Alexander Orwhoji, the Divisional Police Officer in Ehime Mbanno, Imo State, has been invited to the police headquarters in Abuja to explain why he allegedly demanded N30,000 for bail and a male surety over a civil matter.
A couple, Paul and Nnenna Osuji, was invited by the police in the state on September 17 over a land dispute but was eventually detained by the police officers at Ehime Mbano when they honoured the invitation the next day.
Instead of treating the case as a civil matter, the police charged the couple for assaulting a window who was involved in the land dispute and demanded the sum of N30,000 and a male surety for their bail, according to the daughter of the couple, Oluchi.
Oluchi told SaharaReporters that her parents did not beat the window as alleged and her parents were not around on the day that the alleged assault took place.
Oluchi said her sister was only able to raise N19,000 for the investigating police officer, Precious Ukwu, who claimed to be acting on instructions from Orwhoji.
Following a report by SaharaReporters and a petition to the police, Orwhoji has been asked to come to Abuja for an interview with the inspector general of police, according to a source who has been following the case.
"The office got a complaint on the matter and spoke with the DPO. It appears the DPO will have to come down and give us his side of the story," the source said.
The spokesman for the police in Imo State, Ikeokwu Orlando, had earlier dismissed the allegation of bail demand when SaharaReporters asked him about it. Still, he gave reasons why the police specifically asked for a male surety.
"There are conditions for release on bail," he had said. "For instance, you don't bring a woman when you know the woman is under a husband. The woman might not have a base. When someone says the accused must bring a man, the police are trying to establish the fact that the person, the accused, resides and works in that town."
Later in a statement on Saturday, Orlando clarified his earlier comments.
"To set the records straight, the matter reported was an assault occasioning harm, where the suspects met the complainant farming on a piece of land (possibly in dispute), beat her up and inflicted bodily injuries on her. The case was established and was being investigated then.
"Secondly, money was never paid to anybody as the suspects were not released on bail but charged to court."
On gender-specific surety, Orlando said, "I told him – SaharaReporters, that there is no law stating that a woman cannot stand as surety, but the person in whose custody the suspect is has a responsibility to either accept or reject a surety, based on the credibility and reliability of such surety, because as the person in charge of that jurisdiction, the officer is expected to have excellent knowledge of the people within the area, and the essence of a surety is to ensure that the person being taken on bail is produced whenever needed until the case against him or her is finally disposed of.
"I said some people reject women based on their belief that she is not independent or may not be based in an area. I ended up saying that it is wrong, as there is no law stating such."