, LAGOS, August 9 – A Nigerian police officer caught soliciting a $155 bribe from a driver on a video viewed widely on YouTube has been sacked and taken into custody, authorities said Friday.
The arrest and dismissal of the police sergeant was a rare example of justice linked to the common practice of officers soliciting bribes from drivers on the roads of Africa’s most populous nation.
Drivers are regularly stopped by police, told they have committed an offence whether one has been committed or not and told to pay.
Rights groups say the officers are then required to pay a portion of what they collect up the chain of command, but police deny the claims and say they are working to clean up graft in the force.
“He has been dismissed” after an internal trial, police spokesman Frank Mba said of Sergeant Chris Omeleze, who is being held in custody until the police legal department decides whether there is sufficient evidence to press charges,
Mba said that current police management was working to end such behaviour through enforcement and by improving working conditions for the more than 350,000 strong force.
“There are still some positives,” he noted, saying police responded immediately upon learning of the incident.
He added: “The fact that Nigerians are beginning to rise up, the fact that we are beginning to have whistleblowers”
The video secretly recorded by the driver in the economic capital Lagos and which spread through social media prompted police to take action. It had been viewed more than 150,000 times on YouTube as of Friday morning.
In it, the police officer who has entered the vehicle and is seated in the passenger seat demands 25,000 naira ($155, 115 euros), claiming the driver has committed an offence.