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Is the Police still our friend?

Igboeli Arinze
Recently, it seems like the Nigerian police has been conducting secretly a war against a group of people. These people are not terrorists, nor are they members of the mafia, cutthroats, thieves and economic saboteurs, no! The police is busy fighting a group of people, who are innocent and nearly harmless, who are not members of the class of criminals mentioned above.

The police is at war with the ordinary Nigerian citizen; this institution, which bears the words of ” To serve and to protect” as its watchwords appears to have ditched such an idea in order to carry out this war, leaving in its trail, sorrow, tears and blood!

On a daily basis, Nigerians wake up to now regulalry read about the demise of its citizenry, not in the hands of ISWAP, nor to the devices of villains but to the same people who are meant to protect them! Although this has been happening in the time past, these killings have become rampant and leave many with much to worry about.

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Far from the outcry which greets such brutality in its wake, the perpetrators of such extra-judicial killings have largely gone scot free, without punishment, these killers masquerading as officers are dismissed from the force and charged to court, with the trials stretching over the years. What baffles me the most, is the way and manner in which these crimes are committed; it is usually done under the least form of provocation from the victims, it is also not the case of an accidental discharge, which can be blamed more on the weapon, or negligence than on the bearer of such a weapon. On most occassions, the killings occur at points of extortion under the guise of the numerous checkpoints set up to stop and search. These checkpoints or stop and search points are nothing but extortion points in which the police pretend to be carrying out stop and search activities but in the real sense use such avenues to collect a toll from operators of public transport services as well as ordinary Nigerian citizens.

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At these checkpoints, a Nigerian citizen can be harassed for owning an expensive phone, having in his possession a laptop or because he or she is dressed in a gaudy manner! His case may be worse if he is spotting a dreadlock or some sort of appurtenance like an earring. In these scenarios painted, the Nigerian police officer pretends to possess a number of precognition powers, he immediately brands you as a Yahoo boy or a cultist, he needs no evidence further, he also becomes prosecutor and judge, sometimes you are allowed to defend yourself, but it is all for nothing, you are advised to “settle”, which they say is for your own good or you will be transferred to the station.

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It is at this point that numerous souls have lost their lives, most times because these persons refuse to play ball, insisting on their rights, the policeman becomes agitated, remember he is poorly trained and the system we also live in has failed to hold many of his likes to account, ours is one where life is short, nasty and brutish and no one seems to care. Such a system goads him into such an act and pulling the trigger one is likely to join his ancestors on short notice.

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The Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad, FSARS is chief culprit. SARS has become a law unto itself, operating beyond the confines of constitutional law and meting out to the ordinary citizen unknown scales of bestiality and brutality.

Stories of how individuals were unlawfully beaten, put in jail and even murdered in cold blood will anger any citizen, yet they still operate without any forms of checks on them. This is indeed saddening!

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SARS has such a reputation that Nigerians now joke that should one be fleeing from robbers and encounter officers of SARS it would be better to run back to the robbers than SARS! Another one goes as this, ” May you not encounter SARS as you go about your business today, this is an underated prayer”

The authorities, particularly the leadership of the Nigerian Police Force must be charged to put a stop to such killings of innocent citizens. No nation, except banana republics can afford to watch those charged with the sacrosanct order.of protecting its citizens turn against the same citizenry for no just cause. The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu must go beyond the solution of stun guns as his predecessor proferred during his tenure, rather we must insist that officers are properly trained and educated to understand the demands of their duties. Also, asides from dismissing officers, one thinks that holding commanders and DPO’s whose officers misbehave responsible for such gory events should do more to check these killings too.

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-The Nation

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