By Yekeen Nurudeen
Issues of harassment, intimidation and demand for bribes top the list of public complaints against operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, ICIR has gathered.
Findings by icirnigeria.org revealed that Nigerians have been lodging different complaints against men and officers of the Nigeria Police through the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit, PCRRU, created on November 13, 2015 by former Inspector General of Police, IGP, Solomon Arase to address issues emanating from unprofessional conduct of personnel of the Force.
Top on the list of public grievances against the police are harassment and intimidation of law abiding citizens, and demand for bribe before suspects are allowed on bail.
According to a Police officer who is attached to the Public Complaints Unit at the Force Headquarters, Abuja who would not want his name mentioned because he was not authorized to talk to the press, many Nigerians have been making use of the Unit through the mobile phone numbers provided by the police and other social media platforms created for the purpose.
According to him, complaints by Nigerians revolve around issues of harassment, intimidation, assault and demand for money for bail. These complaints, he explained are usually registered on quick response number for resolution.
He said many of such complaints have been resolved by the Police hierarchy noting that many Nigerians whose complaints have been attended to and resolved have also called the Unit to express gratitude.
“A lot of people are calling back to say thank you” he said
He however could not provide the statistics of the complaints received and attended to since November 2015, saying ‘except I go through the record’.
Meanwhile, further findings by ICIR reporter revealed that a total of 822 complaints were received by the Police Headquarters in 2016.
A report released on the website of the Police Public Complaint Unit on January 25, 2017 shows that Lagos state with 153 complaints tops the list of states with highest number of public complaints against the Police.
The Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Rivers, Enugu and Anambra states followed Lagos on the list with 130, 116, 41 and 40 complaints respectively.
Kebbi and Jigawa States are last on the list with zero complaints from the public.
Zamfara had two, with Katsina and Taraba States having one complaint each.
A further breakdown of the complaints show that there were reported cases of professional misconduct by officers of the Police in 2016 and 262 reported cases of demand for bribe while excessive use of force by the police accounts for 238 complaints.
Out of the 822 complaints, the report indicate that 636 cases were either resolved or close with 30 cases still pending while 156 were treated as false or unrelated cases. There were also 17 distress calls
But in spite of the statistics, the report said only one police officer, a sergeant attached to FCT Police Command, was demoted to corporal following proven case of misconduct.
It added that eight other officers received sanctions as a result of complaints made against them to the Unit.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris who rebranded the Unit last year from Complaints Response Unit to Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit said a reward mechanism has been put in place for State Commands with no public complaints against their personnel.