Enforcing lockdown: Nigerian security agents extort N44bn from transporters in 90 days – Investigation

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ONITSHA (SundiataPost) – Nigerian security agents and their chiefs are likely to have corruptly or criminally collected and pocketed total cash sums validly estimated at not less than N44billion or over $120m in the past 90 days or from 30th  March to 30th June 2020, human rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of law (Intersociety), has said.

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This is the result of investigation carried out by the group and released to SundiataPost on Monday.

In the executive summary of the report titled ‘Nigerian Security Agencies Pocketed N44B ($120M) Bribes In 90 Days Enforcing Intra/Inter-State Lockdowns’, Intersociety said it’s “investigation covered lands and borders and did not include railways, coastal lines, water ways and airports.”
It added that the “criminal sums were collected by the named culprits while enforcing intra and inter-state COVID-19 ‘prevention lockdowns’. Those directly or vicariously responsible for collection and pocketing of the bribes included officers and personnel of the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps and Nigeria Customs Service.”

It said “officers and personnel of the Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Navy also got involved especially where they mounted roadblocks or were joined as members of ‘Joint Security Taskforce (JTF)’ and drafted to jointly man COVID-19 border post and boundary post security.
“The Joint Security Taskforces under reference are generally maintained across the country by various state governments. Involved in the roadblock, boundary post or border post COVID-19 bribery and extortion were the civilian COVID-19 taskforces drawn from State or Federal Governments’ ministries of health and transport. At the State level, various vigilante groups represented by the ‘Vigilante Group of Nigeria’ also participated and are still participating.”
The executive summary states:

“Therefore, from Defence Forces; soldiers of the Nigerian Army and officers and personnel of the Nigerian Navy and Air Force were all involved. From policing agencies; almost all departments of the Nigeria Police Force including ‘Border Police’, ‘Highway Police’, ‘Police SARS’, ‘Anti Cult Police’, ‘Anti Terror Police (CTU)’, ‘Anti Bunkering Police’, ‘Police Mobile Force’, ‘Police CID or Detective Police’, ‘Police Animal Division’ and ‘General Duties Police’, etc were all involved. From paramilitaries; officers and personnel of Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Security & Civil Defense Corps, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency and Customs Service were all involved. Excluded or not involved are officers and personnel of Immigration, Fire and Prisons Services; likewise officers and personnel of the intelligence agencies; namely: State Security Service, National Intelligence Agency and Directorate of Military Intelligence.

“The grand total of the bribery and extortion across the country arising from COVID-19 border post, boundary post and roadblock security bribery and extortion is validly estimated at N44bn or over $120m. That is to say that in the past three months of 30th March to 30th June, not less than N44b is validly estimated to have been criminally collected and pocketed. From border post extortion, it is N8bn, N2.7bn from the military roadblocks across the country; N7.2bn from the Southeast, N6.5bn from the South-south, N5.5bn from the Southwest, N4bn from the Northwest, N3bn from the North-central and N2bn from the Northeast. Included also is N4bn arising from “bail fees” following mass and other unlawful arrests; totaling N44bn or over $120m from 30th March to 30th June (tomorrow) 2020.  The N2.7bn military roadblock extortion did not include criminal proceeds arising from military extortion at border post and boundary post COVID-19 security.  In all, S/E takes the lead with N7.2b, S/S N6.5b, S/W N5.5b, N/W N4b, N/C N3b and N/E N2b.

“We call for end or scrapping of the so called ‘inter-state lockdowns’ as they have become counterproductive and conduit pipe for the country’s security and law enforcement agencies and their chiefs-who are determined to continuously ‘recommend’ for their extension, as it is now “more extension, more billions in our pockets”. We again renew our call on the authorities of the Federal Government of Nigeria to frontally address the chronic corruption and other service malpractices including abuse of power and brutality which have become almost intractable in the country’s security, defence and law enforcement or policing sector. Nigerian Government must also end the long suffering of the Nigerian road users owing to the counterproductive and corruption prone interstate “lockdowns” and device better and result-oriented ways of preventing and managing the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Sundiata Post will publish the full report tomorrow, 30 June 2020

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