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Olusola Adegbite, Esq.
The tale of the Nigeria Police has become a tale of One week, One Trouble. If a set of Policemen are not beating up an innocent lady somewhere in Bayelsa all because she wore a tattoo, it would be that some other of their colleagues are ganging up to brutalize a young Nigerian, for simply asking them not to shunt the queue at an Ondo ATM. Sometimes, it is the most bizarre, as it happened recently in the case of a Police prosecutor conniving with a Rapist to destroy a rape case, and went as far as demanding for 5% of the settlement money, or in the most extreme cases, it is that which is beneath a human being, as it was in the case of the Police Inspector, who all for filthy lucre wilfully assisted a Man who raped and butchered an 8year old to escape from detention. Suffice to say that the long-list is scary, and so despicable have the Police become, that the Force has since successfully overtook Kinapping, becoming Nigeria’s number one problem and the greatest threat to her National security.
When President Buhari lost the 2011 General Elections, he was drenched in tears, lamenting how he was so over-prepared to transform the country. It was a pitiable sight. This drama and other subsequent factors, later collaborated in dumping the 2015 Electoral victory on his laps. With the hurricane that his electoral victory was, many had thought that what would follow would be immediate and massive reforms across the many corrupt agencies in the country. As a matter of fact there were high hopes that amongst the dirty list, the Nigeria Police an Agency of the Federal Government that had become a pigsty swimming in corruption, would be the first to be purged. After all how do you mount a succesful anti-corruption war, without starting with a dismantling of the Police? But rather than reform the Police, what did we get? The usual behaviour. Like the proverbial Ostrich that buried its head in the ground, the President stuck to the familiar script – nepotism, ethnicity, prebedalism, favouritism, and morbid sectionalism. When Nigerians questioned the wisdom behind the appointment of the current Inspector-General of Police, who was then an Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) when there were several ably qualified Deputy Inspector-Generals (DIGs) ahead of him, the answer was that he was the most intelligent Policeman of his time. And here is the quality of Mr.IG’s intelligence…
As at today, the Nigeria Police is the most disgraced, ridiculed and despised of all Federal agencies. Since this IG came on board, no sensible reform has taken place in the Police, except for a regurgitation of the same obsolete moves of previous governments in recruiting 10,000 Policemen, scoring an own-goal by pouring so-called new wine into a wine-skin that should have been discarded. No new thinking, no new idea, no new direction. So disgraced is the Police that a once enviable uniform no longer attract any value. Get to anywhere and you see People bragging about how there is nothing they have not offered as bribe to the Nigerian Policeman at checkpoints. People talk of Policemen as having become so low that they collect things as insulting as banana, biscuit, egg-roll, kulikuli, gala, dodo-ikire, lacasera, vigumilk, bread, wedding rice, and any other despicable thing you can think of. Policemen collect bribe and even give ‘change’, without any iota of shame. Sometimes they are even deceived with used wraps of edibles, thinking it is money.
The average Policeman is poverty clothed in a garment, looking tattered, hungry, and angry, and it is in the hands of these ones that our so-called responsibile government has placed the lives of its people. They are the rehearsal lines of upcoming comedians. If a Policeman is not fighting at a beer-parlour, another would be somewhere gunning down a relative of the deceased at a burial, and that is if a SARS team have not abandoned their duty to go settle the quarell between a husband and a wife. Policemen look miserable, our Politicians look over-fed, yet we want the country to be safe. Who else will mortgage security, if not the miserable policeman. While the President is busy insulting those who asked him to come back to his country, his policemen have become errand boys to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Every School drop-out turned overnight millionaire, or lousy Hiphop Artiste now has a Police escort. So bad is it that no one is shocked to see a Policeman carrying the bag of the wife of a Motor-park Chairman. What country lives like this, and expects anyone to take her seriously?
It must be said, that it is criminal for a government that has so failed its people in a matter so proximate to life as security, to still further remain silent in the face of daily Police brutality. While the People may remain as victims, the same renders the government as accessories after the fact. This government may give as many excuses as it wants, it may deploy as much propaganda as its imagination can toil, but the lives of the hundreds of innocents Nigerians that has been lost as a result of its dereliction of duty will remain an ugly lamp-post. What Nigerians want is massive reforms, and not empty letters about friendship with an abusive Police. It is a shame that after 2years of this government in power, and with all the boast about ‘change’, Nigerians will still be under the yoke of this kind of Police Force. I dont know about you, but for me the Police is not My Friend.
Olusola Adegbite,Esq. is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He is currently away at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York, United States.