Let me start in this manner: “I know that the 21st century policing should thrive more on intelligence gathering, tactical operations, which will bring about clinical execution of assignment. With this in mind, our security operatives should adopt modern techniques in fighting crimes so as to reduce incidents of avoidable deaths, especially of innocent youths.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor-elect of Lagos state, has called on the Nigeria Police Force to review the operations of its rank and file. He said this on Saturday when he paid a visit to the family of Kolade Johnson, the young Nigerian killed by a policeman’s stray bullets.
Proprietor, Bosworth College, Lagos, Mr Kayode Salako, and colleagues of Dr. Stephen Urueye have described his death as cruel and sad.
Some hoodlums, around 9pm, attacked Urueye, who was on housemanship at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, on Thursday in the Canal area, near the campus while he was seeing off a friend who visited him in his lodge.
The hoodlums stabbed him in the thigh and dispossessed him of cash and an ATM card. The police had arrested two persons in connection with the attack on the 25-year-old doctor, who was the only son of his aged mother.
Salako, who said the deceased attended the college for his secondary education, said he was a quiet and exceptionally brilliant student.
In Kaduna, and now Plateau, there is a growing and rewarding kidnapping business, and the police have been accused of being accomplices in the light of the almost nothing that has been done.
Often, people ask me why I write on certain topics and issues all the time, like bashing government at all levels and the band of ‘confusionists’ that run them, my takes on the education, health and power sector, arguments on ethnicity and the indigene question, among others. My answer is that I do because I believe that such subjects are important for Nigeria and Nigerians as they are for other nations, but when it appears to me that Nigerians, and our leaders particularly, do not react to these topics the way they should, I repeat them in new essays to remind old readers and recruit new ones to participate in the continuing dialogue.
So, again, I am focusing my searchlight on the Nigeria Police. To say that Nigeria today is no longer a secure place is an understatement, although with a sense of responsibility I would say that Nigeria is certainly not the worst among ranks but certainly the citizenry of this sleeping giant deserves more than what they are getting.
The Nigeria Police has had a rugged past and the picture we see in the present does not give us a hope for the future.
Between 1999 and today the police strength has grown from 112,000 to a little above half a million men. Despite this increase, crime has equally increased, because the government in its fast motion to nowhere has not been able to discern the simple fact that even if you recruit 10 million men into the police and still almost 100 million Nigerians are hungry, unemployed, frustrated, crime would still be high.
Sadly the police itself has been one of the worse culprit of poor remuneration and motivation. The take home pay of a police sergeant is a little above N10, 000, because apart from the deductions for all sorts of reasons, inflation has also taken its toll on the money, so he depends on ‘roger’ to balance his take-home pay.
The government of the day has boasted about how it has turned every facet of life around, and how Nigeria’s image has improved. This is not news given the lying nature of the government, a government that is at best a scam like others before it.
Right from the days of Anini the great robber, the police rather than be the combatants of crime, has been partners in progress to armed robbers, robberies and all manner of social vices. It is that bad, if you have an encounter with robbers you are 70% likely to escape with your life intact and the same encounter with a policeman in possession of a pistol, you will have less than 30% chance of survival. And government and police continue to window dress.
In today’s Nigeria, I need not sound alarmist or too critical but the bitter truth is that hoodlums, armed robbers are better equipped than the police in terms of arms, ammunition and resources. In terms of logistics, the robbers have gone a step higher in their modus operandi. Night robberies have been sent into the archives, now it is broad day robberies of banks, traders, houses, etc.
In Abuja alone the police needs billions to contain crime, they have established that their ordinary vehicles cannot contain nor combat the robbers. A 36-state nation, how many APCs do we have? What’s the ratio of cop to population? How many policemen are guiding just one politician?
Talking about billions…the way these billions are mentioned tells you how far we have come as a nation. Nigerians were not known to be thieves, apart from the exceptional and well-celebrated cases of the likes of Anini, Sunday Oyenusi, Shina Rambo, etc. However, today the unbecoming has become becoming (whatever that means). From Zamfara to Kaduna, Plateau to the Southwest, east and all over the military has taken over the theatre of crime.
The police have proven beyond reasonable doubt that it is the bedrock of corruption. Therefore, requesting that they tackle internal corruption is likened to asking a reverend sister to sip Gulder lager beer as water.
Despite the poor and degrading nature of our prisons, most police barracks are not different from rehabilitation homes for juveniles. The police have been reduced to an agency of ridicule and hatred among the populace. The only robbers they shoot are ordinary citizens who refuse to give them the N20 toll. When they conclude an investigation successfully, it must have been that of a landlord and tenant or two- fighting at a bus stop.
Somebody should tell Mr. President that we do not have a police anymore. A security outfit without equipment, funding, without logistics no communication facilities resort to the very crimes they are supposed to protect us from. divisional police offices are now banks; the divisional police officers are branch managers waiting daily for ‘returns’ (bribe) from marketing executhiefs (junior ranks).
When robbers and assassins attack with assault rifles and police come with dane guns, it is obvious that there is a lot that is wrong.
In a particular armed robbery incident in a Lagos bank the robbers expended over 1000 rounds of ammunition. In less than a year bank robberies have become the in-thing, another incident in Benin, saw over 2000 pellets the police vehicle was like a painting of bullet holes. In these robberies lives are lost, the police, the banks, customers, passersby are targets and all the government does is sit and talk of a now concluded elections.
The edifice called the police is a case of epilepsy, from the change of uniform, to increased recruitment of illiterates that can barely spell their names. The problem is not necessarily just that of the Nigeria Police but that of a nation whose leaders have thrown their responsibilities to the gutters.
I end this piece with this nasty but true story. A doctor in a hurry to the hospital to attend to a woman in labour was stopped by the policemen at a checkpoint. He just bellowed at the officer on that Saturday morning… “Don’t you know me…commissioner of health…” the policeman responded “…sorry sir, carry on”. Only God knows how many robbers would have been told to carry on. The situation is bad, let it not be said that we did not talk, write, and even beg the government to do something. When will the Almighty Allah save us from policemen that interrogate, arrest, and detain goats, hens and crates of beer as witnesses, accused and complainants? Only time will tell.