In a recent development, the police in Rivers State have vehemently refuted claims that three officers, previously paraded for allegations of abduction and extortion amounting to $3000 from two Nigerian citizens, are roaming freely without facing prosecution. The denial came through the state’s police spokesperson, Grace Iringe-Koko, who issued a statement on X on Friday, dismissing the accusations as “false, malicious, and misleading.” Superintendent Iringe-Koko, in response to a post by human rights activist Harrison Gwamnishu from Delta State, clarified that the accused officers were not at liberty but were, in fact, detained at the state’s Criminal Investigation Department, undergoing the standard disciplinary procedures within the police force.
Notably, Gwamnishu had taken to the microblogging platform to express concern over the officers’ perceived freedom, tagging police authorities, including the force spokesperson and the police commissioner in Rivers State. His post raised questions about the efficacy of the disciplinary process and the sincerity of the police force in addressing allegations of misconduct by its officers. While denying the allegations, Superintendent Iringe-Koko revealed that another complaint had been filed against the officers, identified as Assistant Police Superintendents Doubara Edonyabo and Talent Mungo, along with Inspector Odey Michael.
These officers have been taken across several states.
The spokesperson, however, did not disclose the nature of the new complaint, leaving the public in suspense about the extent of the officers’ alleged transgressions. She added, “Furthermore, the accused officers participated in an identification parade held at the State Criminal Investigation Department on February 2, 2024, in connection with another complaint against them. We urge the general public to disregard the publication, as we will provide updates on the outcome of the disciplinary committee in due course.” Harrison Gwamnishu had previously alerted the police in Rivers State to the incident involving the abduction and extortion of $3000 from two Nigerians by officers from the state.
Gwamnishu claimed that the officers had crossed state borders, journeying from Rivers State to Aba in Abia State, where they abducted two individuals. The victims were reportedly taken to Delta State, Bayelsa State, and eventually “dumped” in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, after being extorted of $3000. In response to Gwamnishu’s report, Superintendent Iringe-Koko took swift action, identifying and parading the accused officers before the media. The recovered money was promptly returned to the victims, and the police spokesperson assured the public that the officers would face a formal inquiry and an orderly room trial.
Recent complaint raises concerns about police conduct.
However, this recent revelation of another complaint against the same officers raises concerns about the prevalence of police misconduct and extortion in Nigeria. It prompts a closer examination of the systemic issues within the police force and the need for comprehensive reforms to address the root causes of such behaviour. Police extortion is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria, and incidents like the one in Rivers State shed light on a pervasive problem that demands urgent attention. Extortion not only erodes public trust in law enforcement but also perpetuates a culture of corruption within the police force.
To gain a broader perspective on the issue, it’s essential to delve into the systemic factors contributing to police extortion in Nigeria. One significant aspect is the low remuneration and poor working conditions that many police officers face, pushing some to resort to illicit means to supplement their income. Addressing these economic challenges within the force could be a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices. Furthermore, there is a need for enhanced oversight and accountability mechanisms to ensure that officers implicated in misconduct face the appropriate consequences. The current disciplinary process, while in place, must be strengthened to deter officers from engaging in unlawful activities.
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Civil society organizations, like the one led by Harrison Gwamnishu, play a crucial role in exposing such incidents and advocating for justice. Their involvement not only holds the police accountable but also empowers citizens to voice their grievances and demand transparency. It is evident that police extortion in Nigeria extends beyond isolated incidents, and the recent developments in Rivers State highlight the urgent need for a comprehensive review of law enforcement practices nationwide. The public deserves a police force that is transparent, accountable, and committed to upholding the rule of law. Only through systemic reforms can Nigeria hope to eradicate the deeply rooted issue of police extortion and restore faith in its law enforcement agencies.