Everyone knows the Nigerian Police Force is corrupt. It is a truth in Nigeria, rooted so firmly in our subconscious through personal experience and universal anecdote which makes us immediately flinch when we see their distinctive uniforms. It is a rot that grows more pervasive and complex with each successive generation, worsened by the confluence of greed and desperation, entrenched in corruption. Each government has tried in their own way to at least slow the spread, if they cannot stop it, but they have all failed, for reasons no one can quite outline.
Under the leadership of IGP Tafa Balogun, the remuneration of the police was increased with enough provision of equipment for the force but the rot still remained in the force as Tafa Balogun himself was later dragged before the court for stealing billions of funds belonging to the Nigerian Police Force. Another tactic they tried was changing the colour of the police uniform, perhaps as a way to shed the image that had become associated with the former one. That failed too.
Under the leadership of the current Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, the force underwent a massive recruitment drive as the current ratio of one Police to eight hundred Nigerians is unacceptable. This was done earlier in the year but, it seems even that wasn’t enough to jumpstart a law enforcement revolution.
The corruption in the Nigerian Police Force is a trickle down rather than an isolated epidemic among the lowest ranking officers. Junior officers routinely put their lives at risk and physically harm others for a N20 bribe, because they are obligated to “deliver something” to their superior officers which range from DPO’s to Commissioners. It has also been reported that some police officers do pay their way through to be at checkpoints and special duties which they end up getting. This culture of corruption has hampered the growth of the force and has made the attainment of its vision and mission unrealistic.
At the moment, the Inspector-General of Police is embattled in corruption allegations and for allegedly enriching himself through the diversion of 120 Billion Naira Police funds which he has failed to account for but, rather chose to approach the court to stop his investigation.
How then can the Nigerian Police Force rid itself of corruption? A suggestion would be to de-incentivise positions of influence. If positions of influence meant more economic and social scrutiny and less leeway to enrich one’s self, more policemen would move away from trying to force their way into what others consider ‘lucrative’ posts. Regular auditing, unexpected Internal Affairs investigations on suspicious activity and swift punishment. There’s no guarantee these will eradicate the rot in the system, but it will certainly act as a needed jumpstart.