All over the world, the work of the police is becoming more difficult as criminals devise new ways to avoid being caught. Even then, the police come up with new strategies to apprehend these law breakers and bring them to book.
The Nigeria Police Force is not different as dedicated cops continue to do all they can to make the country a safer place. But bad eggs among them have continued to taint the NPF and the people’s hate has grown in leaps and bounds.
The recent observation by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, that 7,198 Nigerians were killed in four years by Nigerian policemen in the last four years is alarming. Extra judicial killing has been with us for some time and we have always condemned the act, though bad eggs in the police have often thought differently.
Making reference to a report by the Network on Police Reforms during the International Human Rights Day organized by the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja, Adoke said the police relied on Police Force Order 237 to commit extra-judicial killings.
Over the years, criminals have become more brutal, traumatizing their victims and sowing seeds of distrust in Nigerian citizens, but this is not enough to make the police take the law into their own hands.
We all remember the 1987 episode of the Dawodu brothers, on Lagos Island; the Apo six in Abuja, the complicity of the police in the death of the Aluu four undergraduates and countless others that the Nigerian State has failed to resolve. We have heard cases of extra-judicial killings all over the country which the police authorities have promised to investigate but end up sweeping under the carpet.
We have had enough of these mindless killings and it seems the police reforms have not achieved its objectives or how else do we describe the death of over seven thousand people?
The police must be commended in their fight against heinous crimes and armed banditry but the death of some Nigerians, whether accidental or otherwise, in the hands of those we employ to uphold the law, is inexcusable. It is the height of irresponsibility and ought to be checked and remedied immediately.
While we agree that crime fighting is no mean feat, those employed to fight crime should not in the process of fighting crime become criminals themselves by killing suspected criminals.
All the efforts of the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force and other bodies constituted to fight crime may be rubbished if they continue to kill people accused of having committed crimes instead of bringing them to justice through the courts of law.
While we agree that our courts have also been accused of releasing criminals for lack of adequate evidence by police prosecutors, killing perceived criminals does not solve the problem. The police may be angry that criminals are set free by the law but it is no excuse to engage in judging people and executing them, ignoring the laws of the state.
The police authorities must begin a re-orientation, they must begin to educate their men on the dangers of killing perceived criminals and destroying their reputation. The police are doing a great job but the bad eggs among them are sullying their reputation.
The judiciary too must be up to the task while police prosecutors should not be found wanting. It is time to do something about the killing of the innocent or we may end up as a country without laws.
The judiciary, the police, vigilance groups and all those involved in upholding and enforcing the laws of the land need to do more to stop extra judicial killings.