Nigerian PoliceA twitter user, while narrating his own ordeal with the Police/SARS personnel, said that he almost lost his manhood when he and his friend where harassed and maltreateds by the police while they were on a journey. According to him, the offence they committed was that “We were all young men in the Vehicle.”
Like this Twitter user, Every Nigeria has a story to tell about the abuse of power, molestation, harassment, extortion and other criminal activities by the Nigeria Police. If given the opportunity, almost every Nigerian would narrate and even write a book on their bad experiences and encounter with the police or unpalatable testimonies of the encounter people close to them have with the force.
In 2017, Nigeria Police was ranked the world worst police in the world by the 2016 World internal Security And Police Index (WISPI). Nigeria Police was ranked along side countries like Congo, Kanya, Uganda and Pakistan, with Nigeria holding on to the last position in the rank. The ranking, which outlined factors like, the incidence of corruption, resources devoted to policing, size of the police force, and the police ability to clamp down on terrorism tendencies, to come up with it verdicts on the ranking of the police in the countries of the world, points to the fact that the Nigerian Police needs reforming and re-positioning.
As expected the Nigeria Police Force, through its Spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood refuted these claims by the world security body, insisting that the Nigeria Police is the best police in Africa. In more case than one, the Nigerian police are known for denying the obvious. Since the inception of the campaign to end the impunity, corruption and lack of respect for human right by the Police, by the #EndSARS/#ReformPoliceNG movement, the police immediate response was to call those who initiated these campaigns armed robbers.
Every Police station has the sign “Police is your Friend”, but any time one have an issue to sort out with the police, even if it is to report your stolen purse or get a police report, you realize that you are afraid of either been extorted, harassed or been declared a criminal. The police which have been constitutionally empowered and mandated to protect lives and properties of Nigerians are now terrorist on the street. With their AK47, most of these officers roam the streets seeking for bribe or blood. Even with police men around you, you are not sure of your safety.
It is now an unfortunate trend that the Police sees any young Nigerian, aspiring to make things work for them as being involved with in illegal business. They are regarded by the police as potential thieves, yahoo yahoo boys, cultist, thugs armed robbers to name a few that must be dealt, harassed and arrested without concrete Evidence or investigation.
No one can deny the claims that the Nigerian police are corrupt, not even the defensive spokesperson of the force Jimoh Moshood. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in it list of the corrupt agencies of government, the Police got the number one spot on this list. The reality is that most police man is seeking for ways to get extort Nigerian. Everyday we hear that bail is free, but when you get to the police station, bail becomes as expensive as buying a gold wrist in a bouquet.
The answer to the question of how the Nigerian Police Force became a terrorist organisation, terrorizing the people it is paid to protect is not really far fetched. The Rot in the Nigerian police force is a reflection of the situation of the society. A society where corruption and graft have become a norm. Officers in the force are motivated to join the force not because of the prestige of the job but because of all corrupt gains of the profession would avail. And the desperation to get these gains makes them deadly. News abound of people who have been either shot dead or beaten to stupor by the police because they refuse to give them a bribe.
We find it convenient to point accusing fingers at the men of the police force when they are also Nigerians, and Nigerians love to have and exercise power. Nigerians have the tendency of wanting to use and abuse power for self gratification. Nigerian politicians are perfect example, they appeal to the electorate for their mandate, at the end of the day when they get the mandate, they use their authority against the their people. Police men also, with the mandate to protect lives and properties of the people use the power given to them to torment the people.
Every police man of the streets of the country have become paranoid because they understand that most people detest and distrust them due to the manner with which they carry out their duty. To deal with the feeling of being hated and despise, the police man employ force and brutal antics to get respect and relevance.
The worst part of the problem of the Police is lack of professionalism in the discharge of their duty. The police are known to handle cases as though they have no basic training. Their investigation into criminal cases is no doubt poor. The mentality of this officers it to get to the scene of a crime and arrest anybody who is unfortunate enough to be at the scene at that particular time and pick up/mishandle evidence that could be very vital to cracking the case
The disregard for human right has always been the problem of the Force. The police authority has always been defensive when its men are accused of abusing people’s rights. Unfortunately, no effective mechanism have been put in place to curtail the activities of these bad eggs in the force. Instead of absorbing the blame and act on the failures of the force, those who criticise the force are declared wanted for absurd reasons. For instance, Mr. Segun Awosanya the convener of the #EndSARS/#ReformPoliceNG was declared wanted by the police. As a matter of fact, the Public Relation Officer of the Nigerian Police, Jimoh Moshood accused him and other campaigners of having criminal intention behind their call for the end of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Nigerian police would continue to be found wanting as regards her duty to the people until the security of few privilege elite is not longer the priority of the force. According to reports, 80 per cents of the officers of the Nigerian police are deployed to protect VIPs, while twenty per cent of the force see to the protection of the majority. This is absurd. The lopsidedness in this security arrangement is detrimental to the wellness of the society. Even with the order by the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police, Ibrahim Idris on the 9th of March, 2018, for the withdrawal police men servicing as body guards to less than 5 percent of the Nigerian population, the order has not been enforced.
The severed trust between the Nigeria Police and the members of the society have done the country no good. Security of lives and properties can only be guaranteed if there is a concrete synergy between security agencies and the people. The Nigeria police need to make the first move by ensuring that reforms are introduced in the force to ensure that mutual suspicion between the police and Nigerians is terminated. The Nigerian people also need to take responsibility by seeing the police as their partner.
In all fairness to the Nigerian Police, the force has made landmark achievement in ensuring peace in our society. Some of these men have paid the ultimate price for the security and safety of Nigerians. But for the bad eggs amidst them – eggs that have continue to give the force a bad name – Nigeria police deserves some accolades in some area. Despite the fact that the agency are without enough men, under funded and deprived of basic equipment and facilities that would ensure they diligently carry out their duties, the force have done all it can to manage the huge and massive security realities of the Nigeria Nation. However there is more to be done.
If indeed we want a reformed and re-positioned in the police force, the government needs to do a lot. The welfare of the men of the police must be brought to the front burner. Equipment and facilities needed by these men to carry out their duty must be provided. Most important, Police Officers must be adequately and continuously trained during and after recruitment to ensure that they venture into the profession with the right mindset. Lastly, erring personnel must be swiftly punished to serve as a deterrence to others.