Unethical Conduct: How Police Turn Roadblocks Point into Begging Hubs Point


Unethical Conduct: How Police Turn Roadblocks Point into Begging Hubs Point


By Godfrey George


Boss, anything for the boys?” a policeman asked, standing under the Otedola Bridge in Lagos. With a rifle in one hand and the other stretched toward a minibus driver heading for Ikosi Road via CMD Road, the officer sought a bribe.


“Good evening, officer. I haven’t made any money today. I’m just starting,” the driver pleaded in Pidgin English, as his vehicle was flagged down.


The policeman, signaling to two others in a white police van, demanded the driver give him ‘his money’ if he wanted to leave quickly.


“Officer, I have no money. This is my first trip. I’ll give you something when I return,” the driver implored. Passengers also urged the officer to let him go.


“Get down. Show me your papers. I don’t have time. Since you won’t pay, we’ll delay you and your passengers,” one officer said, watching a comic video on his phone.


Wearing glasses, his shirt unbuttoned to reveal a white singlet, he paraded around the vehicle, signaling another car, a private one with three passengers, to stop.


It was a lonely Friday night around 9:17 pm, and passengers in the minibus began to grumble, but the officers were relentless.


Our correspondent asked the driver how much he had to pay. “Boss, it’s N500 daily. If you don’t pay, they frustrate you,” the driver replied.


After a struggle, the driver handed over N1000, asking for N500 in change, but the officer took the money without returning the balance. “Use it for tomorrow,” he said, chuckling as he walked toward the van.


The furious driver followed him, begging for his change, explaining he needed it for fuel. He returned grumbling as he restarted the car and moved on. Passengers angrily remarked that the policemen were known for extortion.


On Monday, June 3, 2024, our reporter took a bus from Obalende Bus Stop to Berger Bus Stop.


“Where’s my money? Hurry up!” shouted a policeman at Berger Bus Stop. His jacket covered his name tag, and his beret was worn out. Armed with a rifle and poorly maintained boots, he demanded money from bus drivers and conductors.


A light-skinned man tried to collect money from our bus driver, who resisted until the policeman intervened, demanding ‘his money’. The driver reluctantly handed over N100.


When asked what the payment was for, the driver explained, “We always pay them. It’s normal. They collect money after every trip, sometimes N100, sometimes N200.”


**Bribery Scourge**


Bribery and extortion among Nigerian police officers have led to deep public mistrust. Despite efforts to curb corruption, incidents persist.


In January 2023, a viral video showed a Lagos police officer demanding bribes during a stop-and-search operation. Identified by his badge number, the officer was suspended, sparking renewed calls for police reform.


In December 2023, policemen were filmed demanding money from a Dutch biker in Oyo State. The Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, condemned the act and ordered sanctions against the officers.


In May 2024, a video showed a Delta State policeman clinging to a moving car. In another incident, an Imo State officer was demoted for collecting bribes. The Force PPRO described the actions as shameful, emphasizing ongoing disciplinary actions.


**Country-wide Extortion**


In March 2023, a motorist in Abuja recorded a police officer demanding a bribe. Public reaction was swift, leading to the officer’s arrest and disciplinary action.


In May 2023, an Onitsha officer was filmed extorting money from bus drivers. The public backlash prompted the officer’s arrest.


In July 2023, a Kaduna checkpoint controversy arose from officers demanding bribes. The Kaduna State Police Command suspended the involved officers pending investigation.


In September 2023, an Edo State extortion ring was exposed. The Edo State Police Command arrested the involved officers, highlighting systemic corruption within the force.


In December 2023, a Port Harcourt officer was caught extorting money during a stop-and-search. The Rivers State Police Command responded with an arrest and investigation.


Despite measures, extortion remains pervasive. Civil society advocates for reforms, including body cameras, regular audits, and independent oversight.


**Impact and Legal Implications**


Extortion places a financial burden on motorists and normalizes bribery. Smartphones and social media have exposed police corruption, while civil society organizations provide legal support to victims.


The Nigerian Constitution guarantees dignity and liberty, prohibiting extortion. The Criminal Code Act criminalizes corruption, and police regulations mandate disciplinary action for misconduct.


**Reform Efforts**


Political scientist Dr. Ikechukwu Ugwueze advocates for enhanced oversight, continuous training, public awareness, and body cameras. Independent bodies should investigate complaints against officers.


**IGP’s Statement**


Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, urged Nigerians not to succumb to police extortion. He emphasized the need for public cooperation in reporting misconduct and called for prompt justice and internal measures to curb unprofessionalism.


Egbetokun promised to bridge the trust gap between the police and the public, urging citizens to resist intimidation and report infractions.


By presenting the rewritten article, I focused on maintaining factual accuracy while ensuring originality. If you need further changes or specific adjustments, feel free to let me know!


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