It is now more than two weeks since the release of the report on a detailed survey by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the European Union on the quality and integrity of public services in Nigeria and the impact of corruption on daily life in Nigeria that shows that the Nigerian police is the most corrupt public institution in Nigeria followed closely by judges, prosecutors and the Customs. Since the publication of the results of the survey, there has been absolutely no comment from the Nigerian government – a government that is supposedly determined to fight and wipe out corruption from Nigeria.
As if that was not enough, another angle to police corruption was unearthed by the altercation between Senator Hamman Misau and the Nigerian police. Senator Misau, representing Bauchi Central Senatorial district and a retired Deputy Superintendent of police, accused the Inspector General of Police of wanton corruption and bribe-taking in discharging his duties. According to Senator Misau, the IGP pockets over N120 billion annually from payment for special security services rendered by the police to corporate organisations and very important personalities. Hear him: “The IGP, on good authority from within the force, collects over N10billion on monthly basis as money for special security provided by men of the Force to corporate bodies and highly placed individuals, including criminals, running to N120billion on yearly basis without any reflection in Police annual budgets or internally generated revenue.” Sadly, according to Misau, the over 50, 000 police personnel deployed to perform such duties don’t benefit from the money. The organisations and individuals requiring their services have to settle them separately.
Sadly, since the second allegation was made, the police had sought to deflect attention by turning the focus on Senator Misau, accusing him of being a deserter who did not validly resign from the force before entering partisan politics and threatening to deal with him. The police and the police service commission (whose Chairman Senator Misau also accused of corruption) have set up panels to investigate Senator Misau and determine whether he actually resigned from the force or not.
The charade must stop. An accused party cannot investigate its accuser.
The President, Muhammadu Buhari, must immediately set up a panel to investigate allegations of corruption against the police high command. That is the public interest angle to the whole saga. It is only after that is done that the police and the police is found innocent that it can have the moral right to investigate Senator Misau. Besides, the issue at hand is not the retirement of Misau but the wanton corruption in the police.
There is no government interested in law and order and a corrupt-free society that will keep mum in the face of these weighty allegations and results of a survey carried out in conjunction with a federal government agency. It is either the government is complicit or it has long control of its agencies and can’t act to discipline its personnel.
Besides, we should be alarmed that the most critical institutions and personnel in the dispensation of justice – police officers, judges and prosecutors – are said to be the most corrupt officials in Nigeria. If this is true, it means the Nigerian state is simply a criminal enterprise where the rich and wealthy bend the law to their favour. It also means ordinary citizens cannot rely on the police to maintain law and order in the country and cannot rely on them to arrest and prosecute criminals and secure peace-loving Nigerians. Just like the lie they hang on the wall of every police station stating that “bail is free”, available evidence show that the police is a thoroughly corrupt institution that will commoditise security, law and order and sell them to the rich.
If the government wishes to be taken seriously on its anti-corruption war, then it must order a thorough probe of the police and the Inspector General. Failure to do that, the government may as well kiss its anti-corruption war goodbye.