By Sunday Okobi
An organisation, which fights against perceived societal ills and oppression of the masses by those in authority, Brothers Across Nigeria (BAN), has sent a passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to ban the use of mufti by security agents, who are not investigating any crime.
The group argued that such action by policemen and soldiers has caused confusion and vulnerability for the citizenry leading to many deaths.
BAN noted that it is now challenging for Nigerians to differentiate between criminals and policemen or soldiers on casual wears, adding that many citizens have been killed when criminals posed as security operatives.
In a letter written to President Buhari, which was signed and made available to THISDAY by BAN’s Secretary, Mr. Adeyemi Moshood; and the President of the group, Dr. Lewis Atuife, the group stated that: “We are aware that by virtue of the Police Act and Regulations made pursuant to the Act, there is the need for Crime Investigating Officers (CIO) to abstain from wearing regular uniforms of the force which enables them blend into the environment in which they operate. This they do in the course of carrying out investigations and apprehension of criminals. The need for this cannot be overemphasised.
“However, the crux of our appeal is with regards to men and officers of the Police Force who are not on any investigation duties wearing plain clothes and are fully armed. We find them constantly on the highways at checkpoints and also driving about in public. They operate in full public glare and cannot be distinguished from criminals who terrorise the populace.”
BAN, therefore, submitted that “this is counter-productive in the sense that the criminals that the police ought to protect the citizenry from also dress in the same manner and operate the same way. Most times, it is too late for the victims to realise that they are being robbed whilst they had thought that they were in the safe presence of police officers.
There is no way that the government can successfully tackle insecurity in the country if the security personnel cannot be easily distinguished from the criminals.”
The above trend, which is gradually becoming the norm, Atuife noted: “Raises cause for alarm and has contributed to unnecessary hardship, psychological trauma and death of the citizenry.
“Kidnap and robbery victims have often described their abductors and assailants as men dressed in ‘half uniforms’ of the police and military, hence their initial reactions were that they were genuine men of the police or other security forces. These people cannot be positively identified because of lack of name tags.
“When the security forces carry out their activities without any means of verification of their identities, they cannot be traced in the event that an operation goes wrong, and they become ‘unknown soldiers and policemen’, and act with impunity with total disregard to the rules of engagement.”
The group leader, therefore, appealled to President Buhari, saying: “We urge Your Excellency to use your good office to ensure that there is an improvement in the operations of the monitoring teams set up by the Inspector General of the Police (IG).
“We would not end this appeal without acknowledging the efforts of the IG in restoring the public faith in the Police Force; he has indeed done nobly. However, so much still has to be done, and ensuring proper dressing and identification of officers on duty is a step in the right direction.