I thought it was just a joke until I started hearing it from different angles. Could this be real? So our police who are skilled in the special skill called ‘pocketing’ will no longer have pockets to practise the skill any more. In case you don’t know what pocketing means, let me explain it to you briefly.
Pocketing is a system developed by Nigerian police where a policeman stops motorists and without asking for his particulars or doing any security check, rests his hand on the door frame at the driver’s side only to bring it out in fist shape and directs it to his pocket.
A passerby that is not aware of this practice wouldn’t know what has happened within those few seconds. Immediately the policeman places his hand on the door frame, the driver squeezes a naira note mostly N50 or N100 note into his hand. You can imagine how many notes he will fill his pockets with within just few hours staying on the road collecting money from motorists while contraband are being moved freely around.
Although it is ironic that the same government that has allowed the bastardisation of the police over the years with their policies and underfunding of the force which has now produced thugs and petty thieves in uniform is the same government that is trying to stop them from practising the skill of pocketing they devised as a means of survival as their salary is nothing to write home about. Some months ago, the Inspector General of the police, Ibrahim Idris, said that the total amount of money needed by the force annually was N1.13 trillion but only got N36.1billion in 2017 budget.
Considering the established corrupt practices that is rife in government institutions and agencies, it is obvious that a good part of the N36.1 billion would have been embezzled. We may now begin to imagine what would be left to fund the budget of the police. According to the World Internal Security and Police Index International (WISPI), Nigeria has the worst police force in the world.
One thing I am certain about is that most Nigerians will support the removal of pockets from the Nigerian police uniform. Ideally, the presence of the police should connote security, peace and tranquility but the opposite is the case in Nigeria. The presence of police connotes trouble, insecurity and horror. In Nigeria, there is a little difference between how a policeman and an armed robber is seen. To an ordinary Nigerian, a policeman is someone he cannot trust and whose presence he cannot be comfortable with. The Nigerian police has thrown shame through the window for long and no longer care about dignity. It is not an uncommon occurrence for a Nigerian police to inform a criminal of the informant that gave him away. It is in Nigeria that a policeman will follow an internet fraudster (yahoo-yahoo) to the ATM to withdraw money to bribe him. What a shameful act. So to many Nigerians, removing pockets from police uniform is a welcome development.
However, I wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t say yet that removing pockets from our policemen and women uniforms would make a difference as I know they will soon devise a new way of collecting bribes and extorting money from motorists. I am not certain what new skills they will come up with but I am certain that such ingenuity of coming up with new ways of extorting and bullying Nigerian citizens will not elude our police even though it may be hard for them to think of new ways of ridding the society of criminal activities.
It is important I register my fear here. I am afraid that if the police are stripped of their mobile banks (pockets), they may come up with a worse system of extorting motorists and citizens. Do you think it will be below the Nigerian policemen and women to come up with ‘you owe me cards’ with their names and account numbers on the card which they will be giving to motorists to make payment in to their accounts?