The 35-year-old native of Edo State and his friend, a serving corps member in Lagos State, had gone to buy suya (roasted meat) in a Hyundai Sonata driven by Erins.
They were shouting ‘don’t move, don’t move, come out.’ I thought they were armed robbers because they did not look like policemen.” That was the impression Osaretin Erins had when he and his friend, Raymond, were ambushed at a suya joint in Abule Egba, along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway around 10pm on Thursday.
As they made to enter the car after buying the suya, armed policemen reportedly wearing shirts with the inscriptions FSARS and Anti-Cultism, waylaid them with a danfo bus – a commercial vehicle.
Pronto, they put Raymond in the bus while three of them were inside Erins’ car.
Erins, who narrated the harrowing experience on Instagram, said the operatives led him to an Automated Teller Machine point and forced him to withdraw N200,000 from his account.
He also posted debit alerts of several batches of N15,000 withdrawals running into N200,000
He wrote, “My name is Osaretin Erins. FSARS arrested me and my friend around 10pm at University of Suya in front of Jendol Supermarket along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. As we entered the vehicle, about eight heavily armed men came out of a danfo bus with assault rifles and started to harass us and forcefully dragged my friend into their bus stationed in front of the supermarket making passersby to run for fear of being arrested too.
“After collecting our phones, they took us to an ATM and forced (asked) us to pay a ransom of N500,000. After much pleading, I realised two of the officers were from my state, Edo State. I pleaded with them but they put on deaf ears and insisted we follow them to Alagbon (annex of the Federal Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department), that we are cultists and fraudsters, depriving me the access to contact my family for assistance. After much interrogation, they took me to an FCMB ATM and I was forced to empty my account balance. This is Nigeria where police have turned to midnight thieves.
“It’s really heart-breaking considering the fact that we are law-abiding citizens. Nigeria is heading towards a state of anarchy and turmoil if all this continues by FSARS and police. I am really heart-broken. Please use this medium to share this till it gets to the authority. The FSARS are from Area M in Idimu.”
In an interview with City Round on Friday, Erins confirmed the details in the post and gave further revelation on how the policemen took them round different areas and turned down his request to call his parents on the phone.
He said the men tagged him a cult member and frustrated his attempts to convince them that he was not one.
He recalled, “They kept on saying I am a cultist; I said no. I told them I finished from the university nine years ago without joining cultism. When they insisted, I asked them for evidence. They said I was arguing with them and threatened to deal with me.
“I requested that they give me my phone so that I could call my parents, but they refused. They drove us to Agege, from there down to Iyana Ipaja; then to Egbeda and from there down to Idimu. From Idimu, they took us to Ikotun Egbe. They asked us to pay N500,000. My friend is a corps member in Lagos. He came to stay with me because he was ill.
“We were afraid that they might take us to a police station and fabricate all sorts of allegations against us. After a while, they agreed to collect N200,000. They took us to an FCMB ATM point. One of them monitored me as I made several withdrawals.”
He said he withdrew N100,000 before 12am and withdrew another N100,000 after 12am, adding that were later freed around 1.30am.
“Some of them wore shirts bearing Anti-Cultism others wore shirts with the inscription FSARS. All of them were holding guns, except their driver. I can identify them, but my father said I should not expose them so that they would not go after me later. I leave them to God. I posted it to create awareness and warn people to be careful of how they move around. I think they were attracted to my car,” he stated.
Erins, who is into rental service and manages his father’s poultry, said his parents didn’t know he went out to buy suya and didn’t bother to call him throughout the time he was being held captive.
He added, “They thought I was in my room. They were surprised when I returned home around 2am. When people were saying end SARS, the government said criminals would be everywhere. I am telling you categorically that those people are actually those aiding criminality.”
When our correspondent demanded to speak with Raymond, Erins said the corps member was traumatised.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, urged Erins to see him so that the command could investigate the incident.
Recall that a rapper, Ikechukwu Onunaku, had taken to the social media on Thursday to call out some SARS men whom he accused of kidnapping him on Lagos Island and extorting money from him.
Elkana said the musician had yet to come forward to make a formal complaint.