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The Nigerian Police And Poverty: A Personal Encounter – El-Kator

From observing Police officers in all parts of the country randomly stopping road users for the singular purpose of extortion I prayed never to have any dealings with any uniformed officer. If that prayer was answered, the answer expired last year. There was a theft towards the end of the year and I had to make a report at the police station. Long story short, I had to make the report in a container, which was the “office” of, at least, 4 policemen.  There were two chairs — actually, one; the other was a chair surface and two benches: one on either side with two tables between.

The container office was overcrowded every now and then: It was not strange to see people who had come to report a case seating beside suspects being slapped and hit with a thick wooden baton, and just opposite, another person being interrogated, all happening at the same time.

The policeman assigned to my case told me that I would need to provide money for his “mobility” to investigate the theft. Well, after consulting with people, I told him to forget the mobility money as there would be no guarantee if the money would be used for that purpose or not. Then I told him to give me an Extract (an official summary of a reported case by the police). The policeman said the Extract would cost me N2,000. I gave him the money and asked for a receipt. The man, in mock bravado, gave the money back to me and said when I’m ready to collect the extract I should come back.

Days later, I went back and asked for the Extract. He called his fellow officers, who were outside the container, and narrated our N2000 ordeal. They all laughed, making fun of my requesting receipt of payment. Then another officer took me to the side and pleaded with me explaining the “extract” money. He told me to look around, saying that they were starved of funds and pleadingly said that the money for extract is basically what they use to run the office. He said, there is no fixed sum for extract, but it’s just money used to pay for stationery, purchase files et al. I gave him the N2000. He thanked me and said to come tomorrow for the Extract. The next day the extract was ready. After collecting it, the Policeman asked me to please help him make a photocopy as there was no photocopier. Do you really want to read more?

El – Kator Abaagu

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