The Nigerian Army and Police Force have been urged to immediately launch an inquiry into the alleged extortion of farmers and herders in some conflict-ridden communities of Benue, Taraba and Kaduna states.
A recent investigative report by Daily Trust had indicted soldiers and police officers deployed in Adaka and Wadata communities of Benue, Jalingo town in Taraba and Zangon Kataf area of Kaduna state of engaging in unprofessional conducts, and exacerbating the plight of farmers and herders through intimidation and extortion.
Security and Energy expert Kevin Eyneface led the call for Army and Police authorities to swing into action immediately during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Kevin stated that the investigation, which also exposed the identities of some people who perpetrated the act, is valid enough for the security agencies whose personnel have been indicted to take prompt action while urging the military and police hierarchies not to ‘sweep the report under the carpet.’
Advising the Nigerian Army and Police authorities, He said that “the fact the investigation actually named names is a commendable feat to start with. Hence, it is now left for the system to heal itself, but the question is to what extent will they (Army and Police) want to go to in healing themselves,” Eyneface queried.
He added that extortion is an outcome of the corruption in the security system of Nigeria – be it the military or the police, noting that the situation is worsened by lack of consequence for bad behaviour of some security agents, flawed recruitment processes, nepotism, cronyism and poor remuneration.
“Deployment in military, police or DSS to anywhere is backed with corruption. It has to be either based on cronyism or nepotism or some form of bigoted relationship or jingoism. From my experience, a merit window comes when you are exceptionally good.
“Why do we have a country with a multiplicity of remuneration across the board? Why do politicians earn much more than a Nigerian inspector in the Nigeria Police? The minimum salary of a counsellor in a political office is almost N500,000, with other benefits. Do we have the same salary for a police officer that carries an AK 47 to protect us or a military officer that protects us with arms – the answer is No,” Fyneface stated.
Towing the same line, Daily Trust journalist Musa Luka Muka asked the Nigerian Army and Police authorities to act on the investigative report indicting security agents of compromising standards in Benue, Taraba and Kaduna communities.
Musa urged the Federal Government “to do something urgently about extortion because people are suffering out there. People are dying in the rural areas.
“There are lots of farmers and herders in crisis; they are facing worse situations than what has been reported, but they are not ready to give out information because they are skeptical and afraid of a reprisal attack, He explained.
The investigative journalist stressed the need for ordinary Nigerians to be sensitized about intimidation and extortion by security agents.
“Sadly, the citizens fear to give out information. As such, we have to engage in sensitization. We (the government) should do something about this report because people are suffering out there. People are dying in the rural areas,” Musa said.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program PRIMORG uses to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.