A former Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in Abia State ,Dr Philips Nto has petitioned the police over alleged incessant arrest and torture of Abia youths in the guise of hunting suspected Internet fraudsters.
He regretted that the police have hastily profiled and labelled such youths as fraudsters with incessant harassment, arrest and torture.
In the petition he addressed to the Commissioner of Police ,Abia State, Nto who is also the immediate past Provost of Abia State College of Education, Technical, Arochukwu, deplored what he called the crude method used in effecting such arrest,with the attendant risk factors even to the police themselves.
Dr Philips Nto alleged that many youths ,majority of them students, are now afraid to walk the streets because of fear of being arrested.
He gave an instance of what happened last Wednesday at Umuahia- Umudike Road where a vehicle almost crushed a policeman and a student running away from being arrested.
His petition reads:
PETITION AGAINST THE UNDUE HARASSMENT OF ABIA YOUTHS BY THE POLICE
I am a Lecturer at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. Before now , I had been the Provost of Abia State College of Education, Technical, Arochukwu and Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning.
I wish to bring to your notice the unsavoury activities of some of your men against the youths of Abia State in the guise of hunting Internet fraudsters. While I am fully in support of your determined effort to fight crime and criminality in the state, I believe that your men should execute this assignment with the best rule of engagement concerning international standard of policing.
As a lecturer, some of my students had approached me to complain of how they are constantly harassed by the police on the roads, who have hasty profiled them as Internet fraudsters. This stereotyping of youths has made them afraid to walk the streets freely. They also complained that when they are arrested, the police end up torturing and extorting them.
Unfortunately, on Wednesday, November 8th,2023 between 12.30 and 1.30pm, I witnessed first hand the unconscionable harassment of some of these youths by the police. I was going back from my University to Umuahia when suddenly my driver marched the brake furiously at the gate of Abia State University, Umudike campus. He almost knocked down policemen who crudely and carelessly jumped out from the hilux patrol van that suddenly stopped at the middle of the road and recklessly chasing two students of Abia State University on that busy road.
While I may not know your method of apprehending suspects, I don’t believe that the policemen in question had to risk their lives and that of the suspects just to make an arrest.
Indeed, the tardiness of the exercise prompted me to petition you. Assuming any of them had been killed by upcoming vehicles, there would have been a massive breach of the peace by students of the institution.
Whereupon, I appeal to you to review your tactical operations in the apprehension of Internet fraudsters and not the crude and risky method that I witnessed. I don’t also believe that the police should label all Abia youths as Internet fraudsters. The earlier the methodology of operations is strengthened,the better for the peace of the state.
Philips Nto, PhD, FASN.
His Excellency ,
Dr Alex Chioma Otti ,
The Governor ,
Abia state .