The Nigeria Police: Friend Or Enemy?

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Police is your friend, so goes the slogan. We are constantly reminded that the police remain our best friend. I believe the slogan was formed in good faith, having the interest of Nigerians at heart. But today, we have come to agree that the worst mistake you will make in times of emergency is to rely on the Nigeria Police.

I don’t know if I am right, but I think the major duty of the police is security of lives and properties. I remember some years back when a gang of armed robbers visited my house, the police was called, but never showed up until the robbers left. The next thing was for them to come in and start asking for money to carry out an investigation. I then told my husband to forget about them as nothing was going to be achieved.

I am not the only one with this experience, almost every Nigerian has a story against the police. Some years ago, I had to consciously use my vehicle to brush a policeman who was so engrossed in the collection of N20 from bus drivers that he didn’t even know I was waiting for him to leave the road. What a big shame on those, whose duty is to protect the citizens of the nation!

Widows always tell me stories of police officers ask to sleep with them when they run to them for help. We have had stories of girls being raped by the police who should protect them. I pity the people who have police all over them because they are the same people to plan your death.

I am not saying there are no good eggs among the force, but the problem is that the bad ones don’t allow the good ones do their work. They don’t even get promoted and in a case where they find them up there, they do everything to pull them down.

Do you still remember the policeman, a very dedicated one, who was honoured during Col. Marwa’s time in Lagos State? That man was so dedicated to his duty that I would always give him money wherever I saw him. I saw that man turn people back for taking the wrong lane. He was not interested in how much you have to offer him, but always insisted on people doing it right. I was expecting the Police Force to promote such a man as a way of encouraging good service, but recently, I saw the man still standing under the sun,looking wretched in his tattered uniform.

I still wonder if men of the Nigeria Police go through any form of physical training. I laugh whenever I see them on the road with their very big tummy. How could anyone in the security industry get that fat? Even when we have them controlling traffic that is not what they are there for.

I remember a course mate being shot on her back during our final exams. That lady lost that year and has been on a wheel chair since then because her spinal cord was affected. This is one reason I speak against the Nigeria Police.

I am yet to be educated on the role of the Nigeria Police when it comes to the National Driver’s Licence. I believe it is the duty of the Federal Road Safety Commission who gave us the licences to check for fake and expired ones. But Nigerians are so ignorant that these people take advantage of them. I used to be that ignorant until the day I was driving with a lawyer friend who confronted them on that. He refused to give them his licence even when he had it in the car. He bluntly told them it is not a part of their duty. The earlier we get educated on the duties of each of these bodies, the FRSC, VIO,LASTMA, NPF and KAI, the better for us. I am sure LASTMA and KAI will soon start asking for licences.

I tried to sample people’s opinions on the recent killing of some police officers by soldiers. To my utmost bewilderment, the Nigerian masses were happy it happened because, according to them, nobody has done anything about the series of killings of innocent citizens by the Police.

Just yesterday on my way to Surulere, I saw a policeman ask a boy to kneel down very close to the highway. What a way to wish someone death? In other developed countries, when you commit any traffic offence, nobody has the right to hit you or dehumanise you in any form. All they do is give you ticket to pay for your offence. But I don’t know if this will work in Nigeria when we still have people eating from lack of organisation and accountability in government.

I think the greatest problem we have in this country is ignorance. People go to school and graduate without knowing their rights. Another problem is the way the judicial system runs. Some people know their rights and are ready to take up cases with these ones, but by the time they count the cost in terms of time and money, they are forced to go back.

I hear of human rights foundations and social welfare offices in several states, but are they really functioning? Are they taking care of the masses they were created for? I think most of them are just another means of looting the treasury because when you check them out, you will only find people who don’t know their right from their left as directors.

Back to the issue of the Nigeria Police. I know Easterners are familiar with this. I have travelled by road to Ibadan and other South West states, but the way police terrorise people going to the East is totally dehumanising. I also think this is happening because we Easterners believe money answers it all. The Westerners always stand for their right and get what they want from government, but we so much depend on our wealth to make things happen. For how long are we going to have policemen mount up check points every 100 meters along the road? Something has to be done about this.

Sometimes, I stop to appreciate these policemen standing on the road. When we talk corruption, the problem is not those men standing on the road, but their bosses sitting in their air-conditioned offices with their protruding tummies as a result of bribe received daily.

This is something that flows from the top down to the bottom.

The news is that the boss in the FCT tells all his commissioners what to bring at the end of every week or month. The commissioners turn to the Divisional Police Officers (DPO) for their returns. The DPO then goes back to the station and because he has to keep his job and a posting to a good area, he sends his men out to terrorise the masses and come with good returns.

Why do we go on blaming innocent policemen who are just acting under pressure? They stand under the sun from morning till evening, only to be paid

N15,000 at the end of the month. I think the issue of security should be taken serious because if they are not well catered for, they will never want to lay down their lives for the service of their fatherland because they are forgotten the moment they lose one of their arms.

In the case of death, the family is even sent out of the barracks with no one asking after them while the bosses service their foreign accounts.

Corruption in the Nigeria Police Force is something that must be dealt with from the top. When the righteous is in power, the people rejoice. Take the sudden demise of the Managing Director of GTB, Tayo Aderinokun; no GT banker is happy. According to them, the next MD may turn GTB to what it is not, nursing the fear that it is likely to go the way of the other new generation banks. It will take Nigeria having a godly Inspector General of Police who is honest in his or her service to the nation to bring about the desired change, but for now, I don’t see it happening.

Education also helps in the building of any nation. In a case where we have area boys carry guns all over the place, what do we expect? The Nigeria Police Force should be restructured in a way that university graduates find it exciting to join.

I recently cautioned a policeman who came into a party drinking both beer and gin with his loaded gun. I thank God he listened to me and quietly walked away. Why should any normal person carry a gun and misbehave with it in a crowded place?

Education will go a long way in helping the Nigeria Police but as it stands now, Nigerians have no faith in the force.