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*How Corrupt Nigeria Police Illegally Enriched The Force With Over N53.48b ($336.5m ) From Roadblock Extortion
By Intersociety, Nigeria
63rd Anniversary Of The World Human Rights Day - 2011 UDHR
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria
With A Report (2) On:
Police Corruption As Human Rights Abuse: How Corrupt Nigeria Police Personnel Illegally Enriched The Force With Over N53.48Billion ($336.5 Million) Arising From Roadblock Extortion In Three Years 2009-2011
For Immediate Release: Onitsha-Nigeria, 11th December 2011
In 2001, this writer who was the Anambra State Branch Chairman of the Nigeria’s Civil Liberties Organization (formed in 1987), introduced an advocacy against Police roadblocks and extortions in Anambra State. The reports on the subject matter featured prominently in his leadership activities until September 2007 when he relinquished his Chairmanship of the CLO to Comrade Aloysius Attah. In 2009, he re-introduced the advocacy in the Intersociety. Until recently when the survey was extended to the Southeast Nigeria, Anambra State had been used as a case study.
In 2009, an internationally respected rights watchdog, the Human Rights Watch of USA (formerly Helsinki Watch formed in 1978) indicated interest in investigating “Police Corruption in Nigeria as a major factor sustaining the culture of criminal killings and impunity among the personnel of the Force”. The HRW Researcher for Nigeria, Mr. Eric Guttschuss made a trip to Nigeria and visited Anambra State, where he was aided in his investigation by Intersociety. In the HRW’s investigation, Anambra State particularly Onitsha was chosen as a case study as well as few other Nigerian cities. In May 2010, we commenced an investigation into the activities of Police personnel, especially the Mobile Police Personnel on the Southeast roads, including Anambra State.
In the course of our investigation, using traditional principles of investigation such as eye witnesses’ accounts, on-the-spot accounts, commonsense calculations, etc, we discovered, chillingly, that there were over 1,350 roadblocks on Southeast roads including those leading into and out of the zone. We also discovered that the major “business” of most, if not all the Police personnel manning the said roadblocks is sundry extortion of commercial and private vehicle, tricycle and motorcycle operators and owners as well as other road users, especially those carrying wares and personal belongings.
On 27th July 2010, we released a statement stating in details how Police personnel in the Southeast zone smiled to the banks illegally with N9.35 Billion (over $60 Million) arising from roadblock extortion in eighteen months (January 2009 to June 2010). On 18th August 2010, the leadership of Human Rights Watch, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), Access to Justice and Intersociety addressed an International Press Conference in Lagos, coordinated by the Human Rights Watch, with a report, titled: “Everyone’s In On The Game”, Corruption and Human Rights by the Nigeria Police Force, authored by the HRW. It gladdens our heart to say that we provided statistics including pictures that coloured the report through our two public statements dated 18th August 2010 and 26th August 2010, which were titled: “In Solidarity With Human Rights Watch (USA)” and “Re-Corruption In The Nigeria Police Force: Putting The Records Straight”.
The findings arising from our investigations in Anambra State and the Southeast zone in addition to other social variables were used in estimating that in eighteen months, that is to say, January 2009 to June 2010, the Nigeria Police Force illegally raked in N20.5 Billion ($133.5Million) from roadblocks nationwide.
Re-visiting The Issue:
Today, a critical look at the number of roadblocks by the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force and their patterns of extortion on Nigerian roads particularly in the Southeast zone shows that the situation is getting worse. These graft practices have become worst under Alhaji Hafiz Abubakar Ringim’s as Inspector General of Police (IGP), who was the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in-charge of the Southeast’s Zone 9 when the reports were issued in August 2010.
Our further checks since then show that other than September 2010, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has retained similar number of roadblocks in Anambra State and the States in the Southeast. September 2010 was probably the “roadblock and road extortion free period” for the people of the Southeast zone as a result of an order for “immediate dismantling of roadblocks” in the zone issued by the former IGP, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo, arising from public outcries from our reports of July/August 2010, which was greeted with several threats by those Police road blockers that the roads would be flooded with an army of “armed robbers”.
It is entirely correct to say that the best way to ascertain how serious or otherwise the Nigerian governing authorities are in anti-corruption crusade is it to look at the activities of the Nigeria Police personnel on the roads. Perhaps, the CSO to the President and ADCs to the former and present EFCC bosses have their “boys” on the roads, yet they said they are fighting corruption. Before our recent re-investigation of the menace of roadblocks on Nigerian roads, particularly Anambra and Southeast roads, the number of police roadblocks was still estimated at over 1,350 with Anambra State alone accounting for over 350 of them. But as of September, October and November 2011, when we went back to re-investigate the number of roadblocks and their patterns of extortion; the number had increased to over 400 in Anambra State and over 1.500 in the Southeast zone.
