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Group Says N2.8 Trillion Lost Due To Extortion At Gunpoint In Southeast In 3 Years

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Popular human rights Organization,  International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has carried out fresh field studies with a revelation that estimated N2.8 trillion or $3.5billion belonging to self reliant and lawful citizens of Eastern Nigeria was lost at gunpoints in three years of July 2020 to July 2023, which was perpetrated by armed state and non state actors.

“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.

It alleged that  whooping N2.8 trillion proceeds from state actor and non state actor criminal activities had come from police and military roadblocks N670b, Governors’ squandered security votes’ N400 Billion, extortions by militant Government agencies N700b, police security to VIPs/institutions N30b, military/police house burnings/lootings N150b..

“Ransoms/robberies by armed non-state criminal entities N400b and other crime proceeds from armed non-state 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 N60 billion 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

This was contained in the fresh report  signed by the Organization’s  Board Chairman, and Criminologist, Emeka  Umeagbalasi, and other officials of the Organization and made available to African Examiner Wednesday. 

“This Report of ours is a follow-up to 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. 

“Intersociety’s Report of 18th July 2023 had graphically traced the present insecurity and other unsafe conditions to former President Muhammad Buhari Government’s quest to plunge Nigeria into Afghan modeled “Islamic Caliphate”. 

“Other identified triggers of insecurity in the Report are the “Buhari’s C-in-C above the law license on Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen”,

“the Buhari’s C-in-C operational death code to security chiefs against defenseless citizens of Eastern Nigeria”, “the over-bloating and squandering of the Govs’ security votes”, 

“The lack of political will and sincerity by former Government of Nigeria under Retired Major General Muhammad Buhari/the Governors/Governments of the South-East” and “the security sector corruption and operational crudities”.

“It was also found that discriminatory and vindictive handling styles and incompetency of the Nigeria Government(s) have dangerously escalated insecurity and other unsafe conditions to the extent that several victim-populations have been pushed to the wall and forced to resort to violent self helps or reprisal radicalism leading to springing up of no fewer than 50 non state armed revenge and counter-revenge groups responsible for present “eco-politico-religious criminalities”, 

“Out of which over 30 of the 50 armed groups are linked to Islamic Jihadism across Nigeria and 20 others engaging in “politico-economic criminalities” ravaging Eastern Nigeria.

“Our Report of July 18, 2023 also threw up a cardinal research question: 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 on account of the fact that 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 but 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. 

According to the group,  “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-scenes bribes. As a matter of fact, Governors’ ‘Security Votes’ in Nigeria have become a conduit pipe through which public funds are mindlessly and incurably siphoned with impunity.

It recalled  that “intersociety had in its ‘Mother Report’ of July 18, 2023 identified ‘Governors’ Security Votes’ as  a major trigger of insecurity and other unsafe conditions in Nigeria particularly in the South-East and the South-South Regions. 

“The Governors are 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 N5 billion received monthly as ‘State’s share of federal allocations’, at least N1 billion is set aside and siphoned as “monthly security votes”.

“Therefore, to the extent that the N2.8 trillion “Criminal Monies” are found to be incapable of passing through legitimate budgetary processes of incomes and expenditures at Sub-National or State Governance processes, they are .

“Criminal Monies” fueling and hightening security and governance sector corruption and other corrupt practices including criminal enrichment and insecurity and other unsafe conditions by deployed police and military ‘criminal forces’ and their barbarous activities mass murders, abductions, disappearances, acts of torture, criminal/false labeling; ethnic and religious profiling, enforced migrations and displacements arising from police and military property/ house lootings, burnings and destructions.  

“The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law has earned a name and respectability in tracking, monitoring, documenting and exposing security sector and other Government agencies’ ‘blue-collar’ corruption in Nigeria since 2008. 

“In  August 2010, we were instrumental to the international compilation of a special report: “Everyone’s in on the Game: Corruption and Human Rights Abuses by the Nigeria Police Force” by the United States based Human Rights Watch and assisted by Intersociety and Access to Justice.

In Dec 2011, we issued a Special Report bordering on police roadblock extortions in Nigeria covering 2009-2011-with South-East as a case-study and the Report found that “N53 Billion was illicitly collected and pocketed by estimated 5000 roadblocks across the country including 1500 alone in the South-East at N20,000 per day/police roadblock”. 

It added  that “in January 2012, the Report formed part of the ‘new policy direction’ by the then newly appointed Inspector General of Police, MD Abubakar. IGP, MD Abubakar’s excitement over the Report led to drastic reduction in the number of police roadblocks, from estimated 5000 to 1000 ‘special police checkpoints’ across the country during which police extortions at roadblocks were effectively checkmated. Intersociety had also since 2012 till date monitored, documented and exposed security sector blue-collar corruption and other corrupt practices including military involvement in roadblock extortions traced to the 2016/2017 deployment of military personnel at Eastern roads. 

