The Nigerian Police have issued a Code of Conduct at checkpoints less than a week after The NEXT EDITION published its undercover investigation detailing multi-billion extortion of motorists by security operatives on the nation’s highways.
In a two-part report, this newspaper obtained first-hand evidence on the shocking scale of corruption and extortion by the nation’s security forces and gangs on federal and state roads.
It was found that over N5.8 billion is extorted annually from traders conveying livestock from the far North to the country’s South-South and South-East states.
With a minimum of 400 truckloads of cattle leaving the North to the 11 South-South and South-East states weekly, traders pay a minimum of N300, 000 per truck in illegal levies, fees and taxes.
In a month, no fewer than 1,600 truckloads of cattle are transported to the two regions and more than 19, 200 truckloads in a year.
The report had also shown how the criminal extortion has significantly turned up the cost of food and goods, leaving average Nigerians to pay dearly for them.
This newspaper carried out the investigation with support from the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and the Ford Foundation.
Despite several meetings and promises by heads of security operatives at State and Federal levels, the extortion persisted.
The battle to end the extortion started in 2015 and has been largely fought by the leadership of the Amalgamated Cattle Dealers Association of Nigeria (ACDAN).
The group had also approached President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate to seek their intervention to end the menace to no avail.
But a few days after this newspaper and its collaborators exposed the multi-billion extortion ring; the Nigerian Police issued a 14-point Code of Conduct for motorists plying the nation’s highways.
The Code of Conduct has since been posted on the Nigerian Police official Twitter handle @PoliceNG.
The Code of Conduct was unveiled by the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba
New Code of Conduct at police checkpoints in Nigeria, by NPF
1. Endeavour to slow down your vehicle. It shows that you are not reckless. It also douses suspicion that you are a criminal and may want to speed off.
2. Turn down the volume of your car stereo. Courtesy demands this. Besides, you are able to hear each other better. This simple act will also help you to win the confidence of the security operative.
3. Keep your hands visible to avoid unnecessary suspicion or fear by the officers that you are attempting to bring out a gun or other harmful objects to attack them.
4. Turn on the inner light of your vehicle while approaching the cops (if at night). It readily sends an unspoken message that you have nothing to hide.
5. Be friendly and cheerful. Commend the officers especially when you see them working under very unfriendly weather conditions such as the rains, the harsh harmattan conditions, excessive heat, cold or sunshine. We know it’s their job, but a little kind word from you will do a lot of good. Remember when you smile at the mirror, the mirror smiles back at you.
6. Endeavour to be polite even when answering questions put to you by the officers.
7. Don’t dare or challenge an armed security man to a duel. Oftentimes, you hear people say things like ‘shoot me if you can!” Note that this is a recipe for disaster! It is very provocative and an unnecessary call for war. So, please play safe, more so, as you do not know the state of mind of the officer concerned.
8. Also, don’t go into a physical fight with an armed security officer. He may resort to the use of his weapon (rightly or wrongly) to defend himself.
9. Avoid unnecessary argument with armed security personnel. There are a thousand and one ways to seek redress where you feel your rights have been infringed upon.
10. Never try to touch an officer in an unfriendly manner. He may suspect you of trying to disarm him.
11. If you are a regular traveller or road user, make sure you have the police emergency phone numbers of the route you operate. You never can tell when an emergency situation could arise and you need the Police to come to your aid.
12. Make sure you have all your relevant car papers and desist from actions or inactions that constitute either a criminal or traffic offence. Such infractions of the law provide veritable grounds for possible charges and other forms of adversarial contact with the Police or other law enforcement agencies, including unnecessary arguments.
13. Don’t give the impression that you are unhappy to see an officer on his beat or that he is wasting your time. But if you do have an emergency, politely inform the officer. Don’t speed off while still being checked.
14. Take note of the name tags, Force or Service numbers, personal description, description of weapons or patrol vehicle of the security officer especially where the officers begin to conduct themselves in an unprofessional manner.
15. Seek an audience with the most senior police officer at the checkpoint if things are not working out smoothly.
16. Politely insist to be taken to the police station if your complaint is not properly addressed.