Roadblock Extortion As Part Of Blue-collar Criminality:
According to the Department of Criminology & Security Studies of the National Open University of Nigeria and the 2009 edition of the Black’s Law Dictionary, “blue-collar crime is regarded as any crime committed by any individual from a lower social class, as opposed to white-collar crime committed by an individual of higher social class. An example of a blue-collar criminal is a police officer that demands and collects bribes at a Police checkpoint or roadblock. On the other hand, it is bribery when one other than a public official corruptly takes the initiative and offers what he or she knows is not an authorized fee to a public official; and it is extortion when a public official corruptly makes an unlawful demand which is paid by one who does not realize it is not the fee authorized for the services rendered”.
The roadblock extortion is the easiest and most lucrative means of corrupt enrichment by the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force ranging from Police constables to Police Inspector General. This illegality has been so entrenched in the Force that it may be correct to say that every senior Police officer from the rank of Deputy Superintendent (DSP) to IGP is linked to the “Nigerian roadblock extortion culture”. It is well patterned; it starts from a Police road blocker or a team of Police road blockers usually three to five in number, who directly extort commercial vehicle, motorcycle and tricycle operators and indirectly extort private vehicle, motorcycle and tricycle owners and other road users traveling with their wares and personal belongings by crookedly enquiring into their vehicular papers and proprieties of their wares and personal effects. These extortionists usually station some people in mufti who “offload” money collected usually in N20.00 and N50.00 notes for safe keeping till end of the graft exercise when it is shared accordingly.
In sharing the graft proceeds, the “boys on the road”, “unofficially” corner half of its total and present the remainder, which is shared according to the dictates of the “Police-return-culture”, which takes the following shapes: the road team leader returns to the general team leader, who returns to the Mobile Police Squadron Commander or the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in-charge of the Police Division or Station where they are attached. The DPO collects from all his or her field squads and returns to his or her Area Commander; the Area Commander collects from his other DPOs and his or her field squads and returns to the Commissioner of Police through ACP for Operations; the CP collects from his or her ACPs and other formations and returns to the Assistant Inspector General in-charge of his or her zone, who collects from his or her CPs and other extortionist formations and returns to his or her DIG, who finally returns to his or her IGP. The IGP, in turn, reaches out to his or her “boys” (within the Force) and “men” outside the Force usually those manning oversight agencies, in the form of “cut” for his or her “boys” and “kola” for his or her men. This is done routinely, in return for protection and security of office.
According to Wikipedia Internet Encyclopedia-2011, “there are 371,800 sworn Police officers in Nigeria”. As of 2008, according to the TELL Magazine of 30th August 2010, at page 48, other than the Force Headquarters in Abuja, “there were 12 Zonal Commands of the Nigeria Police Force headed by 12 AIGs, 37 State Commands and FCT, headed by 37 Commissioners of Police, 127 Area Commands headed by 127 ACPs, 1,129 Police Divisions headed by 1,129 DPOs, 1,579 Police Stations, 2,165 Police Posts and 1,591 Village Police Posts in Nigeria. There were also one IGP, six DIGs, 20 AIGs, 99 Commissioners of Police, 141 Deputy Commissioners, 355 Assistant Commissioners, 1,407 Chief Superintendents, 1,498 Superintendents, 3,875 Deputy Superintendents, 13,221 Assistant Superintendents, 28,175 Inspectors, 42,975 Sergeants, 41,795 Corporals and 178,107 Constables” in the Nigeria Police Force bringing the total to 311,675 police officers and 6,651 field police formations in Nigeria as of 2008. As of March 2011, according to the Policy & Legal Advocacy Centre‘s Laws & Facts Guiding Nigeria’s Election 2011, there were “one IGP, seven DIGs, 21 AIGs and over seventy CPs in the Nigeria Police Force”. Also, according to Retired DIG Parry Osayande, Chairman, Nigeria’s Police Service Commission, “there were 377,000 police personnel in the NPF as of January 2009”. These varying figures clearly depict absence of sound database and e-policing in the NPF.
There are 3,500 kilometers of railways in Nigeria manned by the Nigeria Police Force through its Railway Police, 8,600 kilometers of inland waterways manned by Marine Police or Nigerian Port Authority Police of the NPF; and 22 airports manned by Airport Police of the NPF. In these places, various forms of extortion are going on including at the border posts.
