The men of Nigeria Police Force were once civilians and will later in life turn to civilians, either by retirement, resignation or dismissal. Like the popular saying, whatever goes around comes around. When civilians take to the street to protest an act of injustice done to them, or when they are suppressed, oppressed, or deprived of their fundamental human rights and they try to draw the attention of the authority concerns to their issues, the men of the Nigerian Police Force are often used against the civilians: they tear-gas and dispatch civilians without minding if any of them will get injured or probably die in the cause of justifying their acts. We have several examples of these scenarios.
These days, some men of the Nigeria Police Force now realise that every citizen has the right to protest and press home their demands, and the men of the Police Force can now take to the street to block roads and protest, and nobody obstructs or tear-gas them or spray hot water and pepper on them. Can civilians try that? Then I ask: who will tear-gas police for civilians?
I recall the event that happened 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 social media. But the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja denied that it was not a protest. Let’s agree it was not.
Also, according to the media reports on the November 23, 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.
I am not happy with their situation; neither will I ever encourage such abnormality 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 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 use their guns, which were bought with the tax payer’s money to intimidate the innocent citizens while the bandits will be there somewhere raiding the community at will and you dare not challenge them.
Omale Omachi Samuel,
Centre for Social justice, Abuja