Jude Johnson  The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has accused Nigerian security and law enforcement agencies of pocketing as much as N100 billion in roadside bribery and extortion in the South-eastern part of the country alone over the last three years. Intersociety in its latest investigative report released on…

The post How Nigerian security agencies extorted N100bn from Southeast in three years–Report appeared first on Global Sentinel.

Jude Johnson 

The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has accused Nigerian security and law enforcement agencies of pocketing as much as N100 billion in roadside bribery and extortion in the South-eastern part of the country alone over the last three years.

Intersociety in its latest investigative report released on December 25, 2018 with findings from August 2015 wastitled: Welcome to Southeast Region: Nigeria’s Headquarters of Official Highway Robbery; was conducted in all the South-east states and some parts of Delta State with predominantly residents of Igbo origin. 

The rights group accompanied the report with pictures that seemed to show officers receiving bribes at checkpoints.

A breakdown of the questionable operation showed that Nigeria Police Force pocketed N78.02 billion, the military (Army, Navy and Air Force) received N6 billion and paramilitary formations (Customs, Road Safety, NAFDAC and NDLEA) took N16 billion. These totalled N100.02 billion ($330 million).

The report reinforces fears that the controversial culture has worsened despite decades of condemnation even amongst top security chiefs. Successive police leadership over the last two decades have ordered the removal of checkpoints, but compliance is hardly enforced and hardly are errant officers punished.

According to Board Chair of Intersociety, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, the report was released to coincide with this year’s Yuletide, during which bribery and extortion by security agencies are said to be at their peak as millions embark on holiday trips to the Southeast.

“We hope this would help those travelling home to celebrate Christmas be aware of the tactics of security agencies, and the disastrous economic impact on the region,” Umeagbalasi said.

But the Nigerian Army and the Federal Road Safety Corps immediately dismissed the report, insisting that their respective personnel operate with strict ethical standards and those identified for misconduct are usually promptly disciplined.

Levy categorization 

Intersociety found that the security agencies have designed specific levies for different categories of motorists across the South-east, and enforcement sometimes turns deadly.

“For every shuttle or Mitsubishi L300 bus loaded with passengers (only) in Anambra State, it is N50 at every police roadblock, and extra N200 is paid if loaded with goods and passengers,” the report said.

“For every commercial motorcycle or tricycle or Datsun or medium range truck loaded with goods, it is N200 at every police roadblock, and for every private vehicle owner accused of “incomplete” vehicle particulars, the least demanded sum is N4,000 or more, which must be paid randomly or on the spot to avoid being dragged to police station and have his or her vehicle impounded and indented as ‘stolen vehicle’,” the report said.

Some motorists are detained and bailed with illegal bail fees, ranging from N10,000 and above, the report found.

The questionable conduct, which has continued despite decades of condemnation even amongst top security chiefs, also differs from state to state in the region.

“Police extortions in Enugu and Ebonyi States, and to an extent, Imo State, are not as “lucrative” as those of Anambra and Abia States,” it said.

“Such extortions are majorly concentrated on critical federal and state roads as well as few commercial areas of the three states, such as Ogbete, Abakpa, and Nsukka in Enugu State; Abakiliki and Afikpo in Ebonyi State, Orlu and commercial parts of Owerri in Imo State.

“The same non-uniformity applies to many roadblocks in the five Southeast states, as well as those in Agbor, Asaba and their environs, all in Delta State,” which has estimated 40 per cent Igbo population, the report found.

Breakdown on roadblocks, extortions

According to the report, there were 250 police roadblocks in Anambra State between August 2015 and August 2016, and each made an estimated N40,000 per day. The 250 police roadblocks on Anambra roads between August 2015 and August 2016 illicitly collected N10 million per day, which translated to N300 million per month and N3.6 billion per year.

According to the report, at N40,000 per day, the 200 police roadblocks in Abia State during the period unlawfully milked the people of the South-east a total of N8 million per day, N240m per month and N2, 88 billion per year.

