Igando, in the Ojo area of Lagos, she said. While they were together, she claimed, Mr. Asiwaju transferred N15,000 to her account and demanded to have sex with her. He subsequently asked an employee of the hotel to fetch him a packet of condom. But she told him she could not have sex with him. That was when Mr. Asiwaju got angry and asked that she should refund the money he transferred to her moments earlier. She asked to be excused so she could go fetch the money for him from a bank but he refused.
At this stage, Mr Asiwaju had already taken off most of what he was wearing. As they argued, the hotel staff he asked to fetch the condoms returned. Linda said as Mr Asiwaju went to open the door to collect the condoms, she stood behind and was gesturing to the hotel employee not to leave her alone with him. But he collected the condoms and tried to slam the door shut. That was when she started screaming for help. But Mr. Asiwaju was not deterred and told her he was going to have sex with her whether she wanted it or not, she said.
Linda said her scream attracted other occupants of the hotel. Things got so loud that the management of the hotel threatened to arrest and throw them out of the place. But a soldier who was at the hotel at the time intervened and even slapped Mr. Asiwaju as he acted uncontrollably, she said.
At the end, it was agreed that she should refund the N15,000 to Mr Asiwaju but he insisted that he would keep her phone until she paid back the money. Linda said she returned the money the next day and collected her phone from Mr. Asiwaju. But unknown to her someone had made a video of the furore at the hotel the previous day and had given it to Mr Asiwaju, who also had copied her father's number from her phone.
She said he later contacted her and threatened to send the video to her father if she continued to resist his demand to sleep with her. She said she was scared and agreed to have sex with him. But unknown to her Mr Asiwaju was recording a video of their sexual act together.
Then the blackmail intensified, she claimed. He would consistently demand sex from her and threaten to send the video to her father through WhatsApp. She said there was a little respite when she returned to Ilorin to continue her studies. But he did not stop.
"By this time, I could not have sex with him again. All that was on my mind was to commit suicide. I told him I will kill myself if it would make him happy since all you want to do is embarrass me I'd rather kill myself than have you embarrass my father," she wept over the phone.
"I did not know that blackmailing was crime. If I knew I would have reported him the first time," she continued.
So, when in July Mr Asiwaju contacted her and asked that she should come to Lagos, she felt she had had enough and narrated her ordeal to her pastor. She said it was her pastor who reported the case to Mr Okesanmi, who attends the same church with her.
The police spokesperson advised her to play along but to tell Mr Asiwaju that she was busy with examination in school and that he should come to Ilorin if he really wanted to have sex with her. Predictably, he agreed and came to Ilorin and was nabbed at Bovina Hotel by undercover police officers.
VICTIM CONTRADICTS POLICE CLAIM
The next morning, when she called the police to ask how the case would proceed, Mr. Okesanmi told her not to worry that Mr. Asiwaju would not threaten her again, she said.
"The police told me he was released to get guarantors in Lagos. They said he will never threaten me again. But that same day Asiwaju sent me the transfer slip of the money he paid to the police and threatened that he will make me pay for it," she said.
Linda's statement of what Mr. Okesanmi and the police told her the morning after the arrest appears to contradict what the police spokesperson said about the suspect escaping. But the spokesperson insisted on his stance of how Mr. Asiwaju "escaped."
Linda said Mr. Asiwaju sent her several threatening messages afterward and eventually sent the video to her father. But luckily, her younger brother was with her father's phone at the time and promptly deleted the video.
"I blame myself for everything. It was my fault. I should have reported him to the police the first time he tried to blackmail me. But I was scared and I didn't know blackmail was a crime.
"I am still afraid. Asiwaju is connected. He has threatened to deal with me. I don't know what to do. I just don't know what to do. I am scared," she wept.
Mr. Okesanmi, had earlier promised PREMIUM TIMES that he would fetch the sergeant who handled to case to explain what happened and how Mr Asiwaju escaped. But When this reporter called back to speak with the sergeant, Mr. Okesanmi said he would rather not want to say anything more since the matter is now under investigation.