The Nigeria Police Force is an organisation you will certainly encounter during the course of living within Nigeria; consequently, it is essential that you develop an intimate understanding about how to deal with officers and men of the Force in order to minimize friction and free yourself and your family from their shackles in the shortest amount of time possible.
In Our experience, Nigerians have this belief that lawyers have the ability to sort out matters, irrespective of the complexity. However, lawyers are not magicians, we have only become highly knowledgeable about the psychology and structure of the police, and we have learned to operate within and around the confines of their operations.
First of all, let’s give some background to this narrative. Over the years, the issue of security in Nigeria has received a lot of attention from the Federal Government along with the corresponding budgetary allocation to take care of equipment and welfare of security agents.
But despite this, the hundreds of police divisions under the 37 commands of the Nigeria Police have no budgets to run their offices. They are left to scrounge to keep their offices running through companies located in their domains and the community development associations of their areas of coverage.
According to an interview culled from Punch Newspapers, the Division Police Officers have had to depend on various means to fight crime as far as available resources can take them. A DPO who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on behalf of the force told our correspondent.
“People think we are miracle workers. We don’t get any budgets here. People don’t ask how we fuel the vehicles we use to patrol the streets and to chase after criminals. In fact, people should be praising us and asking how we do it,”
In order to raise funds for their activities, it is not unheard of for the police to request for ‘Mobilisation money” before commencing investigation or arrest in a case. This mobilisation money is negotiated on a case by case basis, with minor cases attracting between N1,000 and N5,000 Naira, while more complex cases attract mobilisation fees ranging from N20,000 to N100,000 depending on the station or police department involved. The police may also act as debt enforcers, assisting creditor in the recovery of outstanding moneys, in return, the police receive between 5% and 10% of the sum recovered.
Regarding Bail, do not delude yourself, it is definitely not free! you will be required to pay between N5,000 and N50,000 depending on the nature of the offence, the perceived financial status of the suspect and his relatives or friends who come to bail him and the day of the week (bail is cheaper on Monday and costlier on Friday).
In the event that you have any reason to fall into any situation requiring you to deal with the Nigerian Police, you need to keep the following in mind;
- Keep calm, the police are human beings like you
- Try not to show fear, many police men feed off the fear of suspects
- If you have been invited to a police station, you came under arrest immediately you walked. The Nigerian police have no understanding of what an arrest warrant is.
- If the arrest is for a minor offense, such as an invalid driving license or driving on a ‘One-Way’, it is advisable to ‘settle’ the officer before you get to the station, otherwise you will spend lots more money when you get to the station and the ‘Oga’ and other officers get involved in the matter (and have to be given a share of the bail money).
- Never write your statement before consulting with a lawyer
- Avoid fighting or abusing a police officer, it may be the last thing you do in this life.
- The power of the Police is limited to a 24-Hour period without charge, they must either release you on bail or they face liability for breach of your fundamental right to Liberty.
- Every offence has its bail, most times bail ranges between N5,000 and N15,000. If the IPO requests for N100,000, he is actually asking for N15,000; if he asks for N200,000, he is a thief!
- The police thrive on intimidation, you must counter their actions with humor, if they cannot intimidate you, you have the upper hand in any subsequent bail negotiations.
- The police know how to use their powers, and they have Esprit D’ corps. You cannot beat them whilst you are still within the confines of the station.
- If any of your fundamental rights are breached by the police, note the name of the officer that did the act, as well as the station with which he is posted. This information comes helpful in a Fundamental rights suit against the police.