Killing For N20 At Checkpoints



Barely three days after the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, warned his men to desist from collecting bribe on our roads, one of his men did not only defy his boss’ order but had to kill a bus driver who failed to give him N20 bribe.

This incident which happened in Onitsha, the commercial hub of Southeast Nigeria, sparked a violent protest which many thought was a reprisal attack on northerners by Igbos over the Boko Haram killing of their kith and kin in the North.

Police Corporal Samuel Ojana attached to the Police Mobile Force, PMF, 52, Onitsha stretched his luck too far when he pulled the trigger last Thursday that resulted in the death of Edwin Eze, a commuter bus driver in Onitsha. He could not get away with this dastardly act.

The cop who has now been dismissed and has to be tried for murder, may have indulged in bribe collection all along and felt it was his right to force motorists at gun point to give him bribe or pay dearly with their lives as hapless Eze did last Thursday.

The likes of Ojana abound in the police force. In fact, they constitute a large number in the force. They can kill or label a motorist a robber if the motorist fails to give them as little as N20 at checkpoints. That is how cheap and ruthless the police have become.

Another case in point was when another police corporal, Nelson Bassey, who went for an illegal operation in Lagos, shot two friends and labelled them armed robbers. The victims, Andrew Okoh and Isaac Adesina, were lucky as they survived the gunshot wounds.

What also saved them was because they were identified as innocent people by their neighbours because the incident happened close to their home.

Though Nelson has been dismissed, justice must take its course. The matter must not be swept under the carpet.

Recently, a police inspector attached to Alakuko Police Station identified as Martins Olatilewa shot Godspower Philip Odiete, an engineer at a checkpoint in Lagos for refusing to give him bribe.

Another policeman, on Sunday 12 February 2012, shot dead a passenger in a commuter bus close to Ojo Military Cantonment, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

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The passenger, who was returning from church, was killed because the conductor of the bus failed to give bribe to the policeman who insisted he must collect the money.

Nigerians want to see these trigger-happy cops punished for the reckless use of their weapons against innocent citizens.

Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers should be held to account for the indiscriminate use of weapons and ammunition collected by men under their commands. It is because these weapons are not accounted for that they are used recklessly, often against the people, and also hired to robbers in return for cash.

Cases of shooting law-abiding citizens have become too rampant among policemen.

At the root of the shootings is the cops’ barefaced quest to collect bribes from motorists at all costs. Interestingly, the Inspector-General knows this is one of the maladies afflicting his officers and men.

While upbraiding them last Monday in Abuja, Abubakar also frowned seriously against his men’s shameless penchant for collecting bribes on the roads. He rubbed it in when he said: “look at how our policemen have turned to beggars on our roads; the only thing is for them to use calabash to beg for money. This can no longer be tolerated.”

But he didn’t finish saying this when Corporal Ojana shot and killed Eze in Onitsha.

This calls to question the willingness of Abubakar’s subordinates at state police commands to enforce his order.

He really has a lot to do to sanitise the force. Apart from curbing extra-judicial killing of suspected robbers and innocent citizens, collection of bribes at gunpoint on the nation’s roads is one of the excesses of policemen Abubakar must exorcise from them.

Under Abubakar, it should no longer be business as usual for the policemen who think being in the force is an opportunity to maim, kill law-abiding citizens and enrich themselves even with blood money.

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