By Emeka Ugwuonye
COMMERCIALIZATION OF SECURITY IN NIGERIA – THE PRIVATE USE OF POLICE OFFICERS FOR PERSONAL SECURITY.
The case of the man Emeka Okonkwo, better known as E-Money shows the gross abnormality in the private use of the police as personal security guards. The Nigerian police leadership make tons of corrupt money through the practice of leasing police officers to guard anyone who can pay for it. It became a racket and a status symbol for private citizens to be moving around with policemen, not only as their body guards, but also as their servants and aides.
And what would be the primary reason to have police as your personal guards? It is that there is violence and there are crimes. To avoid becoming a victim of crime, you pay the police for private security service. It doesn’t end there. Like in every business, the seller wants demand to go up. In this case, the police will want more people to be in need for private and personal security service. The more people willing and ready to pay, the higher they pay and more money for the police leaders. But how will you increase the number of people in need of private security service?
There is only two ways to get more people to pay for personal police protection. First, you lower the services of the police to the public. If the police can protect everybody in the town, nobody will need to have them stationed at his house. So, the police will leave the streets and city unpoliced. And everybody feels exposed and those who can afford it will rush to pay the police for private security. The second way we suspect that can be used to drive up demand for private police protection is through deliberate and targeted increase in crime. I may not have real evidence, but it is logical that the police will plan and execute targeted high profile crimes for the purpose of driving fear into the wealthy members of the society and that will cause them to rush to buy police for private securities.
But every racket has its ugly part or moments of falling out. The recent problems between E-Money and the police is illustrative of this. The police are recalling their men rented to E-Money. The reason the police gave was that E-Money has been using the police assigned to him as servants. But this reason is too weak. He paid and bought the time of these officers. He did it with the active involvement of the police high command. So, he should be free to use them as he pleases. They are his servants.
One must believe that what caused the problem between E-Money and the police is that he is not paying the money agreed to the police. Or maybe, the police wanted him to pay more and this was how to pressure him.
And why can’t the President of the country stop this? Because he needs the police to rig elections.