Also, at N30,000 per day for each of the 150 police roadblocks then in Imo State, a total of N4.5 million was reportedly realised per day, N135 million per month and N1, 62 billion per year.

Also with N25,000 per day for each of 100 police roadblocks in Enugu in the same period, N2.5 million was unlawfully collected per day, N75 million per month and N900 million per year, the report stated/

In Ebonyi, there were 50 police roadblocks, and each earned an average of N25,000 per day, totalling N1.25 million or N37.5 million per month and N450 million per year.

Between August 2016 and August 2017, at N40,000 per day, the 500 police roadblocks on Anambra roads collected N20 million per day, N600 million per month and N7, 2 billion per year.

At N40,000 per day, the 400 police roadblocks in Abia State received N16 million per day, N480 million per month and N5.76 billion per year.

With N30,000 per day for each of the 200 police roadblocks then in Imo State, a total of N6 billion was earned per day, N180 million per month and N2.16 billion per year.

Also with N25,000 per day for each of 200 police roadblocks in Enugu in the same period, N5 million was unlawfully collected per day, N150 million per month and N1.8 billion per year.

The 150 police roadblocks in Ebonyi State allegedly made N25,000 per day, totalling N3.75 million per day, N112.5 million per month and N1.35 billion per year.

Between August 2017 and December 2018, at N40,000 per day, the 800 police roadblocks on Anambra roads must have by the end of December 2018 collected N32 million per day, N960 million per month and N15.36 billion in sixteen months.

At N40,000 per day, the 700 police roadblocks in Abia State must have by the end of December 2018 unlawfully earned N28 million per day, N840 million per month and N13.44b in sixteen months.

In the same period, the 500 police roadblocks in Imo State earned N30,000 per day each, totalling N15 million per day, N450 million per month and N7.2 billion in sixteen months.

At N25, 000 per day for each of 400 police roadblocks in Enugu in the named period, N10 million must have been unlawfully collected per day, N300 million per month and N4.8 billion in sixteen months.

Finally, at N25, 000 for each of the 400 police roadblocks in Ebonyi State, a total of N10 million was illegally collected per day, N300 million per month and N4.8b in sixteen months.

Intersociety estimated 3,000 police roadblocks, including about 200 in different Igbo parts of Delta State (from Agbor to Asaba) as well as those manned by “police-stop-and-move” teams using Hilux or other pick-up vans usually manned by police special anti-robbery squad.

At an average of N20,000 per “police-stop-and-move” roadblock since August 2015, N4 million was realised per day, N120 million per month and N4.8 billion in 40 months, August 2015 to December 2018.

Security agencies pocketed  N22 billion

Intersociety, which was established in 2008 as a non-governmental organisation based in Onitsha, also found that military personnel deployed in the region earned N6 billion since 2015, while officers of the Nigerian Customs Service, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the National Drugs Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and others grossed N16 billion in illicit income.

Although the Nigerian Air Force was also mentioned as having been a part of the suspected extortion, its collection was negligent. Umeagbalasi clarified that the institution was added because Air Force personnel often collect bribes near their bases around the region, but whatever they received was deemed inconsequential largely due to the limited bases in the region.

The bulk of the N6 billion bribes allegedly went to soldiers, who could be seen in dozens of roadblocks across Southeast.

White-collar, blue-collar

The report further found that some patterns of police roadblock extortion in the South-east bear blue-collar outlook. This involves direct extortion using stationed police personnel. In this case, vehicles bearing goods with passengers are made to “pay” double (i.e., for loaded wares and persons). For instance, each load-carrying L300 bus with passengers is forced to part with at least N250 at each police roadblock.

In the case of drafted soldiers and other military personnel, as well as paramilitary bodies like Road Safety, patterns of their extortion are different; bearing white-collar outlook. This could be categorised as indirect extortion using hired third party or civilian touts or points-men, the report found.

Report sweeping, exaggerated–Security Agencies 

The police and Customs did not immediately respond but the Nigerian Army and Road Safety strongly denied allegations of fraud amongst their personnel.