There are also four trans-national highways in Nigeria. It may be correct to say that most, if not all Police officers in Nigeria particularly those in the command structure ranging from Assistant Superintendents of Police to Inspector General of Police are by far, living above their statutory earnings owing to bloody proceeds arising from graft practices. Out of the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, Southeast is the most lucrative for graft Police jobs, followed by South-south, Southwest, North-central, Northwest and Northeast.
An average Police officer considers posting to any State in the North as “a curse” or “punishment” and posting to the Southeast zone as “a national merit award” because of its potentials to enrich him or her in a twinkle of an eye through graft practices. It appears that there exists a cabal in the NPF that ensures movement of Police officers to the Southeast zone under dubious circumstances. It is a routine for a Police officer to “work” for his or her transfer to the Southeast zone. It is even considered as a punishment culture in the NPF to post “erring” Police officers out of the Southeast zone usually to the North. The foregoing are some of the patterns that have sustained graft practices in the NPF till date.
Extortion & Its Proceeds:
There are various ways through which Nigeria Police officers engage in extortion. Various forms of extortion also abound, which include “wetin you carry”, illegal pre-detention and post detention bail fees, extortion at the point of arrest, extortion arising from mass arrest or “from where to where extortion”, extortion arising from crooked enquiries into vehicular papers, election-related bribes and extortion, and roadblock extortion. Among these, roadblock extortion is the most common and lucrative. As of 2004, N10.00 was used by the NPF as roadblock extortion benchmark in Nigeria especially in the Southeast part. By 2005, it increased to N20.00 and as at present, it has increased to N40.00/N50.00 on average per trip. The N40.00/N50.00 is basic because payment depends on the type of commercial vehicle and Police squad on the road. For instance, for the Federal Highway Police, it is N200.00 up to N5,000.00 depending on the “offence”. For the red-capped Anti-Terrorism Police squads, it is N50.00 upwards for every commercial bus, tricycle and motorcycle. For each commercial motorcycle carrying goods to motor parks, it is N50.00/N100.00 per roadblock. The general duty Police officers or those in black uniforms collect N20.00/ N40.00 toll and N1,000.00 and above from vehicle users accused of “incomplete papers”.
The Okada Law of 2009 passed by the Anambra State House of Assembly, limiting Okada (commercial motorcycle) operation to 7pm has been twisted by the State Police Command and the over 1,000 vigilante groups in the State, in the form of “curfew”. The private motorcycle and tricycle owners as well as pedestrians exempted by the Law are routinely targeted, arrested and extorted. For every private motorcycle impounded, it is N5, 000.00 and for every pedestrian arrested, it is also N5,000 while commercial motorcycles and tricycles owned by Soldiers, Police officers, Vigilante operatives and their friends are allowed to operate during the legally forbidden hours. Not even a single defaulter has been taken to Court for prosecution for violating the said law; instead, it has become an avenue for corrupt enrichment.
From January 2009 to June 2010, a period of 18 months, the number of the roadblocks on the Southeast roads was estimated at over 1,350, from which the police personnel in the zone illegally realized an estimated sum of N9.35 Billion from N20.00 roadblock extortion.
The sum of N3.3 Billion was reportedly realized in Anambra State from the graft practices between June 1999 and December 2008. As of June 2009, the reported number of roadblocks was put at over 150 in the State. They increased to 300 in December 2009 and 350 as of June 2010, yielding about N2.880 Billion in 18 months. In course of our field investigations, we counted 300 roadblocks on Anambra roads and 1000 on Southeast roads in April 2010, with Abia and Anambra States accounting for over 750 roadblocks, followed by Imo State with 250 roadblocks, Enugu State 200 road-blocks, and Ebonyi State 150 road-blocks, all amounting to over 1,350 roadblocks in the zone. Using the findings obtained in the Southeast zone, in addition to other social variables, we estimated that N20.5 Billion was illegally realized from the six geopolitical zones of Southeast – N9.35 Billion; South-south - N4 Billion, South-West - N4 Billion; North-Central – N1 Billion; North-West - N500 Million; and North-East - N500 Million.
We had in our research in 2010 established that different social variables abound in the five States of the Southeast as well as other geopolitical zones in terms of their potentials for roadblock extortions. For instance, Anambra and Abia States are core blue-collar societies that are very prone to roadblocks and extortions. Imo State, which borders them, is relatively blue-collar, but Enugu and Ebonyi States are relatively white-collar societies or “civil service” States. These have an impact on the number of roadblocks and patterns of extortion. Coupled with suppressive policies of the Southeast’s partners in the Nigerian project against the zone, arising from the 1967 -1970 Civil War, the Southeast has become a “Police zone” and “center of Police corruption in Nigeria”.
