Security agencies in the country collected at least N44m as bribe from members of the public during the lockdown imposed by the Federal Government to curtail the spread of coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic in the country.
Human right activists under the aegis of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, in a statement on Monday, said the police, army and others extorted the money mainly from travellers at inter-state boundaries.
The group in a statement by its board of trustees chairman, Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi on Monday in Awka, Anambra State said,
“Those directly or vicariously responsible for collection and pocketing of the bribe included officers and personnel of the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps and Nigeria Customs Service.
“Officers and personnel of Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Navy also got involved especially where they mounted roadblocks or were joined as members of ‘Joint Security Taskforce (JTF)’ and drafted to jointly man COVID-19 border post and boundary post-security.
“The Joint Security Taskforces under reference are generally maintained across the country by various State Governments.
” Involved in the roadblock, boundary post or border post-COVID-19 bribery and extortion were the civilian COVID-19 taskforces drawn from State or Federal Governments’ ministries of health and transport.”
They maintained that
“The Nigerian security forces and their chiefs are likely to have collected and pocketed total cash sums validly estimated at not less than N44bn in the past 90 days or from 30th of March to 30th June 2020.
“Our investigation covered lands and borders and did not include railways, coastal lines, waterways and airports.
“The criminal sums were collected by the named culprits while enforcing intra and inter-state COVID-19 “prevention lockdowns”.
The group called for the lifting of the inter-state lockdown order, stating that it had become counterproductive and a conduit pipe for extorting the people.