“Among our ‘recent years’ Reports’ on police/military roadblock extortions were those of Dec 2018 (‘Ember Months illicit roadblock extortions of N100b by police on South-East roads), the August 2015-Nov 2019 roadblock extortions on Eastern (South-East/South-South) roads estimated at N312B and the Dec 2019-June 2020 COVID-19 police/military road/border/boundary lockdown extortions across Nigeria estimated at N44B

Revealing it’s statistical findings further, on Police/Military Roadblocks, the group said “there are estimated 6000 police mounted roadblocks on Trunk A (federal roads), Trunk B (state/inter-state roads) and Trunk C (local government/community roads) motorized roads spreading across the eleven States of Eastern Nigeria (South-East and South-South). 

“The above is on average of 550 police roadblocks per State mounted by over 40,000 police personnel in all on average of seven extortionist police personnel at each roadblock. 

“At minimum of N60,000 estimated to be illicitly collected daily by each of the estimated 6000 police roadblocks, N360m is illicitly pocketed daily, N10.8b monthly and N130b yearly; further translating to N390B-N400B, illicitly collected from motorists and other road users at Eastern roads between July 2020 and July 2023. 

“There are also estimated 2500 military roadblocks involving 25,000 military personnel on State average of 250 military roadblocks-with estimated ten military personnel at each military roadblock.  At estimated minimum of N100, 000 illicitly collected daily by each of the estimated 2500 military roadblocks, minimum of N250m is illicitly collected daily, N7.5b monthly and N90b yearly further translating to N270B from July 2020-July 2023; totaling N670billion from police and military roadblock extortions from eleven Eastern States’ roads in the past three years of July 2020 to July 2023.

“The Onitsha/Ogbaru Nigerian Naval checkpoint at Uga Junction/Atani Road Junction in Anambra State, for instance, illicitly collects and pockets not less than N400, 000 daily from sand excavators, Tipper Lorries/Haulage vehicles, commuter buses, tricycles, etc.   

“In 2017, Senator Isa Misau, a former police DSP, alleged that not less than N10B was being collected and illicitly pocketed by the office of IGP from VIPs and institutions in the form of “monies paid for their special police guards and security protection” and that the amount never reflected in Federal Government or Police annual budgets”.

“Also going by our recent checks, this amount has increased to estimated N20B annually, translating to N60B from July 2020-July 2023, out of which N10B came from the East; an indication that N30B had been collected from the Region and illicitly pocketed in the past three years. 

“It must be noted that Eastern Nigeria is the most ‘blue-collar’ or transactional/cash carrying society’. The Region is also home to ‘street criminal entities’ in their hundreds engaging in sundry ‘street criminalities’ including: highway/roadway/street/bank robberies; kidnap-for-ransom, gun-point cybercrimes, non-gunpoint cybercrimes, stealing, roadside/motor-park touting, political thuggery.

Others are  carjacking, illicit drug and illicit arms trafficking, premeditated murders/attempted murders including assault occasioning grievous body harms; domestic violence including wife battering and rape; violent land/property grabbing or encroachments, burglary/house-breaking, vandalism, oil/ other mineral thefts  and other forms of crimes against persons and properties. 

“Eastern Region is also troubled by politico-religious crimes including Jihadist Herdsmen attacks; violent self determination agitations and their counterfeits.

“Estimated to have been criminally collected at police custodies or stations across the eleven Eastern States in three years was N260billion; out of which estimated N100billion came from police criminal bail fees “in connection with Biafra terrorism matters” and others carrying ‘capital punishments’. Under this, citizens of Igbo South-East and South-South are majorly targeted for indiscriminate arrest and arbitrary detention; forcing them into falling victim to exorbitant extortions including selling their ‘criminal bail fees’ to the highest bidder. 

“Among them are citizens involved in civil wrongdoings or offenses of traffic disobedience or misdemeanors and innocent others. In our field evaluation, it was estimated that 500,000 of such defenseless citizens had come in contact with police personnel at police stations across the eleven Eastern States in the past three years during which each of them was forced into regaining his or her freedom or falsely promised the same after being forced to pay minimum of N200, 000 to the arresting and investigating police officers. 

“This amounted to a total of N100billion in three years. There are those who paid as much as N1m-N5m each so as to be freed. Another shocking criminal sum of N100billion was linked to custodial/operational police officers’ demands for “cash mobilization for arrest or investigation or prosecution”; during which estimated 200,000 ‘rich complainants’ got involved; with each forcefully paying such police officers N500, 000; translating to N100billion in three years. 

“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; totaling N260billion illicitly collected and pocketed from police custodial extortions in three years.

“The indiscriminate ‘criminalization of security and other safe conditions’ or ‘de-criminalization of insecurity and other unsafe conditions’ by way of creating insecurity or blowing the same out of proportion so as to over-bloat the security votes and have them wastefully spent or squandered without statutory accountability in line with international best practices has become a common place among the sitting Governors in the eleven Eastern States of Edo, Delta, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa.

” This is to the extent that the above has led to reckless increases in the amount of public funds magisterially set aside as “Govs’ monthly security votes”. These increases are also done by Govs outside standard codifications and effective legislative oversight monitoring.

“Their respective State Houses of Assembly are used to rubber-stamp the wasteful spending or siphoning of the Governors’ monthly security votes. Therefore, by our conservative estimations, the average of N1B is squandered monthly by each of the Govs of the eleven Eastern States, translating to N36B annually and N396B-N400B in the past three years of July 2020 – July 2023.


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