In 2010, from our work, we gathered that in Anambra, Abia and Imo States, an average of N20,000 is returned daily from each roadblock, while N10,000.00 is returned in Enugu and Ebonyi States because of their “civil service” status. A benchmark of N20.00 per ‘extortee’ was used in the five States. In some cases, as much as N60,000 is returned per roadblock, while in rare cases as low as N5,000 is returned. In this report, we have discarded the benchmark of N20.00 just as most of the extortionist Police officers have graduated to N40.00/N50.00 benchmark. It is often said that it is better to under-estimate than to over-estimate. We have adopted N40.00 for the Southern part of Nigeria including Southeast zone and N20.00 for the Northern part including North-central.
Accounts By Some Victims:
Mr. Chike Odoh is an Onitsha based commercial bus driver that engages in “town service”, plying Niger Bridge-head end of Onitsha - Enugu dual carriageway to the Old Toll Gate end of the road at Umunya, Anambra State that is about 12 kilometers. He told Intersociety that before now, he used to charge N40.00 per passenger for a trip with 10 passengers but because of increasing extortions at the Police road blocks, which are about six for less than 12 kilometers journey, he now carries 14 passengers and charges N70.00 for each trip. He makes N980.00 from a trip and spends N300.00 on Police extortion alone. He said he covers about 14 trips daily and spends N4,200 on Police extortion out of less than N14,000.00 and that each trip costs him five liters of fuel at N325.00. When money spent on fuel and Police extortion is deducted, in addition to “agboro fee”, Mr. Odoh says he is left with less than N5,000.00 per day.
Mr. Ozoemena Okoro is an Onitsha Okada rider, who ferries goods to Upper Iweka motor parks from Bridgehead market. He told Intersociety that before now he charged N200.00 for five cartons of engineering tools per trip, but because of four Police road-blocks on Port Harcourt Road, Fegge, Onitsha, who collect N50.00 per trip, he now charges N400.00 per trip. He said that on a good day, he records 15 trips worth N6,000.00 and spends N3,000.00 on Police extortion. Similar situations are obtained in other parts of Anambra State, which has over 200 markets and Abia State as well.
Translating The Findings Into Statistics:
Judging from the foregoing, the basic daily return of N20, 000 per roadblock may have been unarguably established. But because of the increases in the sundry extortion sums, this basic daily return of N20,000 has become unrealistic particularly in Anambra, Abia and Imo States. Our calculation is that if at N20.00 toll, an average police extortionist squad goes home with N20,000 per day, then at N40.00/N50.00 toll, which they now collect, the daily return will automatically change to N40,000 per day on average. Our arriving at N20,000/N40,000 daily return per roadblock was as a result of pieces of information we gathered from various police stations in the Southeast zone as well as police stations in Benin, Edo State, Okene in Kogi State and Abeokuta in Ogun State. They all chose not to be named. Our calculation was also authenticated by some roads users interviewed particularly the commercial vehicle drivers.
Therefore, the realistic basic daily return now is N40,000 for the three States, N20,000 for Enugu and Ebonyi States as well as N20,000 for South-south and South-west zones, and N5,000.00 for North-West, North-East and North-central zones. In the course of our research in the Northern part recently; we discovered that Police roadblocks and extortion are concentrated on Federal roads and few State and City roads. In the FCT (Abuja), for instance, roadblocks and extortion are almost absent in the towns of the FCT, but visible on Abuja - Suleja and Lokoja - Abuja federal roads. But in the Southern part, particularly the Southeast, which is also highly commercialized, urbanized and densely populated, the graft practices are found at every nook and cranny of the zone. In our calculations from July 2010 to December 2010, we retained N20.00/N20, 000 daily basic returns for Anambra, Abia and Imo States, and N20.00/N10, 000 for Enugu and Ebonyi States. But from January to December 2011, we used N40.00/N40, 000 for Anambra, Abia and Imo States and N40.00/N20, 000 for Enugu and Ebonyi States.
Presently, according to the information obtained from the official website of the Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Commission, “there are 34,120 km of Federal roads (17%), 34,300 km of State roads (17%) and 129,580km of LGA roads (66%) in Nigeria amounting to 198,000 km. There are also four Nigerian transnational highways”. For the purpose of roadblocks and extortion, Federal roads, which are mostly inter-State roads with high traffic density (FRSC 2011) and chunk of the State roads, are used as instruments of Police roadblocks and extortion particularly in the Southeast zone. From our further investigations, “there are 3,231km of Federal roads in the Southeast, 4,150km in the South-South, 4,161km in the Southwest, 6,363km in the Northwest, and 6,787km in the Northeast and 9,756km in the North-central including the FCT”(source: Research Dept. Occasion Paper of the Central Bank of Nigeria).
