8th December, 2010
Perhaps to atone for their dastardly acts in recent times, policemen are currentlyÂ holding a five-day prayer retreat at the police College, Ikeja, Lagos. The retreat,Â organised by the Catholic chaplaincy of the police is being attended by 24 priestsÂ from all over the country, including Fagboun O. Seun, a reverend father and anÂ Assistant Superintendent of Police, who is also the Chaplain at the ForceÂ Headquarters, Abuja.
According to the organisers, the retreat is to make policemen fast and pray for theÂ growth of the nation and the police officers.
We have nothing against the police holding a prayer retreat to seek the face of GodÂ in the face of daunting challenges confronting them in the task of maintaining lawÂ and order in the society. It is good to seek divine intervention in our activitiesÂ and learn to do the will of God. For it is by so doing that we can achieve successÂ in our endeavours.
Our grouse, however, has to do with the theme of the prayer retreat and timing.
Frankly, the period we are in calls for pragmatism by everybody to address theÂ numerous ills confronting the nation.
We dare say that holding a prayer retreat at this period is not the solution to theÂ wanton killing of defenceless civilians by the men in uniform in recent times. ThisÂ is not the time for a spiritual excursion into the realm of the unknown. We all knowÂ the problems facing the police. They include poor training and inability to adapt toÂ the present democratic dispensation, siege mentality, lack of equipment, poorÂ remunerations and corruption.
The police leadership should address the incessant killing of innocent civilians byÂ the rank and file.
The theme of the retreat should have dwelt on measures to prevent unnecessaryÂ killing of defenceless civilians by policemen.
Just last Sunday, a civilian, Femi Olayiwola, a.k.a. Femi Best, was killedÂ in theÂ most gruesome manner by a divisional police officer, DPO. The victim, it was learnt,Â ran to a police station to seek refuge but yet the police officer pursued him to theÂ station and shot him dead in his car.
The question the police leadership ought to be asking by now is what could have madeÂ the senior police officer to kill the defenceless Olayiwola.
One would have expected the orderly room trial of the officer who was arrestedÂ immediately to have commenced.
The police can use this to assuage the anger of members of the public over theÂ incident.
We are calling on the police authorities to embark on a massive enlightenment of itsÂ personnel to use the guns bought for them with tax payersâ€™ money with all sense ofÂ responsibility. They should stop killing innocent civilians. Policemen and membersÂ of the public should be partners in crime control. The police can only succeed inÂ crime fighting if they get the cooperation of the public. The police hierachy shouldÂ organise a retraining programme for its rank and file.
What is needed at this period is for the police to ensure that a halt is put to theÂ senseless killing of defenceless civilians. Policemen should be exposed to periodicÂ training in weapon handling to prevent accidental shootings which is so commonÂ nowadays.
The Inspector-General of Police should move fast in the present case to reassure theÂ public that nobody is above the law, not even a DPO who callously snuffed life outÂ of an innocent civilian.
It is good to pray, but prayers without action is nothing.
The police should first cleanse their stable of the stench of innocent blood shedÂ under questionable circumstances by bringing culprits to book befor their prayersÂ for growth can be answered.
This is spiritual. They must atone for their sins first before their prayers can beÂ heard by God.