The image of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) does not, at any time, smell as rose. But the allegation that operatives pay as much as $10,000 to influence their promotion is beyond what is imaginable. The question to be asked is how a police officer on a police salary, which is not the most attractive in the public service, can afford such an amount as bribe.
This allegation is bringing to the fore what is already prevalent in the force where promotions are openly distributed on the basis of ethnic and tribal affiliations. Or on the basis of next -of-kin and in a manner that dares anyone to do anything about it. This bribe angle, and the amount involved, is the latest in the rot within the force that is eating it up and affecting its effectiveness as a security organization.
The Police Service Commission (PSC) that superintends over such matters has already denied that such a horrendous pastime is possible. But the public is already aware that a Police Officer, Abba Kyari, who is now facing trial for infractions deliberately acquired on the job, was recommended for double promotion over and above his seniors. That particular act by PSC may begin to lend credence to this allegation that is likely to open the pandora’s box in an organization that the public love to hate.
We recall that when the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) nabbed him over his alleged criminal collaboration with drug lords, a former Inspector General of Police (IGP) who later became the Chairman of PSC, Mike Okiro, told Nigerians that, actually, he personally recommended him for double promotion. Could that recommendation have been influenced in the light of allegations emerging from the force presently? With the loot from his dealings with drug lords, Kyari could easily have afforded any amount if he thought he needed an accelerated lift in rank.
We are not in any way suggesting that it happened. But at the level of conjecture, it could have happened given the limitless tendencies of the average police operative, at whatever level, to yield to corrupt influences.
But it will be unfair to restrict such corruption-induced activities to the Police alone. Worse things are going in the other arms of the disciplined services and even civil service itself. In those places, applicants pay amounts that run into hundreds of thousands to get letters of employment that may turn out to be fake.
The concern of this newspaper with what has just been exposed in the Police Force is that it has a dangerous implication that could hamper national security. When juniors are promoted over and above their seniors, such untoward development that sacrifices merit on the altar of mediocrity, has the probability of demoralizing committed officers who rely only on the recognition they expect to get from their diligence to duty.
Before now, it is public knowledge that police operatives lobby for postings to assignments that involve investigating crimes, criminals and cases that have monetary attachment. It is also true that otherwise routine assignments like check-point duties are lobbied for because of the pecuniary benefits accruing from them.
It is not unlikely that those officers need those illicit gains to influence things like promotions. We are, by no means, rationalizing such malfeasance. On the contrary, we mourn for a nation in distress. In the face of these things going on in the Force, who knows what else is possible especially with the catalogue of unsolved cases involving known high-level criminals who believe that they can get away with murder.
We recall that the Police Force and the PSC are in court over whose duty it is to recruit operatives. They are fighting dirty over the matter not because of the purity of the process and the genuine interest in the efficiency and effectiveness of the security outfit. It is beginning to look like the key issue is who will be in a more strategic position to collect the larger chunk of the sleaze.
We are enamoured by the fact that the Police authorities, the Force and the Commission, are already investigating the veracity of this damaging allegation. But, as a newspaper, we are compelled to suggest that these two institutions, which are the accused in this matter, cannot attempt to sit in judgment in their own case. It is our opinion that an independent body like the National Assembly should take over the matter on behalf of the Nigerian people.
As we pointed out earlier, this must not be limited to the Police alone. The agencies of government, the civil service, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that carry out recruitment and promotion exercises under the table must be exposed and shamed. It is time to cleanse the Augean Stable.