As at the first week of December 2011, the number of roadblocks in the Southeast zone was estimated at over 1,500 with Anambra and Abia States accounting for over 800 Police roadblocks followed by Imo State with 300; and Enugu and Ebonyi States with 400. We counted 1,200 of such roadblocks in November 2011 alone. Some of the Federal roads we visited are: Onitsha - Owerri dual carriage way (90.5km) - 62 roadblocks, Onitsha - Enugu dual carriage way - 55 roadblocks, Enugu - Port Harcourt dual carriage way - 104 roadblocks, Onitsha – Asaba - Benin dual carriage way - 20 road-blocks, Oturkpa – Nsukka – 9th Mile Federal road - 20 roadblocks, Onitsha - Enugu old road - 25 roadblocks, and Enugu - Abakiliki Federal road - 20 roadblocks. There are also Aba - Ikot-Ekpene, Owerri - Aba, Uturu – Okigwe - Abakiliki, Oba – Nnewi -Okigwe, Ekwuluobia – Oko - Ibinta, AbakilikI - Ogoja, Umuahia – Ariam - Ikot-Ekpene, Owerri – Elele - Port Harcourt, Umuahia – Obowo - Owerri, Umuahia -Bende, and Atani – Ogwuikpere - Ndoni roads, all federal roads with at least 10 road-blocks on each of them. There are over 6,000 kilometers of Federal and State roads in the Southeast zone and a number of LGA roads paved and asphalted particularly those in urban centers called “street-roads”. They are part of the places where Police roadblocks and extortions are carried out. And it may be correct to say that for every three kilometers of road in the Southeast, a police road-block/extortion point is found. In the South-south and Southwest zones, it is 10km per roadblock and in the Northern part; it is about 20 km per roadblock. These are on average.
In Onitsha and Nnewi areas, the story is the same, if not the worst. For instance, on Niger Street to the Onitsha Main Market’s Sokoto Road, which is less than 1km, there are five roadblocks. From Zik’s Avenue to Ochanja market roundabout in Onitsha, which is less than 1km, there are four roadblocks. Others are Port Harcourt road to Onitsha Upper Iweka particularly Miss Elems/Port Harcourt road junction, there are five roadblocks; Upper Iweka to Modebe Street - six road-blocks, Bida Road to Onitsha Main Market - four road-blocks, etc.
With 350 roadblocks per day from July to December 2010, multiplied by N20,000, it may be correct to say that the Anambra State Police Command illegally realized N7 Million per day, N210 Million per month and N1.26 Billion for the period. It may also be correct to say that with 400 roadblocks per day from January to December 2011, multiplied by N40,000, the Anambra State Police Command illegally realizes N16 Million per day, N480 Million per month and N5.76 Billion for 2011, all amounting to N7 Billion in the past 18 months.
In Abia State, it is same with Anambra State, which is N7 Billion in the past 18 months. In Imo State, with about 300 road-blocks from July to December 2010, multiplied by N20,000, it is N6 Million per day, N180 Million per month and N1,08 Billion for the six months, while with 300 road-blocks from January to December 2011, multiplied by N40,000, the Imo State Police Command is likely to illegally realize N12 Million per day, N360 Million per month and N4.32 Billion in 2011. In Enugu State, it may be correct to say that the State Police Command illegally realized in the last six months of 2010, the sum of N2 Million per day, N60 Million per month and N360 Million using N10,000 to multiply 200 road-blocks. In 2011, using 200 road-blocks to multiply new N20,000 basic daily return, Enugu State Police Command is likely to illegally realize N4 Million per day, N120 Million per month and N1,44 Billion in 2011.
In Ebonyi State, the Police Command using 150 road-blocks multiplied by N10,000 basic daily return in the last six months of 2010 might have illegally realized N1.5 Million per day, N45 Million per month and N270 Million in the six months. In 2011, using N20,000 new basic daily return multiplied by 200 roadblocks, the Ebonyi Sate Police Command is likely to illegally realize N4 Million per day, N120 Million per month and N1,44 Billion in 2011.
In all, the over 1,500 Police road-blocks estimated to be in the Southeast zone are likely to illegally enrich the NPF to the tune of N21.91 Billion in the past 18 months, that is to say July 2010 to December 2011, with Anambra and Abia States coming top with N7 Billion each, followed by Imo State with N5.4 Billion; Enugu N1.8 Billion and Ebonyi N1.71 Billion. When the said sum of N22.91 Billion is added to the sum of N9.35 Billion believed to have been illegally realized between January 2009 and June 2010, a period of 18 months, it may be correct to say that in the past three years (2009 - 2011), the Police road-blocks in the Southeast zone are likely to illegally fetch the Police Force the sum of N32.26 Billion.
