Written by Musa Odoshimokhe and Precious Igbonwelundu: the nation
A swoop on the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) has begun in Lagos, investigations revealed at the weekend.
This has created another dimension to the battle over the PVC use for the elections slated for March 28 and April 11.
While the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) insists on its use, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is opposed to it.
This is in spite of the test run at the weekend, of the card reader that will enhance the PVC use.
A group of people usually dressed in police uniform or sometimes in vests with police inscription, have been found to be collecting PVCs from some people ostensibly with the intention to disenfranchise them.
The people mostly at the receiving end are commercial motorcyclists aka okada riders, mostly of northern extraction, in the commercial capital.
What these PVCs collectors do is to pose as policemen enforcing the ban on okada on some major streets. After collecting the motorcycle from the rider by force, they then ask him to bail himself by submitting his PVC, failing which his motorcycle, which is his means of livelihood, would not be released.
As soon as he releases his PVC, his motorcycle is released to him and his PVC taken away.
Yesterday, Mohammed Suleiman, one of the few victims who agreed to speak on record – Others are afraid to be quoted for fear of reprisal – said he was arrested at Aguda, Surulere.
According to him, the men posed as plain clothes policemen and that those arrested were mostly Hausa riders.
He said: “I’m a victim. I was arrested in Aguda area. They told me to bring my PVC before they would release my ‘machine’ to me. When I gave them my PVC, they collected it and refused to return it but they gave me back my motorcycle.
“They did not take me to the station but some of our people were taken to the station before the bikes were released to them on collection of their PVCs.” He however did not mention the police station.
He added: “I think they are aware that many of us carry our PVCs on us and where one cannot produce it on the spot, they ask the person to go and bring it to enable him get back his motorcycle. They arrest us for flimsy reasons – like over speeding or that we ply roads where motorcycles are not permitted.”
An Arewa youth leader in Lagos, Kabiru Ahmed,told our reporter on telephone last night: “We have received such complaints from some of our members and we are investigating. Anybody found culpable in this will not be spared. We will defend the Hausa community in Lagos. We will stand for our people. No policeman can intimidate us.
“Collection of PVCs to release okada is a violation of their fundamental human right. We will not allow our people to be intimidated. They will perform their civic responsibility.”
Lagos Police Spokesman Kenneth Nwosu, a Deputy Superintendent (DSP), denied the involvement of his men in the nefarious act.
“There is no iota of truth in such claim of our men’s involvement in that kind of act. What is our business with PVC? What will the police do with the PVC?” he queried.