The BBC yet again found another weak spot in Nigeria. The Police. It is up to the Nigerian Police to defend its integrity. How it goes about that is left to the authorities affected. I have done one or two pieces before on the Nigerian Police and I must confess that there was nothing new in that BBC story of December 8 2009.
There is a story that I always made reference to when it concerns how police kill innocent people in Nigeria. In 1995/ 96 while I was doing my youth service in Oyo State I lived on a street where Akinyele Local Government was/is situated. That is Moniya in Ibadan. At that time I was working at IITA in Ibadan as a youth corp member.
I lived directly opposite the local government and inside the premises of the local government was Moniya Police Station. It happened that in the middle of the night (almost every night) I usually hear loud noises that woke me up from my sleep. One day I had to ask my landlord’s son what the noise was all about.
He told me that I should ignore the sound and try to sleep because the police are doing their work-which is executing the robbers in the cell. He said they do that to avoid congestion in the cells. He told me that the bodies would be thrown into a famous river before day break. He told me this casually as if it was a normal thing. Going by its regularity, it was normal. I was shocked. From that day till the end of my service year I usually look closely at the police officers. As in they smile and go about like normal people but I actually thought they are crazy to be executing robbers at night.
That story plus all the other experiences about Police story that I’ve known before made me to dread the police like hell. I mean when I’m close to police officers with guns, I comply with whatever they say 100% because they can pull their triggers at anytime and you are dead. When I started driving in Lagos, every policeman was “Oga sir”! Many of them have red eyes and are invariably drunk. When a police man is pointing a loaded gun at you and ask you for 20 naira, I don’t think you want to mess around. Any dead citizen will be reported as armed robber to cover for atrocities. The BBC story is largely true.
But the Nigerian Police is just a product of a system that is decayed. The former inspector general of Police Tafa Balogun stole and looted police funds. Under Obasanjo billions of naira disappeared to his friends and family rather than the trust fund that was meant for the development of the police force. No one has been prosecuted, no one will be prosecuted. In Nigeria, you can loot and go. It’s your part of the so called National cake. A national tragedy as a matter of fact.
As mentioned above the police is just a product of a decayed system. Our politicians do not get anything fixed except their personal bank accounts and their homes/ future. They steal, they loot and they mismanage everything. Education, infrastructure, sports, health and so on. Just name anything, we have used nepotism, tribalism, corruption, and a form of madness called national character to destroy the fabrics and foundation of this (once upon a time) great nation.
The police have no modern gadgets and equipment to fight crime. They are usually overwhelmed by armed robbers who are more sophisticated. The Nigerian Police have inadequacies in everything! Patrol vehicles are probably too few and even the number of police / 000 citizens will shock anyone. I don’t know the statuses of the kinds of people employed by the police force. With Characters like Tafa Balogun, Mike Okiro and now one Onovo, the road is too long.
Police brutality and abnormalities are not peculiar to Nigeria but I’m a Nigerian blogger so I care less about the corrupt Russian police, the aggressive US Police or the lazy Scandinavian police. My attention is on Nigerian Police at this moment and I feel so sorry for them in a way. I mean their salaries are extremely poor and nothing to write home about. By setting up road blocks and begging for money instead of controlling, preventing or fighting crimes, Nigerian police is the apex of ridicule. They ask for money in the open and they tell you they have families at home.
This is the same country where one man will sit in his office and steal 12 billions dollars. A local government chairman will build houses and estate across the country. The senate president is a well known corrupt man, a thief in plain language. Name one prominent politician in Nigeria that is not a thief! So you see you can’t blame it all on the police, they see their bosses stealing. They see ordinary politicians amassing wealth overnight and with their poor salaries they set up road blocks to help their pockets. In fact, they give returns to their bosses who are sitting with their pot bellies in their office. How many police boss in Nigerian can chase a robber?
When it is election time the evil parties will connive with police to steal ballot boxes or to threaten voters so that elections can be rigged as planned. The Nigerian Police is at the mercy of the way the country is organised. Indeed all/ ordinary Nigerians are at the mercy of a certain evil force ruling the country. I have stated several times that in Nigeria we are in a dilemma: which problem/s do we solve first? How are we going to go about the rebuilding of this failed country?
For sure our politics and the corruption that have ruined the country will be an ideal suggestion. If we get it right politically, maybe we will succeed to elect the right people to lead us. Maybe we will be able to fight corruption for real and prosecute thieves and looters. Maybe our judiciary will work and then the police do not become the prosecutor, judge and executors? Just maybe!
Maybe when our politics is right, our education will pick up again, maybe our infrastructure will improve. Maybe we will build our roads, make our refineries work, create employment opportunities that will reduce the rising spate of armed robbery and assassinations. Maybe!
Maybe we will be proud as a people and eschew bitterness and hatred. One day I hope we will take out all the round pegs in square holes and chose the people who are upright, discipline and selfless to lead us.
Just maybe one day, the police and the rest of us will be doing what we are suppose to be doing and be really proud to be doing so. Until such a time when some of these dreams come true, no one should expect decrease in the number of unnecessary deaths from police miscarriage of judgement, from preventable diseases, from road accidents, from assassinations, from reckless driving and other man made atrocities in Nigeria. Imagine that we have lived 2 years with a fake president who is cooling off in a Saudi Arabian hospital while the rest of us including the police can go to hell! What a shameless man..!
reference: BBC on Nigerian Police