The above illegal sum only covers roadblock extortions, that is to say illegal toll collections and extortions associated with crooked enquiries into vehicular papers or documents. That September 2010 was relatively a roadblock and extortion free period did not have any significant impact on the said N32.26 Billion illegal proceeds.
In the South-south zone, which has 4,150 km of Federal roads, using 15km of road per road-block for July to December 2010 or about 400 road-blocks with old N20.00 /N10,000 daily basic return, it may be correct to say that the Police in the zone illegally realized N720 Million in the last six months of 2010, that is to say N4 Million per day and N120 Million per month. But from January to December 2011, using 10km of road per road-block or 500 road-blocks and new N40.00/N20,000 daily basic return, the Police in the zone are likely to illegally enrich themselves to the tune of N3.6 Billion, that is to say N10 Million per day and N300 Million per month. In the South-west with 4,161km of Federal roads, with 15km per road-block in July to December 2010 or 400 road-blocks and 10km per road-block or 500 road-blocks in 2011, the sum of N720 Million and N3.6 Billion might have been illegally realized respectively within the period under review, that is to say the zone share the same status with the South-south zone in terms of Police road-blocks and extortion. The Police roadblocks and extortions are mostly found on Lagos – Ibadan expressway, Lagos – Ore - Benin expressway, Ibadan-Ife road, Lagos-Badagry road and Ibadan - Ilorin road. It should be noted that while two major forms of roadblock extortions thrive in the Southeast zone, that is to say illegal toll collection and vehicular “incomplete papers” oriented extortion, illegal toll collection mostly thrives in the South-south and the Southwest zones.
Therefore, it may be correct to say that the extortionist Police personnel in the South-south zone had in the past three years, January 2009 to December 2011 illegally realized a total sum of N8.32 Billion from road-block extortions, that is to say N4 Billion from January 2009 to June 2010, N720 Million from July to December 2010 and N3.6 Billion from January to December 2011. A total of N8.32 Billion might also have been illegally realized within the same period in the Southwest zone because of the same number of roadblocks and same patterns of extortion. From the two geopolitical zones, it may be correct to say that a grand total of N16.64 Billion might have been illegally realized in three years, 2009 to 2011.
In the Northwest zone, Police road-blocks and extortions are mostly found on its Federal roads and few other strategic areas in Kano and Kaduna States dominated by people from other parts of the country particularly those from the Southeast zone (i.e. Sabongari area in Kano). There are 6,363 km of Federal roads in the Northwest zone on average of 20km of road per roadblock or 300 roadblocks in the zone. Using a daily basic return of N20.00/N5,000, it may be correct to say that a total sum of N810 Million was illegally realized by the extortionist Police personnel in the zone in the past 18 months, that is to say July 2010 to December 2011. Added to the sum of N500 Million reported to have realized from January 2009 to June 2010, it may be correct to say that a total sum of N1.21 Billion had been illegally realized in the zone since 2009 or in the past three years. The said Police roadblocks and extortions in the zone are mostly found on Kano- Katsina Federal road (156km), Katsina - Funtua Federal road, Zamfara - Sokoto Federal road, Sokoto – Argungu - Kebi Federal road, Kano - Wudil Federal road, Lamba – Kudini- Kazuere Federal road, Kankia – Dutsimma – Safana – Batsari - Katsina Federal road and Malunfashi – Dabai – Dayi - Bakori Federal road.
In the Northeast zone with 6,787 km of Federal roads such as Bauchi – Gombe - Yola Federal road, Bauchi - Tafawa-Balewa - Langtang Federal road and Bauchi - Ningi Federal road, using the same yardsticks used in the Northwest, it may be correct to say that the 300 road-blocks in the zone had illegally fetched the NPF the total sum of N1.21 Billion in the past three years, 2009 to 2011. In the North-central zone, with 9,756 km of Federal roads including the FCT, up to 400 roadblocks may exist. The zone is relatively “busy” because it hosts the FCT and connects Southwest zone to the Northern part of the country. Using daily basic return of N20.00/N5,000 toll benchmark, it may be correct to say that the total sum of N2.16 Billion had been illegally realized in the past three years, that is to say N2 Million per day from N400 road-blocks, N60 Million per month and N720 Million per year. Road-blocks and extortions in the zone are mostly found on Abuja - Minna Federal road, Abuja -Keffi Federal road, Keffi – Gubi - Akwanga Federal road, Keffi - Nasarrawa Federal road, Akwanga - Makurdi Federal road (90km), Abuja - Jos Federal road, Abuja - Ilorin Federal road and Lokoja - Ilorin Federal highway.
