The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has berated the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Lanre Bankole, over what it called the illegal arrest and detention of one of its former leaders, Olawale Balogun.
Balogun, an ex-Chairman of NANS in Ogun State, was arrested by the police on Saturday for allegedly being in a vehicle with some people who the police accused of being in possession of firearms.
But NANS accused the command and the CP of “unprofessional conducts, tactical political siding, bribery and flagrant abuse of power.”
He was said to have “unlawfully arrested, detained and paraded Olawale Balogun as a political thug without any proof in Ogun State.”
At a press conference addressed at the Iwe Iroyin Press Centre, Okelewo, Abeokuta, the NANS Deputy Coordinator in the Southwest Zone, Oladimeji Uthman, said, “Olawale Balogun is a former chairman of our noble association, NANS/JCC Ogun Axis and was unlawfully arrested at the Ake area of Abeokuta, an area that was used for the APC Ogun State congress last Saturday 16th October 2021 by a team of police officers deployed to the area.”
Contrary to claims that Balogun was in a Hilux van where arms were recovered, Uthman told newsmen that the former students’ leader “was arrested while crossing the road at Ake, but was paraded as a political thug with claims of being arrested in a Hilux van found with guns and ammunition. A claim that the Police Commissioner, CP Lanre Bankole could not substantiate himself, simply a lie from hell.”
He added that multiple sources had “confirmed to us that the claim was nothing but false and only being promoted by the police to carry out their heinous actions against our comrade and others.”
While accusing the police of violating Balogun’s right to freedom of movement, Uthman claimed that the police arrested him, even when nothing incriminating was found on him.
It was said that CP Bankole and his men “immediately spun the narration to accommodate the evil plots orchestrated by his men and levied charges against the innocent Comrade Balogun, while the real culprits who perpetrated the evil continue to move freely around the state even when their pictures captured in actions are all over on the internet for more than 48hours now. No single arrest by CP Lanre Bankole has been made and we as a student of history are really waiting to see how life and properties under his watch will be protected in Ogun State.”
The NANS leader alleged that the CP, who was deployed to Ogun two weeks ago, assigned to himself, the awful task of being used by politicians of no substance to cause havoc with the aim of settling political scores in the state, saying, “Wale Balogun is neither a politician nor thug and as such, must be freed.”
While describing the new CP as “inexperienced, compromised and corrupt,” Uthman stated that, “We have it on good record that CP Lanre Bankole was paid the sum of N50 Million by the powers that be from Ogun to prosecute Comrade Olawale Balogun for a crime he knows nothing about in their bid to settle political scores with former Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.”
Making demands, the students called for the immediate release of Balogun, having been “detained unlawfully for more than 72 hours.”
“For subjecting Comrade Olawale Balogun to unlawful arrest, we demand an open letter of apology from the Nigeria Police Force, Ogun State Command, to be published in three national dailies and damages of N500 million to be paid within the next 25 days from now.
“Furthermore, we call for the immediate suspension and investigation of CP Lanre Sikiru Bankole by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for accepting a bribe to undermine his oath of office in flagrant abuse of power and privileges by taking sides with politicians.”
They also called for the immediate redeployment of Bankole from the Ogun command, stressing that “he still has much to learn as we doubt his qualifications, intellect and experience” as a police chief.
“Finally, we hereby give CP Lanre Sikiru Bankole, IGP Usman Alkali Baba and the Police Service Commission only 12 hours to accede to our demands stated above, otherwise, we shall be forced to involve and move the National Secretariat of NANS to Ogun State and exercise the full extent of Aluta Laws,” it was said.
Contacted, the Ogun State police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, denied that the CP was bribed to arrest Balogun, saying the NANS leaders were being mischievous.
“Were they there when the commissioner was given the said money? They are just being unnecessarily mischievous. Somebody was arrested with a group of people and we found firearms with them. Was the person arrested in his bedroom?
“He was arrested alongside other hoodlums. No matter the level of their threat, they cannot intimidate us to release a criminal and if their own union student activism is to support crime and criminality, then we will need to reconsider our stand with them.
“Students unions are formed to protect the good interest of students, not to harbor crime and criminality and if they believe that their threat will stampede us into releasing somebody that we are investigating for crime, they have missed it and we are going all out to arrest their sponsors too,” Oyeyemi said.