The men of Nigeria Police Force where once civilians and will later in life turn to civilians, either by retirement, resignation or dismissed. Like the popular says, whatever goes around comes around. When Nigeria civilians took to the street to protest for act of injustice done to them, or when they are suppressed, oppressed, or deprived of their fundamental human rights, and they tried to voice out by protesting to draw the attention of the authority concerns to their issues, the men of the Nigerian Police Force often be used against the civilians to tear-gas and dispatch them without minding if any of them will get injured or probably died in the cause of justifying their allegiance. We have several examples of these scenarios, which Google can assist.
These days, some men of the Nigeria Police Force now realized that every citizen has the right to protest and press home their demands, and the men of the Nigeria Police Force can now take to the street to block road and protest, and nobody obstruct or tear-gas them or spray hot water and pepper on them. Ordinarily, can civilians try that? Then I ask; who will tear-gas police for civilians?
I recall the event that happen in July this year, when the policemen in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, took to the streets shooting into the air and chanting war songs in protest of what they called six months unpaid allowances and the video clips went viral on traditional and social media. But the Nigeria Police Force Headquarter in Abuja denied that it was not a protest. Ok, let’s agree it was not.
Also, according to the media reports on the 23/11/2018, it was reported by The Nation Newspaper (http://thenationonlineng.net/anxiety-police-protest-poor-accommodation-imo/), “for two days the hooded police officers barricaded the Owerri/Orlu road in Owerri, the Imo State capital resulting in heavy gridlock and panic in the area. Shooting sporadically into the air, the demonstrators who hid their identities also set bonfires on the highway”. Narrating their ordeal to newsmen, one of the protesting officers said, “We have been pushed out of our quarters on Orlu road by the management of Federal Medical Centre Owerri. To make things worse, our commander supported the act and no alternative place has been provided for us”. Interesting!!! That is what I called the outcome of bad governance.
Don’t misquote me, I am not happy with their situations, neither will I ever encourage such abnormally to continue in the system of governance. But the truth be told, will they support the civilian if such action is taken? Even if they will not join the protest, will they allow the citizens to exercise their rights, which also include protesting to let the public known their plight? Or to present their case to the appropriate authority concerned? Over time, such opportunity was thwarted by the men of the Nigeria Police Force with the support of their sister agencies. Often time we heard that Police is our friend; are they really our friends? The amazing thing in most cases is the fact that they used their guns, which were bought with the tax payer’s money to intimidate the innocent citizens, while the bandits will be there somewhere raving the community at will and you dare not challenge them. I am once a victim, so I know what I am talking about. Ask for evidence, and you will get it.
I have watch videos where the patriotic security men helped the good citizen in Ukraine to dump their corrupt politicians into waste-bin; saying if they cannot respect them and their laws, they can respect waste bin, and that sends a strong warning signal to the corrupt politicians in their country to restore dignity into the business of governance. Can that happen in Nigeria, if the citizens that tried that will not receive a live bullet from our security forces?
The truth is that our society will not develop with such attitude on the part of our security forces. In many cases, such attitude has incurred numerous judgment debts to Nigeria government with the bag-longs of damages and compensations to be paid to uncountable Nigerians, which range from accidental discharge, abuse of human rights, force bribery etc, and the government still use the tax payer’s money to settle the debt. In many cases, they appealed and spend more money than necessary to defend what is an undeniable and unquestionable situation, instead of using such money to equip the police and get them the first class training they required.
In other clime, security forces are well-taking-care of, and likewise every other citizen; not to impoverish them in order to take advantage of them to cause the commotion we are seeing in our society. They supposed to be catered for, such that, none of them will be at the mercy of any corrupt politicians to be used or have cause to demand bribe as it has been alleged many times in the past. The untold hardship of some of our security forces has pushed many of them to commit the crimes they were employed to prevent at low and high-level places to the detriment of innocent Nigerians. This situation will be difficult to prevent, as long as our security forces did the bids of the corrupt politicians. For instance, in June 2018 at Ekiti State gubernatorial election campaign in Ado Ekiti, Opeyemi Bamidele was accidentally shot by a policeman and the investigation revealed that the police officer was posted to a Bank in Ikeja, Lagos State and a politician, whose the name was withheld brought him to Ekiti State for notorious assignment, and this is one out of many.
Over the years, some men of the Nigeria Police Force have allowed themselves to be used by corrupt politicians against the innocent citizens; as if we are not Nigerians; or we are not equal before the law as it used to be, or they forget that will become civilians one day? I dare to say that what divides us can equally unit us. If bad governance has succeeded in dividing us over the years, they should also know that the same bad governance can still bring us together in a united force to fight the evils in our communities for a common goal to have a better society, where every citizen will be happy and proud to be a Nigerian.
My advice, when next the citizens are protesting for a good cause, Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies should protect them and not tear-gas them. To have a better Nigeria, it is essential the Security Forces appreciate the need to collaborate with civilians or civil society organizations (CSOs) in tackling developmental challenges. The issues of bad governance, corruption, crimes and all manner of insecurity in our country should be a collective fight and not we versus them. Endeavour to treat other Nigeria citizens and foreigners with respect, and bearing in mind that their services are not only to man but also to God. Equally remember too, that one day, they will leave the uniform or the uniform will leave them.
Finally, the 2019 general election is around the corner, I call on the men of the Nigeria Police Force to depart from partisan politics, and face the business of security and security alone. The 2019 general elections can only be free, fair and credible, if the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Army, Depart of State Security Service (DSS), and other security agencies play their roles according to the rules of engagement. Again I advise, if any of them is interested in politics, he/she should resign and join the political race so we can have a saved and better Nigeria of our dreams.
God bless my fellow civilians, God bless Nigeria Police Force and other security forces, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
OMALE OMACHI SAMUEL
Samuel is of the Centre for Social justice, Abuja.
Tags: Nigeria Police Force