Officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) have revealed that their decision to exploit members of the public by demanding “bribes” in various guises is subtly encouraged within the Force.
An officer attached to Sango Ota Police Division, who spoke to SaharaReporters, said policemen were given “targets”, as a directive from the state Police Command on the amount to remit weekly.
Ajuwon Division, Ojodu-Abiodun Division, Sango Division, Ifo Division, Ewekoro Division, Igbogu Division and Itele Division were mentioned as the divisions where the act is grossly encouraged. He added that the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in Ogun State work together in agreeing on a uniform figure every team is expected to remit weekly.
“In my division, each team was given a target of N20,000 to remit every week. We are subjected to this task and there is nothing we can do about it, except we are ready to suffer the consequences,” he said.
Another officer in the Ogun State Police Command revealed that one of the Area Commanders who wanted to buy a television set for the Police Commissioner, Ahmed Iliyasu, tasked all officers under him to get the money for the TV set.
“The Area Commander of Sango Ota promised to buy a television set worth N900,000 for the Ogun State Commissioner of Police. As we speak today, the money has been shared around the divisions under Ota Area and the amount shared to our team was N20,000. Each team is expected to bring N20,000 and it is to be paid within the next two weeks,” he said.
Another officer under the Sango Ota Area said his team had been tasked to remit N7,000 as contribution for the wedding ceremony of the son of the Ogun CP.
“Aside the N20,000, the Police Commissioner’s son is getting married in Kaduna State and they also said they are going to raise N500,000 from each area command under Ogun. The money has been divided to each division and the money that was shared to each team is N7,000.
“You can imagine how this will make officers desperate to meet the target. It has become a tradition now, as it must be complete. The only way to meet this target is to extort and arm-twist innocent Nigerians on the street.”
A recruit expressed dissatisfaction with the extortion by Lagos policemen, stating that the rot in the Police Force “cannot be cleansed because it comes directly from the top”.
“When I joined, I saw that the DPOs and Area Commanders back and support the act," he said.
"They even go as far as telling the officers how much to bring daily and how to go about it. The DPO of Oworonshoki Police Division is one of the key culprits, as he always gives high targets daily. He sometimes asks for N150,000, N200,000 and more when weekend approaches."
It was gathered that some of the officers who refused or were unable to meet the target risked being sanctioned by the DPO of the station.
An officer, who had been sanctioned because he failed to participate in the extortion, said he was removed from his post and made to open the gate for vehicles in the station.
“Officers who failed to meet the target are penalised and sometimes given bad posting, especially to a place where they will feel the heat of the job. I was once sent to become a gateman and this can be done to anybody, regardless of rank or years in service."
The officer also referred to another instance when a two-star officer was made a guard room officer.
“One of my colleagues was demoted and made to work as guardroom officer, a post meant for an inspector. The DPO was boasting that he would bench anybody who fails to meet the target and make them suffer,” the officer said.
Police Maintain Stand against Extortion
The Nigeria Police Force, however, has continued to kick against extortion of the public by its officers across the country.
On January 18, 2019, Adekunle Oladunjoye, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), said the Force would not hesitate to punish and dismiss any officer caught in any misconduct or negative actions that could tarnish the image of the force.
“For your information, some policemen are in prison today because of the way they behaved which is against the police law," he said. "Therefore, you must be conversant with police law and guidelines. You must be incorruptible in your daily duties and must not extort the public for whatever reason.”
Similarly, the Police recently sanctioned 28 officers in Anambra State for various offences, including the bribery and extortion.