OPINION: Nigerian Police Force: An Institution in Disarray – by Ogunjimi James Taiwo @hullerj

OPINION: Nigerian Police Force: An Institution in Disarray – by Ogunjimi James Taiwo @hullerj “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”Abraham Lincoln Sometimes we are left to wonder what exactly is the relevance of the Nigerian Police in our society. In fact, the slogan, “THE POLICE IS YOUR FRIEND” has lost its meaning. Nigerians find it difficult to report crime to the Police because they don’t trust the criminals not to have ‘informants’ among the police. Others are afraid to challenge the police for fear of having incriminating things placed in their bags or possession. It is indeed a fact that many people are in jail today because the Police planted incriminating evidence on them; people have had gun placed in their hands and then beaten until they confess to being robbers. There have been times when robbers are terrorising an area and when the police are called, they show up long after the robbers have left or give excuses of flat tire or no fuel. The police today concern themselves with monitoring the activities of internet fraudsters(yahoo boys), and whenever they catch one of them, they share the money, 70:30 or even 60:40. There have been instances when robbers are apprehended and the guns and ammunitions found on them can actually be traced to the NPF. The question then is, Are they still relevant? Or have they outlived their relevance? There are so many reasons that can be given for the decline of the Nigerian police over the years. But the most important one that I can see is that the reason why people join the Nigerian Police Force is faulty right from the onset. People join the police today as a last resort. Others join because of the pecuniary gains they are sure to get from the illegal arrests they make, the roadside extortion, and bail money they collect from ignorant people. Today, we have half-baked police officers who galivant about without even knowing the law they are supposed to uphold. I have seen a policeman carrying a gun that he didn’t know how to operate. The police constitute nuisance in the society when in fact they should be the ones curbing the spread of crime. I have seen policemen fighting themselves on the road. I have seen policemen wearing dunlop slippers on duty. There was an instance when I was traveling from port-harcourt to Lagos, and the driver of the car i was in was man-handled for blocking the movement of vehicles. He was taken to the ‘police station’ and the DPO of the station was a woman. At first i refused to believe she was the DPO, because she didn’t act it. I saw her sitting outside with lipstick on the table, strands of hair flying around, while she was trying to plait her hair: all in the office. Asides that, behind the ‘station’ was a motel made with wood. Obviously, our DPO was operating a prostitute ring under the cover of her job as DPO using girls whose ages could not be more than 20 years. How she rose to that position, i don’t know. But one thing is certain; something is wrong with our Police force. The police force should concern itself with checking crime and enforcing peace and order in the society, unfortunately we have people whose first impulse on hearing robbers approach is to take to their heels. We have people who have established a long string of distrust that they can no longer be trusted. We have people who are only trained in brutality without having a knowledge of the honor that exists in being an upholder of the law. We have people who see violence as the only way to get information out of an offender. We have people who violate the rights of the people they swore to protect.

‘The police force should concern itself with checking crime and enforcing peace and order in the society’

There is the need for a reevaluation of the Police force. Nigerians should be made to decide if or not they can feel the impact of the NPF positively. There should be a cleansing procedure to rid the NPF of bad eggs. The standard set for accepting people into NPF should be raised to ensure only capable people are employed. There should be a general re-orientation in the NPF to ensure that the policemen know the rights they are supposed to help uphold, know the crimes they are supposed to help fight, understand the law they are to maintain, and regain the confidence of the people they are supposed to protect. God bless Nigeria. Ogunjimi James Taiwo Twitter: @hullerj



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