In all, it may be correct to say that in the three Northern zones of North-west, North-east and North-central, a total sum of N4.58 Billion had been illegally realized in the past three years, 2009 to 2011, from road-block extortions by the Nigeria Police Force. In other words, with average of 20km of road per road-block in the three geopolitical zones of the North, including the FCT (Abuja), it may be correct to say that the 1,000 Police road-blocks in the three zones have illegally fetched the NPF a total sum of N4.580 Billion in the past three years. This clearly shows that the three zones with over 20,000 km of Federal roads are road-blocked with only 1,000 Police road-blocks, whereas the South-east zone with only 3,231 km of Federal roads is road-blocked with over 1,500 Police roadblocks mounted by the NPF. It is safe to conclude that the Southeast now is like a war zone, courtesy of the Federal Government and its NPF. It may also be safe to submit that three pillars of war exist in the South-east zone, that is to say economic war; psychological war and physical war and these wars are executed using both visible and invisible coercive government instruments, including the NPF.
Totally, it may be right to conclude that Police roadblock extortions on Nigerian roads had in the past three years (2009 - 2011) illegally fetched the NPF a total sum of N53.48 Billion. That is to say South-east with average of 3km of road per Police road-block or over 1,500 road-blocks fetched the NPF N32.26 Billion in the past three years; South-west with average of 10km of road per road-block or over 500 road-blocks - N8.32 Billion; South-south with average of 10km of road per road-block or over 500 road-blocks - N8.32 Billion; North-west with average of 20km of road per road-block or over 300 road-blocks - N1.21 Billion; North-east with average of 20km of road per road-block or over 300 road-blocks - N1.21 Billion, and North-central with average of 20km of road per road-block or over 400 road-blocks -N2.16 Billion, totaling N53.48 Billion in the past three years - 2009 to 2011.
Consequences Of Police Corruption:
The roadblock extortions by Nigeria Police Force have grossly eroded its competence and professionalism, particularly in the area of crime detention and prevention. Of all the departments in the Force, their anti-riot departments, Mobile Police Personnel (MPF) now are the most spoilt and stained. Three, if not four, out of every five riffles carried by the extortionist Mobile Police personnel on the roads are believed by many not to be efficiently operational due to lack of routine servicing.
Also, four out of every five MPF personnel on the roads are not physically fit and combat-ready owing to the total absence of routine physical exercises, which now are swallowed by early hour rush to road-blocks so as to “meet up with Oga’s daily return”. It is important to state that corruption kills conscience; it disfigures individual, and destroys competence and professionalism. For instance, when a corrupt professor talks, he talks like a moron. Some, if not many MPF personnel, especially those on the evening “duties” hardly return their riffles to their stations’ armories for routine checks and servicing. Instead, they hang them somewhere at the end of daily “duties” and retire to liquor joints and brothels, after which they recover them and head back to their roadblock scenes the next day without undergoing any physical fitness exercise and subjecting their riffles to servicing.
This explains why they detach their service uniforms and numbers and run like fowls when children throw fireworks or knockouts in a neighbourhood. But in the Army, till date, it is a routine or compulsory to engage in early morning physical exercise so as to engender agility. Days are gone when admirers called MPF personnel “agile MOPOLs”. Today, they can best be described as “shivering MOPOLs” and “toyish combatants”, no thanks to roadblock corruption.
Again, using the personnel of the Nigeria Mobile Police Force, originally trained for crowd or riot control, as major crime fighters is a disaster. Why? Experience has shown that many of them lack requisite knowledge in anti-crime tactics, including crime detection, crime control and crime prevention. Basic knowledge in Police psychology is even lacking in them. On the other hand, criminals and other social deviants have taken the positions traditionally meant for law-abiding citizens in the society. Police in Nigeria now treat criminals and other social deviants like angels and treat law-abiding citizens like common criminals.
