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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 August, 2004, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
Nigerian police 'guns for hire'
Nigerian policeman
Nigeria's police are not held in high regard by the public
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria has accused the country's police force of renting firearms to criminals.

"What do we do with law enforcement agents where a policeman will hire out his gun to armed robbers?" he said.

The president also berated the country's custom officials at a security summit on Tuesday.

Police Affairs Minister Broderick Bazimo said that while the odd policeman might supply guns, this was not true of the whole force.

"You invariably have the odd bad egg, and one bad apple has this tendency of polluting the whole basket of apples," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa in defence of the police.

What do we do with a law enforcement agents where the customs man is chief smuggler?
President Olusegun Obasanjo
At the security meeting, President Obasanjo also expressed concern about the high number of guns in circulation - citing the recent capture of 142 AK rifles in the southern state of Rivers.

"That will more than equip a military company. That is enough to wage war on a big city, not just armed robbery," he said.

The BBC's Mannir Dan Ali in Abuja says public perception of the police seems to concur with that of the president's outburst.

Many people see the police as corrupt and colluding with criminals, our correspondent says.

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