For the third time in the past two months, another policeman has been caught on video demanding a bribe of N10,000 from a motorist.
The footage, secretly filmed by a passenger at the back seat of a vehicle in Onitsha, Anambra State, has so far received thousands of hits on YouTube. The three-minute 18-second video which first appeared on the YouTube channel of one Tola Tim, has since become an Internet sensation.
In the video, a policeman apprehended the driver of a vehicle that was coming from Akure, Ondo State to Umuahia, Abia State. The policeman sat in the front seat with the driver, and after checking the vehicle particulars, declared that he had discovered some discrepancies between the documents and the chassis number.
In the video, the policeman explained that the number ‘0’ was the last number on the chassis number inscribed on the vehicle, while number ‘3’was the last number on the documents presented to him for perusal.
The driver was seen arguing with the policeman that he had asked him to veer off the road in order to enable him (policeman) do proper checking of the vehicle. Once the alleged discrepancies were discovered, the policeman insisted that he would collect N10,000 before he would release him.
The driver’s appeal that there was an unintended mix-up somewhere and that the vehicle was not a stolen one fell on deaf ears. A nursing mother who sat at the back also appealed to the policeman.
The man in uniform bellows, “Settle us. Just give us N10,000 make I waka comot. Or is it too much? If I knew you stole the vehicle, I won’t collect money from you.”
But the driver, on noticing the adamance of the policeman, said he won’t give in to his demands.
“It is three much! I want you to take me to your station. I’m not afraid of anything. I can go back to Akure. At worst, I will miss my appointment in Umuahia. Why will I part with N10,000 on the vehicle I didn’t steal? No sir! I can’t do that.
“I will rather go back to Akure, get the registration officer and other supporting documents, come back with another vehicle and clear myself. And that is to tell you that I have not done something wrong,” the driver said.
The unidentified driver also calmed the nerves of the apprehensive nursing mother who clutched a baby girl to herself. “My sister, don’t worry! At worst, you will sleep in a hotel with your baby when I go back to Akure,” the driver added.
The policeman replied, “Eh eh. It is three much. Wetin make am too much?” After ruminating over the issue for some seconds, the policeman, who was armed with a gun, ordered, “Driver, come down.” And the video went dead.
Meanwhile, outrage has trailed the incident on various social media platforms. Those who have watched the video online describe the encounter as a pointer to the depth of rot and decay in the Nigeria Police Force.
They urged the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to conduct an orderly room trial to ascertain the policeman’s culpability in the alleged crime and place appropriate sanctions on him if found guilty.
An anonymous reader on lindaikeji.blogspot.com says apart from condemning the act of corruption and sacking the culprit, more needs to be done to cater for the welfare of the rank and file of the police.
The reader said, “If you have a police officer as your relative, you will understand better. The income they get can’t even feed them alone not to talk of their families. The country doesn’t cater adequately for their needs. Many police barracks look like refuse dumps and they are expected to live there with their children.”
But a YouTube user, Paul Saint, argued that there is no excuse for being corrupt, attributing the behaviour to greed.
Saint stated, “This has nothing to do with the service welfare of the police. Corruption in Nigeria has nothing to do with low or high salary pay. If you are corrupt, no matter what you earn, you will still find ways to illegally enrich yourself. Most cases of corruption recorded in this country are perpetrated by persons who are otherwise fairlycomfortable with bribes.
“Corruption is as a result of greed only. Not poverty or low pay. We must condemn corruption at all times and not make excuses for it. But even if they are not well paid, there is no excuse for corruption. The most corrupt persons in Nigeria started off with collecting less than N10,000 and because we excuse them or celebrate them, they step up their demands to millions and billions. Well paid or not, do not demand or collect bribe.”
It will be recalled that three cops have so far been dismissed by the police authorities after being filmed demanding bribes from motorists.
A police sergeant, Chris Omeleze, who was caught on video camera extorting N25,000 from a motorist in Lagos in August was the first casuality of the social media whistle-blowing.
Two traffic policewomen, corporals Elizabeth Itolor and Jennifer Azingbe, who were also videotaped receiving N100 bribe from a commercial bus driver at the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway were dismissed earlier this month.