“It is a sweeping statement, they need to be specific,” FRSC spokesperson Bisi Kazeem said, but added nonetheless that the agency “does not condone corruption or corrupt tendencies.”

“Bribery is not institutionalised in the corps. Whoever is caught is dealt with by dismissal after trial by FRSC disciplinary committee,” the spokesperson said.

“We have monitoring and surveillance team from unit level to sector level to zonal level ending at the headquarters,” he said. “FRSC officers and men have name tags, the vehicle has body codes and registration numbers.”

Sani Usman, a spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, also absolved military personnel from all acts of bribery, and slammed Intersociety as propagating falsehood.

“It is not true. The Nigerian Army is very professional and has clearly established rules of engagement and code of conduct,” Mr Usman, a brigadier-general, said. “Therefore, it cannot be associated with such tissue of lies.”

A worsening menace

The culture of checkpoint corruption has been a recurring feature amongst Nigerian security and law enforcement agencies, even as their respective leaderships continue to speak stridently against the practice with threats of harsh consequences.

The first Intersociety report into the conduct of officers on the road was first published in 2011. Even though the South-east weighed heavily in the report, its elements were gathered across the country at the time, and the final outcome revealed that the controversial practice was milder at the time.

 The naira note benchmark used as ‘toll fee’ then was N20 denomination as against today’s N50 and N100 notes. The group found that between 2009 and 2011, police officers earned N53.4 billion in three years from 3,500 roadblocks across the country at the time. The South-east accounted for the lion’s share of N32.2 billion, followed by Southwest and South-south with N8.2 billion each.

Motorists in the North-Central coughed out N2.1 billion in bribes to the police. North-east and North-west were N1.2 billion each at the time. That nationwide investigation was built on the report of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) published on August 17, 2010, which looked at corruption and abuses in the police.

The HRW’s report, titled: Everyone is in on the Game: Corruption & Human Rights Abuses by the Nigeria Police Force,’ combined with further findings by Intersociety prompted Mohammed Abubakar, then police inspector-general, to order the urgent dismantling of all roadblocks. But that directive, like several before and after it, saw compliance for only a few days before fizzling out. Credits | Premium Times 

Read the full statement in: 

Official Highway Robbery Report: Military & Police Personnel Abandoned Their Roadblocks In Southeast Nigeria—Intersociety

(Chima Ubani Center: Onitsha Nigeria, 25th December 2018)-Following the release yesterday, Monday, 24th December 2018 of Intersociety’s sub-report: Welcome to Southeast Region-Nigeria’s Headquarters of Official Highway Robbery, the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Military particularly those mounted or stationed at police and military roadblocks in the Region have taken a flight and temporarily dismantled most of their roadblocks.

These happened hours after the release of the sub-report and its reportorial publication and sharing by several online media and social media platforms. Intersociety had in the sub-report, catalogued the number, details, patterns and trends of police, military and paramilitary roadblocks on Southeast Roads and others linking the Region with the rest of the country.

Among friendly media houses that published the sub-report yesterday is the Premium Times Online which also reached out to the authorities of the Nigerian Army, NPF, FRSC, etc for reaction. Other friendly media that followed up or ran the sub-report yesterday are the Nigerian Voice, the News Express, the Elombah Reports, the Chidiopara Reports and the Odogwu Reports, to mention but few. The sub-report also went viral on social media and was widely shared and read with its attached graphically described photos.

The sub-report had found that Southeast Region is besieged and harmfully affected by 3000 police roadblocks mounted by no fewer than 15,000 police personnel, 100 military roadblocks mounted by no fewer than 1000 military personnel, 20 roadblocks mounted by personnel of the Nigerian Custom Service and others in their hundreds or thousands mounted by personnel of the Federal Road Safety Corps, NSCDC, etc.

