How to stem police brutality

The denunciation of police is almost becoming a consensus to Nigerians considering they are the government security agency that is closer to the people and an adage says familiarity breeds contempt.

By definition, police is a body of people employed and deployed by the government to keep public order, to prevent and solve crime and to ensure governmental statutes and orders are obeyed. It needs to be a body that has people that have the finesse and training to handle people of all mannerisms. Due to some police officers’ inefficiency and unprofessionalism in the discharge of duty, they are involved in cases of extra-judicial murder and manslaughter and other inhumane treatment meted to civilians.

They said “police is your friend” is a familiar slogan which mostly has turned out be a mirage. Some of the police officers are just always willing to arrest people in order to swindle them and sometimes innocent civilians end up in a pigsty cell for virtually doing nothing wrong. The police officers specially employ agent provocateurs in order to entice people to break the law so that they could make an arrest and they end up sharing the proceeds of the so-called bail with those agent agents.

The rapport that needs to be established between police and civilians appears not to be forthcoming. A friend was arrested in December 2020 for passing midnight outside and was arrested while walking back home and no incriminating material was found in his possession. The arrest took place at Bakin Kura street and he got detained in a highly pigsty cell in the police station opposite Central Market in Bauchi metropolis.

He spent the night in the cell without being allowed to perform his daily obligatory prayers. At the end an exorbitant fee had to be paid for his bail and his hair was cut. I don’t know whether any law gives the police the mandate to cut people’s hair through the use of force. It’s a sham in Nigeria when they tell us that “bail is free”. Why are we told that bail is free? Even though a friend who’s an aspiring barrister told me that the money collected during the bail is for the maintenance of the cells and toilets; maintenance of pigsty cells and toilets? If it is for the maintenance of the cells and toilets why would it be exorbitant and indiscriminately paid? When a person comes to bail his relative or friend, a bargain ensues about the bailing price to confirm the assertion that it’s a scam.

Police’s brutality and corruption is as plain as a pikestaff and it needs to be curtailed as soon as possible even if it’s for the singular reason of public peace. Police are surely pivotal in the provision of public peace and defence of public interests.

The pitched battle that took place in Nigeria due to the #EndSARS protest is highly uncalled for and condemnable but it’s not unconnected to the police’s brutality and corruption. This protest has caused destruction of individual and public properties to the tune of billions of naira plus the loss of many lives thereby ridiculing the work of the police. Their cardinal objective is to protect lives and properties and per se their inaction has led to the destruction of lives and properties.

Proper measures and guidelines need to be taken in order to establish amity between the police and civilians. The racketeers and trigger-happy officers need to be fished out and expelled. Due to the racketeering in the police, the police are synonymous to corruption.

If the police treat people gently and kindly there would surely be the desired rapport between the police officers and civilians and thus can make people report crimes and thereby effectively and efficiently maintaining public peace and order. The inhumane treatment meted to civilians in the police stations and cells need to be curtailed. The cells need not to be pigsty, it should be clean with proper ventilation because some people arrested by the police were not actually criminals but arrested due to circumstance beyond their control and so every detainee should be treated humanely and this would surely leads to good rapport between police and civilians.

Alas! To get rid of such bitter narrations in our societies and to forestall future recurrence of mayhem like the #EndSARS, vigorous assessment of force personnel with regards to every case of citizens’ maltreatment have to be carried out and of course awareness on public safety should beintensified.

Shamsiya Muhammad Umar,

Department of Mass Communication,

Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic,

Bauchi.

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