Policemen in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have been accused of arresting a 21-year-old National Youth Service Corps member (NYSC), Temisan, for allegedly being in possession of old Nigerian currencies N20 and N50.
The corps member’s mother, Bunmi Dipo-Salami, took to her Facebook wall to condemn the action of the policemen, perceiving it as a war against women.
According to Bunmi, Temisan was arrested at a check-point by the City Capital Hotel, in Abuja at about 11pm for being in possession of old Nigerian currencies – N20 and N50. The call came less than three minutes after Temisan called her mom that she was on her home.
Bunmi explained that Temisan had gone for dinner with her friends at the Ivory Place in Wuse 2 and was on her way back home when the Police team of four, stopped the car she was riding in, asked her to come down and started searching her handbag.
When they allegedly couldn’t find any contraband in her bag, they pulled her wallet apart and found the old bills.
When the policemen told Temisan, that she was under arrest, she quickly called her mom.
Bunmi said: “They asked her to stand by the roadside and dismissed her Taxify. The policemen said that they were taking her somewhere and that she would know her offence. So she started shouting that her mum wanted to speak with them. I heard the policeman say ‘stupid girl, who is taking your phone? So reluctantly he took the phone and I introduced myself as her mum and requested to know what they were charging her for.
“That was when Officer Nnaman told me, ‘we found old currency in her bag so we are taking her to the station’. When I asked where, he couldn’t tell me any particular location. All he said was ‘well, we are still at City Capitol hotel for now, but we will soon go’.
“When he said that, I saw flashes of the manifestations of the war on Nigerian women; women arrested on trumped up charges and raped in custody, commercial sex workers arrested for the sexual pleasure of the police and detained for days. I saw women, who were killed for trying to resist their Police abductors and labelled armed robbers or girlfriends of criminals, accused of illegal possession of hard drugs and so on and so forth. I told God that Temisan will not be added to the statistics.”
Bunmi dashed out of her house, heading to meet her daughter. While in her, she quickly put a call across to a friend, who is a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP). The DCP confirmed that it wasn’t a criminal offence to be in possession of old naira bills.
Bunmi narrated: “When I saw my daughter, my heart sank. Whoever saw her where she stood by the hotel would have said she was soliciting. Nobody would have imagined that her journey did not originate from that location or that her Taxify driver was dismissed by the Nigerian Police Officers on duty! She was visibly shaken and traumatised, but she was composed. I held her tight and asked for the Officer in Charge.
“He repeated her offence and showed me the two bills in the photo as evidence. I requested to know if that was an offence and he answered in the affirmative. I called the DCP and handed the phone to the officer Nnama. They spoke and all I could hear was ‘yes sir, yes sir, yes sir’. When he handed the phone back to me, he was looking like a deflated balloon. The DCP apologised profusely on behalf of the Force. Then we were free to go home.”
Bunmi said that she didn’t know how the night would have turned out, if she didn’t know a DCP.
She further said: “It did not matter that she carried her NYSC ID card or her valid Driver’s license or her Voter’s Card in her wallet – documents, that would have shown that she is a responsible, law-abiding citizen. I wondered what could have happened to her if I had been out of town or if I did not live here in Abuja with her. I am also angry that we have a President that allows the war on Nigerian women to go on and refuses to say a word. I am angry at the innocent women whose lives have been taken or ruined due to poor leadership and virtuous followership.”