Intersociety also found that whopping N100.02b was raked in or criminally pocketed from such roadblocks in the past 40 months or between August 2015 and December 2018; involving police-N78b, Military-N6b, Custom Service-N11.52b and FRSC, NDLEA, NAFDAC and NSCDC-N4.5b, totaling N100.02b. The criminal sums were generated and pocketed from roadblock bribery and other securitization corruption practices. The sub-report was attached with 16 evidential photos and two video clips.

But, yesterday, hours after the release and publication of the sub-region, most of the military and police personnel at the roadblocks took a flight and temporarily dismantled physical structures mounted at the middle of major Federal and inter State Roads across the Southeast. Those with checkpoint kiosks erected by the roadsides retired off the roads while the personnel of the FRSC pretentiously reverted to clearing and decongestion of the roads. In spite of all these, some chronically corrupt police personnel especially those stationed in intra and intercity roads/streets were still busy collecting bribes from commercial motorists and other use roads.

Apart from several joyous calls put across to a number of friendly media houses including the Premium Times and the Nigerian Voice by some concerned Nigerians including those living around Enugu-Kogi boundary, Intersociety also received barrage of text messages, mails and calls from concerned others expressing happiness and giving updates on hurried abandonment or temporary dismantling of police and military roadblocks in their areas.

One of the earliest text messages received yesterday at 3:10pm from an Aba Comrade read thus: “My brother, there is serious brouhaha between Aba and Port Harcourt Road based on the report and the pictures following it. Aba (police and military in Aba) is busy dismantling their checkpoints (roadblocks). I have just arrived Port Harcourt and all the military and police checkpoints (roadblocks) on the Road are gone. Wow!!”

The Aba Comrade later called in the evening and gave more details of what fully transpired. This morning, 25th December 2018, we got another call from another Aba Comrade, saying he just returned from a trip to Ogoja in Cross River State and that while the military roadblocks along Cross River end of the Ogoja-Abakiliki Road remained, most of the police roadblocks and a number of others manned military personnel, between Cross River State and Ebonyi State boundary and from Ebonyi State to Abia State have temporarily given way.

In Anambra State, an Onitsha based businessman who is in the know of the sub-report called Intersociety this morning to report the dismantling of most of the police roadblocks especially between Onitsha and Oji River in Enugu State. The businessman who was traveling to his hometown in Enugu State for Xmas also reported that the Amansea Army roadblock in Awka has given way and that they did not encounter any single police roadblock on the road. The Amansea Army Roadblock, located along Onitsha-Awka-Enugu Old Road, is notorious for causing road hardship and terrible traffic jams stretching up to two kilometers long.

While these reports sound encouraging and are deeply appreciated by Intersocietybut they are likely to be a fire brigade approach or a sort of damage control resorted to be the accused security authorities following the sub-report and the public outcries so generated. In as much as the reports have expressly vindicated Intersociety and its sub-report, but they practically translate to a call for more action. Evil, they say, triumphs and thrive because people of good conscience refused to say or do the opposite!

Therefore, it is not yet uhuru or time for celebration. Possibility of repeat offense or returned criminality in the instant case is still very predictably high. Those who think that AK-47 rifle and its wielding is the mightiest must be tutored to know that mental thoughts or ideas are the mightiest, not gun-culture or threats of same. The People of the Southeast must therefore remain extremely vigilant and join hands in liberating the Region from the shackles and manacles of the uniform brigands masquerading as “officers and personnel of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Police in Southeast Nigeria”.

Citizens should make maximum use of their ICT appliances and brains in the instant case. These must be fully deployed and applied in this Xmas and New Year holiday and beyond to checkmate all forms of military, police and paramilitary roadblock and checkpoint extortions and abuses. Credible finding so generated can be sent to any notable rights group or Intersociety via info@intersociety-ng.org for further or follow-up steps.

Signed

For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-INTERSOCIETY

Emeka Umeagbalasi and Obianuju  Igboeli, Esq.

Contacts:

Mobile Line: +2348174090052

Email: info@intersociety-ng.org

Website: www.intersociety-ng.org

The post How Nigerian security agencies extorted N100bn from Southeast in three years–Report appeared first on Global Sentinel.

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