Opinion: Institutional corruption within the Nigerian Police Force

by Gbolahan Adeyemi

 

On the 19th of August 2017, the Nigerian Police Force Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr Moshood Jimoh was on Channels television (Sunrise programme) dispelling the notion that corruption within the Police Force is not institutional while reacting to the National Corruption Report (by the National Bureau of Statistics). Mr Jimoh said “there are one or two instances where probably Police officers may have been found wanting in this regard”, that is, in corruption related incidence. Mr Jimoh’s view has no empirical foundation in comparison to a validated report which labelled the Nigerian Police Force as a corrupt institution. In fact, I need no empirical study to label the Nigerian Police Force as a corrupt institution. From a sample of every ten (10) Policemen, six (6) are corrupt and I do not need any empirical study to validate that. As a result of these indicators – empirical, public perception and personal experience, I disagree with Mr Jimoh that corruption within the Police Force is not institutional.

The Police usually claim that corruption cases are often not reported. Let us pretend to accept this as a fact.  However, for the few cases reported, there is no data or information whatsoever within the public domain that reassures the Nigerian public that the Police is on top of his game in disciplining culpable officers smearing its organisation’s reputation. This information is vital in breeding public confidence that the Police is working for them. Basically, before I report an officer who demanded a bride from me, if there is evidence that justice has been obtained by other victims, then I’ll be persuaded and obliged to report such a case. The Police need to be more adept in their data and information gathering as well as reporting within the traditional and social media space. This is not even enough, the community and market women should know that the Police institution is working for them through data and information, there are Market association and community meetings amongst other channels that the Police can use to reach their audience. This is the 21st century and the Police need to wake up to the way the game is played. The strategy and effort of the Force to change the public perception will not yield any result if the organisation continues to dwell within its primitive thinking and continuously dismiss evidential report because the organisation was not painted in gold.

The kind of information and data that should be out there are:

  • How many cases were reported within a defined period
  • The demographics of the abused (always protect the victim)
  • The timeline within which reported cases were dealt with (responsiveness)
  • The number of officers involved within a case (and over a period of time)
  • The disciplinary actions taken against culpable officers
  • The penalty paid out to victims or valuable seized and returned
  • Context in which corruption occurred (to highlight patterns and precedence for tracking)

On the other hand, while the Police work to build public confidence and prove they are taking actions to redeem their image, they need to put in place a strong internal communication matrix within the Force network of commands to communicate disciplinary proceedings and outcome of reported cases to all officers. This is to serve as a deterrent to other Police officers contemplating engaging in corruption. As of now, most officers are not getting the message.

According to a foremost psychologist, B.F. Skinner, he posited the idea that behaviour is determined by its consequences, either reinforcements or punishments, which make it likely that the behaviour will occur again. As it stands, even though the Police is probably working, (because this remains to be validated) the notion and stories out there is that the command’s attitude is reinforcing corruption. But if the Force headquarters circulate within all its units the punishment and action it took on reported cases of corruption this will serve as a deterrent and will make most Police officers to respect themselves and not disgrace the Police Force. Let me put this in better perspective in comparison to the Police brothers in arms, that is, the Military. It is public knowledge that the Military abuses civilians wearing camouflage apparels. Even though the military has expressed and released statements which frown at civilian’s attack, such abuse of power is still prevalent. It is obvious the institution has not categorically acted, reported and communicated within its organisation that such behaviour is NOT acceptable. It is this simple, the Military authority gives a direct order within training schools and which is continuously reiterated throughout service years that “NEVER ATTACK CIVILIANS IN CAMOUFLAGE OR FOR ANY OTHER REASON”. If there is a precedence for disciplining and reporting of culpable officers then this action will not be repeated or will be reduced significantly (It is as simple as ABC).

Until the Police Force decides to take the bull by the horn and arrest institutional corruption within their ranks, Mr Jimoh should not go on National T.V and state that corruption within the Police is not institutional. You need to strengthen your organisation and take on board recommendations from stakeholders. However, combating corruption is not limited to what is suggested in this write up, it should be holistic and systematic (you definitely need to talk about a competitive compensation package and reward system as well as enabling work environment amongst other things).

Oh, one last thing, maybe when the when the Inspector General of Police stops travelling around states of the Federation in thirty (30) convoy of luxurious SUV’s and trucks ( I saw his convoy when he visited Lagos state on the 3/08/2017) with different Police formations as if he owns the Nation, the Police will have money to invest and strengthen the organisation instead of draining the hard working Nigerian taxpayers resources irresponsibly – Does the Police have any idea how much fuel and manpower was utilised for just one man who is a public official? What security risk warrants such protocol within Lagos metropolis?

I love the Police and I will like to encourage them to be better, do their best and change the public perception of the organisation but the change begins with the Police Authority – study the facts of the National Corruption Report and act on it.


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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