Army, police extorted N2.8trillion from South East residents in 3 years – Report

Hoodlums set police officer ablaze in Akwa Ibom

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) says an estimated N2.8trillion was extorted at gunpoint from residents of South-Eastern by various security agencies between July 2020 and July 2023

The report titled: “Criminal Monies Have Taken over Security and Governance Duties in Eastern Nigeria,” was released on Monday and signed by the principal officers of Intersociety – Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Ndidiamaka C. Bernard, Chidinma Evangeline Udegbunam, Ositadinma Agu, and Samuel Kamanyaoku.

According to the report, police and military roadblocks accounted for N670 billion, police custodial extortions account for N200 billion, “crime proceeds” converted by police account for N60 billion while squandered governors’ security votes amount to N400 billion.

Others are extortions by militant government agencies which the report put at N700 billion; while the military and police house burnings/lootings across the zone accounted for N150 billion.

The amount extorted for police security to very important personalities (VIPs) and institutions in the southeast within the period under review accounts for N30 billion, and non-state ransoms/robberies account for N400 billion while other crime proceeds from criminal entities accounted for N200 billion.

The report explained that extortions accounted for a 45 percent exodus of businesses from the southeast to the southwest – mainly Lagos, a development that was targeted to destroy the southeast economy together with the government-inflicted insecurity in the region.

“The amount had risen from ‘blue-collar’ corruption and other corrupt practices perpetrated by armed state actors and armed non-state actors cutting across the eleven Eastern Nigerian States of Edo, Delta, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Rivers a period covering July 2020 to July 2023.

“The whopping N2.8trillion proceeds from state actor and non-state actor criminal activities had come from police and military roadblocks N670b, Governors’ squandered security votes’ N400billion, extortions by militant Government agencies N700b, police security to VIPs/institutions N30b, military/police house burnings/lootings N150b, ransoms/robberies by armed nonstate criminal entities N400b and other crime proceeds from armed nonstate criminal entities N200B. Added to the estimated N660 billion police/military roadblock extortions is estimated N200 billion arising from ‘police custodial extortions (.i.e. ‘bail fees’ and ‘cash mobilization’ for arrests, investigations, and court arraignments).

“Estimated sum of N60billion was also linked to gunpoint seizure and conversion of “crime proceeds” by various police crack squads across the eleven Eastern States (.i.e. gunpoint money transfers and cash seizure and conversion of the seized automobiles, motorcycles, and other expensive personal belongings) especially those seized from the slain and the arrested citizens undergoing criminal investigations. The totality of the above is to say that criminal monies have taken over security and governance duties in Eastern Nigeria”

Intersociety in the seven-page research report, explained that it was a follow-up from the main Report of Tuesday, July 18, 2023, which identified six major triggers of insecurity and other unsafe conditions threatening Nigeria with genocide or complex humanitarian catastrophes in the past eight years or since June 2015.

The report, however, queried whether or not the deployed security forces at Eastern roadblocks and other extortionist Government agencies are more criminal and atrocious than non-state criminal entities and criminalities the former are constitutionally mandated to uproot and contain.

“The research question above was sufficiently answered by this Research Report through its findings below that: “the deployed security forces at Eastern Roadblocks and other extortionist Government agencies are more criminal and atrocious than criminal entities and criminalities they are constitutionally mandated to uproot and contain”.

“The research and investigative classification of the N2.8 trillion Eastern citizens’ monies seized at gunpoint across the eleven States of the Region was done because the ‘stolen amount’ was never traced to, or reflected in legitimate Government budgetary processes of the eleven Eastern States. Such budgetary processes include legitimate incomes and expenditures standardized in international best practices.

“Though the Governors’ monthly ‘security votes’ are part of the Government legitimately generated incomes their expenditures are crooked and expressly amounted to executive or gubernatorial thievery as they are whimsically and capriciously spent without recourse to international accountability procedures or standardizations. The ‘Governors’ Security Votes’ also record maddening and sickening increases (over-bloating) at every ‘shout of insecurity’ which in most cases receive legislative rubber-stamping through behind-the-scene briberies. Governors’ ‘Security Votes’ in Nigeria have become a conduit pipe through which public funds are mindlessly and incurably siphoned with impunity.”

According to the report, governors have been found to have hidden under “insecurity” or creation of same to whimsically and capriciously over-bloat and siphon public funds. This is to the extent that “out of every N5billion received monthly as ‘State’s share of federal allocations’, at least N1billion is set aside and siphoned as “monthly security votes”.