I was excited to read a courageous piece written by the South East Bureau Chief of The AUTHORITY newspapers, Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, titled, “Tufiakwa to IG’s men…”
In the piece, he made effort to x-ray the ills going on within the Nigerian Police Force. He highlighted certain corrupt practices and human right abuses perpetrated by the police on daily basis unending.
However, Odogwu’s piece dwelt majorly on the misconducts of the rank and files, and did not give in-depth overview of executive sins committed by officers in the force.
In the shadows, high-level police officials embezzle staggering sums of public funds meant to cover basic police operations. Senior police officers also enforce a perverse system of “returns” in which rank-and-file officers are compelled to pay up the chain of command a share of the money they extort from the public.
Those charged with police oversight, discipline, and reform have for years failed to take effective action, thereby, reinforcing impunity for police officers of all ranks, who regularly perpetrate crimes against the citizens they are mandated to protect.
The Nigeria Police Force, established in 1930, has a long history of engaging in unprofessional, corrupt, and criminal conduct. Over the years, this unwieldy force—Africa’s largest—has proved difficult to effectively manage and control and has become largely unaccountable to the citizens it is meant to serve.
Ordinary Nigerians are further denied equal protection under the law due to a widespread practice whereby senior police officers sell for their own personal enrichment, police protection to Nigeria’s wealthy elite. By the Inspector General of Police’s own account, in 2009, at least 100,000 police officers were working as personal guards for the wealthy, at the expense of the majority.
For many Nigerians, the police force has utterly failed to fulfil its mandate of providing public security. Indeed, 80 years after its birth, members of the force are viewed more as predators than protectors, and the Nigeria Police Force has become a symbol in Nigeria of unfettered corruption, mismanagement, and abuse.
In addition, the abject failure of the police to provide for the security of ordinary citizens has led some communities to turn for protection to armed vigilante groups who often operate outside the law and commit further abuses. Police corruption affects nearly every Nigerian, though it disproportionately impacts Nigeria’s poor.
The Nigerian government and the police leadership have on multiple occasions acknowledged many of the problems described in this report. In recent years, the government has launched several police reform initiatives, increased funding to the police force, and improved police wages. Yet, the government has generally failed to hold accountable police officers who squander and steal police funds, much less the rank-and-file who commit abuses.
We shall stop here. In subsequent edition of the CORNUCOPIA, we shall suggest modalities to stem the increasing problems of police mischief in Nigeria.
Views of MOKWUGWO SOLOMON, a staff of the Authority Newspaper as a reaction to last week’s piece on police extortion for Tinted Glass permit amongst others unbecoming.