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The Nigerian Police Force: How Corrupt Are They?

The Nigerian Police Force: How Corrupt Are They?
A police officer search Catholics before they attend a Mass to celebrate Good Friday in Abuja, Nigeria Friday, April 18, 2014. Nigerian Catholics joined Christians around the world in celebrating Holy Week ahead of Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/ Sunday Alamba)

Whenever I hear people complain about the Nigerian police force, I just shake my head in disgust because I get tired and emotional talking about them.

Saying that the Nigerian police force is corrupt is just an understatement. There is no word in the English dictionary yet to describe how corrupt they are; all I can say is that they are “fantastically and stinkingly corrupt”. 

I have yet to meet a police officer who is not grossly corrupt; both senior and junior officers are all birds of a feather. I meet and interact with police officers on a daily basis due to the nature of my job as a lawyer and I have both senior and junior police officers as acquaintances; some of them I have acted on some occasions as their lawyer so I can boldly speak as an insider that the corruption in the Nigerian police force is far more than it meets the eye. It is unfathomable, indescribable, if you think you have seen it before, believe me, that you haven’t scratched the surface yet. 

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I make this statement with the full knowledge of its gravity and with every atom of responsibility that the Nigerian police force is the most corrupt institution in Nigeria, followed closely by the Nigerian civil services. The religious leaders and the politicians can compete for third and fourth place in the cadre of corruption respectively. 

For instance, whenever you walk into any police station to make a complaint or file a petition or report a crime as a patriotic citizen, you will be asked to pay money before you can successfully file the petition or make your statement and they demand the payment with so much flair letting you know that that is how it is done, if you are not ready to pay then you are not ready to file the petition. If you insist that you won’t pay, they might just collect the petition and shove it under the desk and your complaints will never be attended to or assigned to a unit to be investigated.

From paying money to file a petition or make the criminal report/ complaint, you will be asked to pay another money for the petition to be approved, then you will pay another money for the investigation, then pay more money to fast-track track investigation to paying money to mobilize the officers for the arrest of the suspect and subsequently pay another money to make sure that the suspect when arrested will not be arbitrarily released. After paying all this money, they might still collect from the suspect and release him. 

The officers demand this payment as if it is the right thing, at any point you refuse to pay then your case will be stalled until you are ready to “roger or wet ground”. 

Every lawyer or any person who has done anything with the police can collaborate with this. I am not making it up.

They are so greedy and corruption-infested that they also demand money from anybody, even those who come to report the murder of their loved ones. How can you ask a wife whose husband has just been murdered to pay money before you can commence investigations? 

The corruption of the police does not even start or end with them always demanding money, they are very nonchalant in terms of doing their jobs, they are power-drunk and the majority of them are grossly incompetent. 

Don’t get me started on them withholding every proceeds of crime they recovered or selling them off. If you report that your item was stolen, and you pay all this money to have it recovered by the police, there’s a high chance that after it is recovered by the police they won’t release it to you, they will keep it for themselves or sell it off.

All the heads of police always make the promise that they will fight corruption in the force but it’s always the same stories over and over. The corruption keeps eating deep. It now appears that the corruption has overwhelmed the force that cleansing it or weeding it out will be practically impossible because if you want to fire the corrupt officers then you will literally have to fire every member of the Nigerian police force.

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