Corruption and the Nigerian Police
By Dolapo Peregrino
“The police is your friend”, is a slogan that is well preached around the world. It is a saying that expresses the magnitude of confidence a country’s citizen should have in her police force.
Truly, the police force was created to give protection on life and properties. They are the instrument in the hands of the government to make peace and enforce law. They are the supposed guarding angel in time of trouble; civil troubles.
But on the contrary, the police force has been an institution where emotional hang ups and insecurities is a surety. it is a place of no respite. They have been the Inventor of corruption.
The dismissal, trial and incarceration of the former police boss, Alhaji Tafa Balogun is one of the outstanding testimonies that corruption cannot be far fetched from the police force.
Ordinarily, bringing the former inspector general of the Nigerian police to book would have had effect of putting fear in the minds of top public functionaries, particularly the rank and file in the police force; but the reverse is the case.
The one fact that stands out of all careful observers in all of this is that corruption has become so ingrained in the psyche of the average Nigerian that it appears that we have come to the state of the nation in which a great majority of our people accept evil as business as usual. Our minds have been engulfed with the Machiavellian principle; ‘the end justifies the means”.
Shortly after the conviction and the imprisonment of Tafa Balogun, I thought the corruption rate in the Nigerian police has come to an end.
But not as I think. On one of my trip to Ibadan I discovered that a number of road blocks has increased. I could not say whether the large number of road blocks was part of the police reaction to the conviction and imprisonment of the former inspector General.
The corruption practice of illegal toll collection was carried on like business as usual. It is a pointer that corruption is the survival of the fittest.
There are yet no high ways in Nigeria. What used to be express ways have been reduced by our police operative to local motor ways. The road blocks spot has been their cubicle where money is received just like cashier in the bank.
It is worthy to note that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) chairman recently publicly declared that Nigerian police and power holding company of Nigerian (PHCN) as the two most corrupt bodies in Nigeria.
Traditionally, the Police used to be a symbol of justice in the eyes of the common man. But today, it is the exact opposite. Many policemen are twisters of justice.
And yet for the ordinary man seeking justice, the police station is, of necessity the first port of call. In those days like in the 50s and 60s when the police were regarded as friends of the people, the police stations were thought of as haven of justice. There was honour then in being a police man. Indeed, the ordinary man could be assured of justice.
The quality of life in Nigeria today is poor and corruption has played a crucial role in making it so. It is believed that the nation cannot make any meaningful progress if the evil of corruption is dealt with. This is one issue that all presidential and other aspirant of political office must show they have an understanding of and credible solutions for before they should be taken as serious candidate.
As for the police it is crystal clear that the nation needs new force. The root of the present dilemma of the force can be traced to the time of inspector general Adewusi when approval was given for police men working the beat to be hand with guns instead of batons, biros and note books as it had always been and as still is in the united kingdom that gave birth to the world’s first police force. We now have, in Nigeria, generations of force men who do not have any practical knowledge of what it is to walk the beat.
It is not a wide thought that this weapons given to the police were for an exchange of hard currency from men of the under world.
How do we go about solving these problems? Should we not begin by disarming the police and retraining and re-orientating them? The question in the mouth of many Nigerians is that what can we do about the large cache of arms and ammunitions that corruption in the police force has allowed free passage into the country and to circulate so freely and so wide spread as to constitute a great danger to innocent lives and properties.