There are “official” and “unofficial” men of underworld in Nigeria today, killing, maiming and extorting innocent Nigerians on daily basis on roads. It is correct to say that the Nigeria Police Force has turned its guns against the same citizens they are paid to protect, instead of turning them on criminals. Southeast zone, indeed, is under siege! The present Government of Anambra State, for instance, had since 2006 till date provided over 200 patrol vans and other crime fighting gadgets, including monthly fuel and maintenance funds valued at over N4 Billion to the State Police Command and others to ensure effective patrol and surveillance throughout the State. The State Government has also set up a security trust fund with N250Million takeoff and an annual target of N1Billion to be attracted into it from donor agencies. More patrol vans have been purchased and are ready to be distributed to police and other security agencies in the State. Sadly, most of these vehicles now are used to convey the extortionist MPF personnel and the general duty Police personnel to their extortion points, described by the Anambra State Police Command sometime ago, as “nipping points”. Two out of every five roadblocks or extortion points in Anambra State are manned with an operational vehicle donated by the Government and People of Anambra State.
It is our recommendation that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces should issue a detailed presidential directive to the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Hafiz Abubakar Ringim and the Chairman of the Nigeria Police Service Commission, Retired DIG Parry Osayande as well as the Police Affairs Minister to dismantle all the road-blocks on Nigerian roads, especially in the South-east zone and recall all the Police personnel engaging in such graft practices back to their stations for legitimate duties other than mounting road-blocks and extorting innocent Nigerians.
If there must be security checkpoints on Nigerian roads, they must be fewer in number and strictly meant for “check and go”. To avoid being abused again, the Inspector General of Police should be directed to compile the list of special security checkpoints nationwide and present it to the Federal Executive Council through the Police Affairs Minister for approval. If approved, the list should be made public by the Minister of Information, which must also be advertised in print, audio, audio-visual and online media. The list should also be posted on NPF and the Ministry of Police Affairs’ websites, if any.
Operational patrols, effective surveillance and intelligence gathering should be intensified nationwide and more patrol vans provided with their maintenance costs borne by relevant Federal and State governing authorities. The said special security checkpoints should be headed by Superintendents of Police (SPs), who must be present at all times at their duty posts. Effective Police patrol will deter criminal activities on our highways.
Every Police officer at such special security checkpoints nationwide must be made to wear his or her service uniforms and numbers for easy identification by concerned Nigerians in the event of any homicidal and graft practices. The un-announced or impromptu checks on vehicular papers by the Force should be discarded and the routine general checks re-adopted.
The use of and over-reliance on anti-riot Police personnel as major crime fighters in Nigeria should be drastically reduced. They should be withdrawn from roadblocks or extortion points and put to good use by being re-trained in effective crime detection, prevention and control. More attention should be given to the criminal intelligence department of the Force by way of overhauling and peopling it with more intelligent hands and adorning it with modern security or policing intelligence technology.
In view of the fact that the Nigeria Police Force is an agency of the Federal Government, which makes the Federal Government of Nigeria liable for its lawful and unlawful actions within the context of the principles of vicarious liability, it is our recommendation that the Federal Government should refund these stolen wealthy or sum of N53.48 Billion to the Governors’ Forum of the zones according to the total amount stolen. For instance, the South-east should be refunded N32.26 Billion, South-south - N8.32 Billion, South-west -N8.32 Billion, North-central - N2.16 Billion, North-west - N1.21 Billion and North-east - N1.21 Billion. The refunds should be tied to strategic road projects in the affected zones or States to be called “unity roads”.
In the event of failure by relevant Police authorities led by IGP Ringim to enforce the presidential directive, if approved, the IGP and all his sub-commanders including all serving DIGs, AIGs and CPs who are 50 years and above should be purged or weeded out of the Force. The headship of the Police Service Commission should not be spared as well. Also, the National honours bestowed on them should be withdrawn. We believe that Mr. President is also worried about this serious embarrassment and hope that such presidential directive would go a long way in addressing the problem of Police corruption in Nigeria frontally now.
The attention of the Government of Anambra State and the State House of Assembly is drawn to the graft activities of the Anambra State Police Command and the over 1,000 armed vigilante groups in the State by way of criminal conduct resulting from the misapplication of the Anambra State “Okada” Control Law of 2009, which now is translated into “a curfew Law”. It is our recommendation that efforts should be made to return the Law to its originally intended form and free the State residents from further agony in the hands of these graft infested security agents.
Prepared & Delivered At Media Forum In Onitsha, Nigeria, Today, 11th December 2011
Chairman, Board of Trustees
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule Of Law
Mobile Phone Nos: +234(0) 8033601078, +234(0) 8180103912
Attachments ( VIEW PHOTOS BELOW ) - Pictures Captured In November 2011 Showing Corrupt Personnel Of the NPF Mounting Roadblocks & Extorting N50.00 Note From Each Of The Nigerian Road Users With Guns Meant For the Security Of Nigerians.
Relevant Nigerian & International Public Institutions & Non Governmental Organizations
VIEW PHOTOS BELOW
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