Smile, be polite, and avoid fighting an officer. These are some of the tips to improve drivers’ experience during a police roadblock in Nigeria, according to the force’s Twitter account.
It is not clear what prompted them to share the 16 guidelines, but a recent embarrassing viral video of an officer hassling a driver at a checkpoint for a bribe might be behind it.
In it, an officer is captured asking for a bribe of 4,000 naira ($10; £7) because the initial offer was, according to him, not enough.
Such incidents have reportedly ended in motorists being shot dead after drivers refused to oblige.
The police do not address the issue of bribe solicitation in their “tips for safe and cordial relationship at checkpoints”, but advise that:
So, just in case you’re wondering how to comply with the guidelines, here’s what a motorist should do:
Slow down as you approach the checkpoint, ensure the car’s interior lights are on, if it’s at night, and keep your hands visible to avoid spooking police officers.
Lowering the volume of the car radio would be greatly appreciated:
Goading a police officer is also not a good idea:
So is touching an officer:
The police also felt it was necessary to warn about the potentially fatal consequences of fighting an armed police officer:
Most Nigerians don’t trust the police because they see them as unprofessional and corrupt, according to BBC Nigeria editor Aliyu Tanko.
They often complain about the ubiquitous checkpoints, which many feel have been set up purely to extort bribes.
Nigerian police are among the worst paid and ill equipped in the world, our reporter says.
The police, however, see bad interactions with the public as being a result of misunderstandings.
They advise the public to be courteous when engaging with them:
The guidelines are being seen as part of efforts by the police service to burnish its image. It comes after the police held a public engagement event on social media.
The reaction on Twitter to the police checkpoint guidelines has been mixed:
- “As you’ve given us these tips. Also educate your officers on how to behave. Not when one follow these tips and at the end your officers start saying ‘leave those talk’, pay me and go’. Let’s be guided and play our respective parts.” @Shilorine
- “The only thing missing here is what citizens should expect of policemen they meet on the roads. Do we not have any rights, or expectations of courteous service from people who are supposed to be providing service. It is all one way.” @rotilaw
- “Sir I am I highly impressed with this information and as you are informing and guiding us also try to inform your boys too”. @_Tee90papi
- “All the policemen along Abakpa to Nsukka road know me and can recognise my vehicle from miles away. Why? Whenever I see a check point, I slow down, hail the officer on duty, ask him how his day is going and tell him well done. I’ve never had an incident. They’re human beings too” @crayziggy