Nigerian Police Operation

by Michael Egbejumi-David


I was in Nigeria. Right about the middle of my stay, my younger

brother on his way to work one early morning was accosted by three

smartly-dressed men of the underworld. He was made to lie face down

on the ground, only occasionally checking his face. After they

satisfied themselves that he wasn’t the person they were looking

for (I hope it wasn’t me!!), they took his wallet off him and drove

away. My brother, thoroughly shaken, staggered his way to the

nearest police station to report the crime. The officer at the desk

coolly informed him that to make a report at all, my brother had to

pay N2,000. In the end, the officer reluctantly accepted the N1,200

that was left in my brother’s car. And that was where the whole

matter ended as far as law enforcement was concerned.


that got me thinking. I decided whilst I was still on the ground, to

do a little research into how the Nigerian Police Force really

operates. I conducted – you might say – a double blind,

randomised control research! Basically, the Nigerian Police more or

less gave up on fighting crime a long time ago. It is now all about

making money.


are my initial findings:

  • The

    main funding of Police rank and file comes from illegal road blocks

    and checkpoints. In a 2010 Human Rights Watch account, it was

    reported that between January 2009 and June 2010, the Police had

    collected from road users some N20.35 billion. That sum was further

    broken down by region: the South East N9.35 billion, South South N4

    billion, South West N4 billion, North Central and Abuja N2 billion,

    North East N500 million and the North West N500 million

  • There is a curious regulation that originally requires vehicles with

    blacked-out windows to register with the office of the Inspector

    General at about N20,000. However, the officers on the road stop

    all vehicles with tinted screens. Non possession of the clearance

    document costs you N5,000

  • Generally, commercial vehicles cough up N20 at every road block even

    if they can see the next checkpoint a few metres ahead

  • Sometimes those road blocks in close proximity are manned by

    officers from the same Police station – usually close to

    festive/holiday times

  • For private vehicle owners, it’s a different ball game. There are

    mainly two types of checkpoint stoppages. When you are stopped with

    a smile and a “oga, your boys are here o,” means you should use

    your discretion and these type of officers always make the most


  • “Wey your particulars” means your contribution is anywhere

    between N100 and N200

  • Engine number check is about N500, but if you are unfortunate enough

    to run into an officer who says that he could not tell whether the

    figure ‘4’ looks like a ‘9’ then the cost to you jumps to


  • Don’t worry about having only large denominations on you. The

    officers carry plenty of change with them and will always give you

    the absolute correct change – no cheating

  • But you will not find the officers with bulging pockets. This is

    because every now and again, the Feds drive through and will check

    the officers for money. Anything more than N2,000 on each

    individual officer means all the officers at that checkpoint get

    bundled away somewhere where they themselves will have to roja-up

    for their release

  • So where does all that money go? In the past, it used to go into a

    large tin or container just off the road in a little bush area. But

    some boys (particularly in the South East) have become experts at

    distracting the officers while one of them nick and cart their tithe

    away. These days, watch out for the pure water seller that doesn’t

    seem to stray too far away from the checkpoint and only seem to sell

    to the officers. She is the banker.


this is not all. There are still other means of making money off the


  • For most MOPOL, a posting to a politician or a big man/madam is the

    ultimate career goal. Interested MOPOL has to first agree to

    regularly hand over a percentage of his monthly salary (about 10%)

    to his boss. But don’t worry, the MOPOL actually makes the bulk

    of his earnings (plus feeding and drinking) from his new civilian


  • It is an unfortunate day to be out and about when a DPO’s

    girlfriend comes to demand for some money, or the DPO’s jeep

    needs some repair work, or his kids are about to return to school

  • Without fail, the DPO gathers his officers in his office and gives

    them a straightforward mandate to bring back to him, say N45,000.

    No elaboration is required

  • His officers fan themselves across the commercial areas of town

    looking for fights, scuffles, arguments and such other spectacle or

    incidences. When they happen on one, they pack everybody present –

    certainly as many people as their vehicles can take – and herd

    them off to the police station

  • “Oga, I no follow” or “oga I no dey o” will cost you N1,000.

    Active participants will part with between N3,000 and N5,000 or

    they become guests to mosquitoes bigger than their shirt buttons

  • If town proves too peaceful that day, the officers are likely to

    wander around residential areas and pick off men in wrappers and

    chewing sticks talking or lolling about in front of their homes and

    charge them with “breaking curfew”

  • If you “break curfew,” your bail cost is N1,000. Now, the

    reason they pick out people in only a wrapper is because they are

    unlikely to have mobile phones on them. The officers carefully

    ensure that this group spend one affectionate night in police

    custody. By then, their relatives have become sufficiently worried

    that by the time one of the officers call to inform them that their

    person is in their custody, the family are so relieved, they pay up

    the N1,000 without even the customary bargaining

  • However it is not over. During the phone call, the officer would

    very graciously inform the family that he is using his own personal

    ‘handset’ to call because “I am assisting your brother. I be

    born-again and I no like to see good people suffer like this.”

    Interpretation? Bring a recharge card with you to the police



how has it come to this? Well, for one thing, various military

regimes selfishly ensured that police recruitment and infrastructure

collapsed nationally. Secondly, the people at the very top of its

command are even more insensitive and more devious. When the

government gives, say, N20 billion to the Force, the IG first takes

his cut. Then the AIGs take theirs. The Commissioners finish off

the rest. NOTHING at all goes towards what the money was originally

intended for and nothing gets to the rank and file Police men and

women. They are left to fend for themselves.


you see? Please ante up as you sing Nigeria we hail thee…

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1 comment November 6, 2011 - 9:37 am

I couldn’t stop laughing as I read this stuff. Tragedy of monumental proportion it is, but laughter is the best antidote for the pain our country unleashes on us.

Thanks for this piece.


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