SERAP’s corruption toga on Nigeria Police and the question of hasty generalization {Editorial)

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By CrimeWorld Editorial Board

THE recent survey by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project SERAP which tended to cloak officers and men of the Nigeria Police and by extension, the Police institution in a condensed can of corruption needs a re-evaluation.  SERAP is an esteemed national survey body which bequeaths upon itself the responsibility of appraising the action and inaction of public institutions including the Police, the judiciary and such other sectors; and has in no small measures over the years, galvanized and injected the spirit of national interest into institutions hitherto in dearth of integrity. Corollary, any survey report by SERAP is usually viewed critically.  In a recent survey, SERAP seemed to have again, tongue-lashed the Police as usual and portrayed it as the most corrupt institution in the country where 54 per cent interface with officers and men of the force is not without bribe. Whereas, this may not be totally incorrect, it is however, uncharitable to lump the entire members of the institution together and label them corrupt; without recourse to the psychology of policing. For every action there is a reaction. We therefore, frown at such arqumentum ad baculum.

By its creation, the Nigeria Police is the only institution charged with the responsibility of securing lives and property, whether at peace or war times. It is the closest to the citizenry; its actions therefore, directly reflect the society that made it. Other para-military organizations like the Fire Service, Customs Services, Prisons, Immigration and EFCC are all offshoots of the Nigeria Police but curiously do not make headlines on SERAP’s corruption index like we constantly have with our Police institution. Their personnel were trained by the same “corrupt Police institution.”  It is common knowledge that the Nigeria Police is the most underfunded yet highly submissive lackey. They are integral aspect of every human endeavours but the most chastised by the same authority. Before condemning our Police institution into the cesspit of corruption, it is imperative to view it from an unbiased prism and juxtapose it with the same Police institutions in saner climes like the USA and UK. In the two countries, members of the Police institution are highly remunerated and revered in the society. Operatives are insured against misadventure on the job and in event of death, family members are well catered to by the affected government. This is wide off the mark with the Nigeria Police where the average Policeman procures his tools and uniforms with his meager income. At the local stations, Investigating Police Officers IPOs buy their writing materials while the Divisional Police Officers DPOs run stations from their lean purses and or goodwill from good spirited members of the society. Thousands of personnel pay the supreme price yearly in line duty and their family forced out of the Barracks and abandoned by the government. There is little or no prize for gallantry and dedication to duty! In the midst of daily spite, degradation and neglect Police officers suffer; a few resolutely dogged personnel have excelled on their beat to the envy of the world. They have also showed high level of integrity by rejecting mouthwatering bribes running into several hundreds of millions of naira and went ahead to prosecute the suspects.

*Part of the rejected monies…

Officers like retired Commissioner of Police CP Dan Okoro, ACP Olasoji Olasunkanmi Akinbayo who presently serves as Area Commander, ‘Area F’ Command Headquarters Ikeja, Commander IGP IRT, DCP Abba Kyari and many more silent heroes are men of honour in the Police institution who did not only excelled in leaps and bound in their routine assignments but have continued to display exceptional uprightness in dealing with questionable characters in our midst. Whereas, Okoro got global accolade and Presidential commendations for shunning bribery while serving at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Ikeja sometime in March 1997 and arrested the Sierra-Leone leader of the Revolutionary United Front RUF, Foday Sankoh who sneaked into the country with lots of money, cracking the clueless and gruesome murder of a retired Army General’s daughter, Cynthia Oahokgu in 2015, investigating and recovering of  about N111million from 23 INEC officials in Rivers State indicted for fraudulent practices during the year’s general elections, ACP Akinbayo earned the IGP commendation and special promotion for rejecting N26million bride from pipeline vandals and illegal bunkerers. He didn’t stop at that, he went ahead to prosecute the suspects using the monies which were both in local and hard currencies as exhibits. He also rejected N5 million bribe in June 2019 from an unnamed owner of 34 feet container laden with fake drugs somewhere along Oshodi/Apapa expressway while serving as the Area Commander, ‘Area D’ Mushin. He impounded the container, arrested both the Police escort, the driver and his motor boy and handed them over to NAFDAC for prosecution. This is among several unreported breathtaking breakthroughs he recorded. DCP Abba Kyari also got Presidential recognition and commendations from three IGPs and eventual special promotion for dedication to duty especially, in cracking high profile crimes and criminality. He has remained thorn and thistle on the flesh of kidnappers and armed robbers. The celebrated arrest of billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudimeme Onuamadike alias Evans is a case amongst several others cases he cracked. He has to his kitty, flurry of awards national and internationally for gallantry and dedication. All these are rare feats deserving SERAP’s attention.

*Members of the Nigeria Police on parade…

At international assignments, members of the Nigeria Police have constantly earned the laurel of primus inter pares. This lay credence to the environment and the motivation to serve. Recently at a security function in Lagos, President Muhammadu Buhari referred to the Nigeria Police as the best in Africa who operate in a rather harsh climate but churning in maximum output. Rather than constantly whip the entire Police institution for inadvertent wrongs, we urge SERAP to always do a holistic appraisal of the individual Policeman’s activities vis-avis the institution and the society that created them before hastily being reproachful. Anything short of this, is no less a disservice.

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