THE POLICE AND THE ‘BLOODY’ CIVILIANS
Each time terrorists strike anywhere in Nigeria, questions have flown freely: Was there prior information? If there was, what was done? Could they have had informants?
The bandits which have recently redefined terrorism in Nigeria have shown that what they run are well-oiled and well-coordinated operations where the logistics of terror embrace many who are forced to play middlemen because of their cowardice.
To answer the questions posed by insecurity, there is always the admonition and even appeal from Nigeria`s security forces for Nigerians to provide information. It is what it should be.
Experience has shown that whenever and wherever crime was beaten back, it was as a result of the joint efforts of all those affected. However, in Nigeria, historical tension between civilians and security forces has never failed to complicate this fight.
For many Nigerians, the phrase ‘the police is your friend’ is up there with everything that is contradictory about Nigeria. Indeed, when in October 2020 unprecedented protests shook the foundations of the country, roaring through Nigeria`s major cities, at the heart of the protests which turned bloody was a cry against the perceived heavy-handedness of a rogue unit within the Nigerian police force. But it was essentially a protest against the police as whole, and against the Nigerian elite perceived to be behind most of the problems convulsing the country.
Before the protests and since the protests ended, relations between Nigerians and the police have been frosty during the best of times. There is sure something to be said in favour of the men and women who are tasked with the unenviable duty of maintaining law and order in a society riddled with crime. However, there is justification for the belief that the police in Nigeria has in its ranks men who should have no business there. Men who because they lack any iota of professionalism and are ruthlessly corrupt should have no business there.
However, it remains lamentable that some men have no iota of respect for the law they should enforce. The result is a relationship that has become more of a burden than a benefit.
As if to court more controversy, the Force Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Police, Olumuyiwa Adejobi was recently reported to have said that no Nigerian has the right to confront policemen or retaliate even if the policeman slaps them. The Force PRO who made his position known through his twitter account rather advised that anyone at the receiving end of such a treatment should consider filing a complaint instead.
Unsurprising, the advice has generated heated debates among Nigerians with many people forced to recall the painful run-ins they have had with the police on numerous occasions.
While there is every need to protect the integrity of those who enforce law and order in a country as lawless as Nigeria, there is a need for restraint. In a country where insecurity and poverty so often cause tension to boil over so easily, Adejobi may rather reserve his advice for men like him who staff Nigeria`s security forces to behave more professionally and courteously when dealing with Nigerians.