The police and slaughter slab
My heart bleeds for the Nigeria Police, the most endangered species of government employees in the country. I have been writing and lamenting about the pitiable plight of the Nigeria police for close to 42 years, and the more I write about the police the more hopeless their situation appears. I recall that in 1976 the police in Ogun State were deserting the force in droves. The state commissioner there at that time was Gentleman Chris Omeben. He was alarmed and on prodding admitted to me that the condition of service even at that time was deplorable and very much unattractive and non-conducive to productive enterprise. Last week several police men lost their lives to vicious and daring armed robbers who descended on Offa, probably the second largest town in Kwara State. I understand the robbers had a field day lasting over three hours unchallenged. The police, out-numbered, out-gunned and certainly badly equipped and ill-motivated were no match for the heavily armed marauders. The police in the whole city of Offa were just like sheep tied to the post for sacrifice.
I am aware that the police are not particularly happy with their superior officers upon whom they heap their frustrations. I will help such unfortunate and frustrated police men and women today by making public their curses. It is not their bosses who should be cursed. It is their employers. And I say today that all those who have been responsible for the poor plight of the Nigerian Police men and women should never know peace in their life time. I invoke the powers in the Bible and the Quran which these hypocritical rulers flaunt about that their children, their husbands and their wives should suffer the misfortune of the Nigeria Police! They should be exposed to dangers which the Nigeria Police face day and night at their duty posts. They should look for mercy and find none! And they should be visited with untimely and cruel death as our police are usually confronted with in the hands of murderous criminal elements in the society. We have been crying for Community Policing. We have been begging for decentralisation of the Nigeria Police Force. We asked for a return to local, state and regional police formations as we had in the first republic. But stiff necks who decide the fate of Nigerians would not bulge. We asked for increase in personnel. We demanded better training, better recruitment policy, better and more modern arms, better conditions of service and more conducive atmosphere and more decent accommodation and motivation for the police; all our pleas fell on deaf ears.
Any time you pass by the police on our highways or in dark alleys in cities, towns and villages, their appearance evokes pity. You look at them as animals of prey about to be devoured by armed robbers, kidnappers or ritual killers. Their weapons belong in the Stone Age. They look dejected and impoverished. Their pay packet is pittance.
They look so beggarly and lacking in needed self confidence to combat their attackers. How can Nigeria government think that this country of 193 million citizens can be policed by a miserable 400,000 policemen and women? And to boot, half of that number are engaged in keeping watch over private individuals, companies, banks, hotels and even engaged in boy-boy service to some wealthy individuals in society. Lagos State alone with World Bank estimated population of 25 million people require more than 0.5 million police to keep the state safe. And yet we have more centres of large populations like Ibadan, Kano, Abuja, Oyo, Ile-Ife, Osogbo, Ilesa, Ede, Bida, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Aba, Sagamu, Maiduguri, Abuja, Abeokuta, Ijebu-Igbo, Onitsha and Sokoto to mention a few to contend with. The state governors have no say in the security and safety of the citizens who voted them to power in their respective states.
They are called chief security officers of their various states; but that is only in name. The police in the state are answerable only to the Inspector-General of Police who in turn is answerable to the Czar in Aso Rock, a misnomer peculiar to only Nigeria of all the countries of the world! Let all governors design and decide their state policing and security. And the frequent slaughter of the men and women of the police force does not seem to bother the authorities in Abuja. Police men and women bid their loved ones good bye every morning without any guarantee that they would ever return to the loving embrace of their spouses, mothers and fathers, or sisters and brothers. And those who employ them and ill-equip them tend to forget that a police man has wife or wives, or the police woman has husband and children. All those who take decision or refuse to take decisions about the plight of the police should always remember that these gallant men and women are human beings too.
Let’s face it, but for the huge sacrifices of our police, crime rate in Nigeria would have hit the roofs given the level of mass unemployment, crushing mass poverty, the death of education, the irritating display of shameless opulence by the rogues in our midst, and the godlessness of the Church and Mosque people masquerading as quick-fix messiahs.There are few bad eggs in the police as there are in all facets of the Nigerian life, but by and large the Nigeria police are still about the best and most efficient compatriots in the land. The state has taken advantage of them. They did not share in the alleged Dasuki largesse. They were not indicted in the Boko Haram arms purchase scandal.
They are just there, like donkeys, used and misused, abused and discarded at will. And yet come rain come sunshine, come day and night, come shivering cold and burning sun, the police are there waiting to be devoured by beasts in human skin. Discouraged and unrewarded, the Nigeria police remain the most endangered species on the march to the slaughter slab, unarmed! The Unitary Government we practice must urgently take a hard look at the poor plight of the police and arrest the situation before it is too late.Allowing the military to usurp their constitutional role as evidenced by happenings all over the country especially in the face of the terrorism of armed herdsmen bandits is not the solution. This writer is not unaware that we are actually under a military rule, however disguised; the place of the police can never be taken by the military.
We should quickly go back to the drawing board and those who chose to weaken the police or out rightly kill the police so that the Military can be assigned to carry out political hatchet job should do a rethink. Nigeria is fast gliding into anarchy especially if the police are rendered ineffective and can no longer perform their constitutional responsibilities. And should that be the ulterior design of those who are bedraggling our police, they should at least stop making them sacrificial lambs in the face of armed robbers and kidnappers superior fire power.
The Nigeria Police are human beings too, and as said repeatedly, they have fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and children. And those who are profiting by this unwholesome arrangement, may they never know peace in their private lives, and may their loved ones also be turned into sacrificial lambs just the way our police are routinely gunned down by marauders while on duty. Government must pay handsome compensation to families whose children/husbands/wives/parents have paid the supreme sacrifice while serving their fatherland and protecting the lives of others. That is the least we can do to ensure that their lives were not lost in vain!
• Adeniyi is a veteran journalist and former managing director, Daily Times..
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