In what seem like a classic case of the hunter becoming the hunted, the police authorities at the Area F Police Command in Lagos has been accused of conniving with a Lebanese simply identified as Alex, one of the managers of Charvet Nigeria Limited, marketers of popular energy drink, Power Horse, to intimidate and harass a Nigerian businessman and driving school operator.
According to Mr. Bode Thomas, an instructor with Steerite Driving School located at Suite D1, 15/16, 72, Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos, he got a call at about 4.30 am on the 26th of August informing him that a reckless drunken driver had damaged the fence of the complex housing the driving school office and some of the cars packed within the premises.
(more after the cut)
“I got a call from my colleague at about 4.30am, that the security man of the complex where the driving school is located called to inform him that a car broke the gate of the office complex and damaged the driving school automatic car parked in the complex and that the damage was caused by some drunken Lebanese guys coming back from a night club in company of about three prostitutes.
“I quickly rushed down to the complex to see things for myself at that early hour of the morning. When I got there, I met my boss, one of my colleagues, Mr. Tosin Ajijola and one Mr. Otunba, a co-tenant of the complex. An argument sparked off between us and the Lebanese in company of one Mr. Bunmi, the General Manager of Charvet Nigeria Limited, marketers of popular energy drink, Power Horse. After the argument that ensued, the GM pleaded with my boss not to report the matter to the police and that they will take charge of the damages”.
Explaining further, Bode Thomas explained that when the manager of the office complex arrived, he insisted that the matter be reported to the police but the same Charvet GM prevailed upon them not to, promising like before that his company will handle repairs of what was damaged.
“My boss agreed not to go to the Police on a gentleman agreement but insisted on seeing the man who drove the vehicle that caused the damage. At this point we were taken to Reddington Hospital where we met the Lebanese on bed. At the hospital, boss asked the doctor if he knows what brought his patient and the doctor confirmed that he had an accident. He also asked him if he has done a test to determine the alcohol level in his blood but the doctor tactically avoided the question”,
To ensure that nothing goes amiss, our source said the driving school operator hurriedly drafted an agreement stating that a staff of Charvet damaged the complex gate and stating that the company shall be responsible for the repairs. This was said to have been agreed to by Mr. Bunmi, the Charvet boss. He was said to have agreed that the gate will first be repaired while the damaged vehicle belonging to the driving school will equally be repaired by the company and losses incurred by the driving school due to disruption of their services will be compensated for by Charvet.
Paparazzi further gathered that the damaged training vehicle disrupted the operations of the driving school, as those who were scheduled for training with the automatic vehicle could not be trained.
According to our source, though Mr. Bunmi promised to sign the agreement and return it on Monday, 27th August to the driving school, the case took a new twist.
“We were expecting to see Mr. Bunmi return the agreement on Monday, but instead of that, we received an invitation letter from the police on Thursday through Corporal Olusegun of the Traffic section of Area F Police Command. The invitation letter says that some Lebanese gave an allegation against us for illegal seizure and impounding of their jeep in the complex. As a law abiding citizen, I reported to the station on the 2nd of September, 2013 at about 10.00am, where I wrote my statement and left the station afterward.
“The following day, the police officer, Mr. Olusegun called to inform me that they will be coming to tow the cars to the station and my boss agreed to it but insisting that the driving school vehicle be covered while towing it so as to protect the image of the school.
“The following day, we were surprised when the Police in a commando style’ involving scores of Policemen which included officers of Lagos State Anti Robbery Squad attached to Area F Command, stormed the complex with different patrol vans. Because of the scene created by their actions, my boss instructed that we should allow the police officers tow the damaged jeep of the Lebanese guys, but without towing the damaged driving school car. When this was happening, one of the senior police officers that came with the policemen, Mr. Emmanuel O. of the Area F Command, assured us that we should trust him by allowing them to tow the Lebanese jeep and our own damaged automatic car, but we bluntly refused and they towed the damaged Lebanese guy’s jeep away. We have since not heard anything from the Police and the management of Charvet Nigeria Limited”, Bode said.
Throwing more light on the predicaments of the company, Bode said “We have incurred huge loses for not been able to make use of our automatic car to teach our numerous clients; even some of our clients have stopped patronizing us as a result of this. We have complained to the police, who assured us that the Lebanese guys will compensate us but up till now, nothing positive have been heard from them.
“We have instructed our lawyers to write the company which they have done but nothing has been done till now. We even heard that Mr. Bunmi said he was no longer interested in the matter since the Lebanese guys decided to take the issue to the police.
Another source who is in the know confided in our reporter that the Lebanese at the centre of this case does not possess a valid driving license and has been driving freely in Nigeria with different traffic management agencies in Lagos looking the other way.
This reporter put several calls to Mr. Bunmi, the GM of Charvet Nigeria Limited on the matter but he refused to pick up the calls. When a text message was sent to him, he replied saying “there is nothing like reckless driving. It’s a minor accident. Thanks for your concern”
For Mr. Olusegun, the Police officer attached to the Area F Command, Traffic Section, he declined speaking with us after this reporter identified himself as a pressman, preferring we come to his office to speak with his Area Commander. Our visit to Area F Command on the matter did not yield any result either, as some of the officers we met at the station refused to talk on the matter, claiming to be too busy for such issues. This is just the height of corrupt tendencies of some policemen, as we gathered from our source that money might have exchanged hands between the Lebanese and the police officers.
It is however unsettling that a Nigerian can suffer such indignity in his own country just because some foreigners have money to throw around and compromise those who are expected to protect the right of the common man.