Nigeria's police force was put under the spotlight by international watchdog Human Rights Watch on Tuesday. In a new report, the group said widespread corruption is systematic.

Everyone's in on the Game
, that's the title of the Human Rights Watch report about Nigeria's police force.

Speaking from Lagos, lead researcher Eric Guttschuss says it's no exaggeration.

"The abuses by the police are very serious and the corruption is also widespread," he said.

Police officers in Nigeria work in difficult and often dangerous circumstances, says the report, and many do so with full merit.

But it says corruption can be found at every level.

It says innocent people are regularly detained and a fee demanded for their release. Bribery, it says, has become institutionalized.

It says rank-and-file police officers are often forced to pay their senior officers a share of the money they extort from the public.  

"People who are assigned to lucrative posts such as roadblocks or working traffic are given monetary targets that they must meet and then give back to their superiors," added Guttschuss.

Officers who were interviewed by Human Rights Watch said if officers did not meet those monetary targets they would be punished with a transfer to a less lucrative post.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 145 people for the report.

A market trader described being beaten by police and a woman said she had been raped.

"I interviewed a father in Anambra State, whose only son, a 16-year-old boy, was arrested by the police," said Guttschuss.  "They detained him and tortured him over an extended period and then demanded money from the father in order for his release."

Guttschuss says the father paid, but not everyone is able to.

"Unfortunately we also interviewed people who were unable to pay the money and who's loved ones were then found later to be in a hospital morgue, dead," he noted.

A police spokesperson was unavailable for comment when contacted by VOA.