Millions of Nigerians struggling to make a living are accosted on a daily basis by plain-clothed policemen who are often times on plainclothes, most especially those situated at the Igando police division who collect bribes, harass citizens, and also force innocent citizens to transfer money from their mobile banking APPs before they could release them on the spot.
My friend Abdul-Azeez Soneye and I were harassed and extorted by some officers of the Igando police division on our way to an event.
We were asked to introduce ourselves and we complied, then one of the officers requested to search my phone but i inquired that he identifies himself because he was on mufti, and he said he is a police officer.
I then requested for his identity card, but he refused to provide it, while this was ongoing some police officers came over to intimidate and harass us.
When we told the officers that our mobile phones are our private property and they have no right to search it, the corrupt officers replied in Pidgin English: “Shebi una sabi law abi? By the time we are done with you, you will go and be quoting those laws inside kirikiri prisons. I promise you both that no member of your family will know your where-about.”
What a lawless country.
We were bundled into their bus and taken to the Igando police station, at the station we inquired to call our lawyers but they denied us the right to call our lawyer or anyone at all, my phone was forcefully taken from me and all calls coming through were ignored, I had no other choice but to unlock my phone under duress.
Their threat to send us to prison without anyone knowing it made us play along, but they found nothing incriminating on my phone despite checking every document in my file manager and checking my private and business chats.
The Nigeria Police Force, established in 1930, has a long history of engaging in unprofessional, corrupt, and criminal conduct.
Over the years, this unwieldy force—Africa’s largest—has proved difficult to effectively manage and control and has become largely unaccountable to the citizens it is meant to serve.
For many Nigerians the police force has utterly failed to fulfill its mandate of providing public security.
Indeed, 89 years after its birth, members of the force are viewed more as predators than protectors, and the Nigeria Police Force has become a symbol of unfettered corruption and abuse in Nigeria.