Policemen paid bribes for posting to SARS – Ogili, ex-sergeant

Mr Fidelis Ogili, an ex-police sergeant, tells RAPHAEL EDE how he resigned after about 17 years in the Force because of alleged corruption in the system

When did you join the police force and when did you resign?

I joined the police force on July 1, 1982 and left on May 31, 1999. I spent 16 years and 11 months in the Force. I retired as a police sergeant.

What motivated you to join the police?

I joined because I didn’t have a job but after joining the police, I discovered it was a noble profession despite the fact that it was bedevilled by a lot of bad things. However, it was the right place for me to start.

Why did you resign?

At some point, I discovered that things were going wrong which I could not change and the issue was affecting my conscience So, I left voluntarily.

You said you left because of corruption. How bad was it?

It was very bad and it has been getting worse. Even saying it was bad is an understatement but I don’t know any other way to describe it. The corruption was systemic.

Can you give instances of corruption within the police force?

For example, in police stations, there are supposed to be statement papers provided by the police authorities for officers investigating cases. There should be pen, uniforms and vehicles that have fuel. But all those things were not provided for policemen. As a policeman, one would buy one’s shoes, uniforms, pen, statement papers, fuel for patrol cars and ID cards. This is where I fault the system and the police authorities for not doing well.

How did average police officers do their job from the time they got to work till the time they left?

I was trained at the Police College, Ikeja (Lagos) and posted to the Railway Police Command, Ebute Metta. From there, I was transferred to the Police Divisional Headquarters, Ebute Metta junction. At 5:30am, one should be at the station, ready to be sent to one’s duty post. From there, one would go to where one was sent. If one was at the security post, one  must ensure there was security there.

There are many corrupt things some policemen do; they intimidate people and seek bribes. Policemen in Nigeria are the most powerful set of people because our laws allow them to get away with it. That is why most policemen do all manner of things such as committing murder and getting away with anything. The law says they can arrest and detain one if they suspect one. They can break into one’s house if they suspect that something wrong is going on there and there is no one to check if they took the right decisions.

So, they can arrest and detain people and nobody will ask them questions, except when their actions affect the rich, wealthy or political bigwigs. Or if the media get hold of the story and demand accountability. Otherwise, an average Nigerian is at the mercy of a wrong policeman.

Did you bring the attention of the police authorities to the corrupt practices you noticed before you resigned?

No. It was a personal decision. I had on many occasions stood my ground and I was lucky not to be dealt with. There was a time they wanted to get me into trouble by posting me to wrong places because I was speaking against some of the things going on. An Assistant Commissioner of Police who was very powerful in Enugu State Police Command then stood against me. One day, I just decided to leave. I was told I would have to pay some money to the government. I paid three months’ salary back to the Central Bank of Nigeria and resigned.

The #EndSARS campaign is currently trending due to the brutality and harassment of youths by the police. What can you tell us about how they operated?

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