Tell any Nigerian ‘the Nigeria Police is your friend’ and you will be bombarded with sighs, hisses, anger, laughter and in some cases threats as they reminisce and reflect upon their past experiences with their ‘friends’. Almost everyone has one bad experience or the other to recount.
A few years ago a close friend of mine Chris went to buy tiles at Orile, and hired a bus to help transport it home. On their way back, the driver decided to carry some passengers, and my friend did not object.
To cut a long story short, one of the passengers who had fallen asleep woke up and on seeing the bus almost empty, dived out of the moving bus. Luckily he was not run over by oncoming vehicles but other drivers thought Chris and his driver were “one chance” armed robbers, so they were taken to the station.
The man who took a dive was brought in and via an interpreter (he’s Hausa) said he was not robbed but thought he was in danger, so he flew out of the bus. Cased closed right, but it’s never that simple with our friends the Nigeria Police Force.
The officers in charge demanded that Chris pay N50,000 bail before he’s released and he refused. So he was charged to court and spent over 6 months in Ikoyi Prisons awaiting trial.
So I was not surprised when on Monday, June 13, 2016, I came across the story of Benue musician INAS (real name
John Inas ) who was arrested on his way home from a video shoot. He was bailed with N20,000.00 and instructed to come the next day to collect his phone because the officer with it was not around.
Only for him to be be rearrested on false charges of murder and armed robbery simply because he persisted on collecting his phone. What I don’t get is why was his phone taken out of the station in the first place? Items collected from those arrested are they not supposed to be registered, filed and kept in the evidence locker?
Then a few days later another story was circulated about a man who was robbed and went to the station to report the robbery but was told to pay N5,000.00 mobilisation fee. He then decided to write a statement instead but was requested to pay for the paper.
Sadly these are not isolated incidences but everyday occurrences which will continue to happen. The problem with the Nigeria Police Force is that they have refused to upgrade from the pre-colonial era of policing, when the British hired illiterates who could not challenge their authority. The officers are well educated while a lot of the recruits can hardly spell their names.
It’s a dumping ground for frustrated individuals whose lack of credentials have blessed them a future so bleak, they decided to enroll for a job which pays cowries compared to the risk and stress involved with it. These ‘empowered frustrated’ people then take out their frustrations on innocent citizens but I do not blame them, I blame the incompetent bosses at the top who have refused to upgrade the recruitment requirements from the pre-colonial days, besides you only get what you pay. If the startup salary was reasonable, reasonable people will apply.
These are the men we entrust our lives with. We expect them to risk their lives for a pittance and act surprised when they take off of their uniforms quickly at the sound of anything that resembles a gunshot. Just tell one of them there are armed robbers operating down the street and watch his pot belly jiggle as he races in the opposite direction. The only time they’re useful is when they’re busy doing the job of Road Safety officials or setting up illegal road blocks.
More than one Inspector General of police has banned checkpoints, yet they keep springing up like weeds and will continue to do so. How do you expect these recruits to meet their needs with a salary of N9,019.42 monthly, if he’s not augmenting it by harassing innocent civilians on the street, it’s just not feasible. It’s also unreasonable for you to expect these same men to befriend their ‘food source’, it’s like saying a street cat should stop eating rats, they’ll starve to death.
The police is not my friend, at least not the ones I interact with. Friends are supposed to look out for each other. Friends do not stab each other in the back. What sort of friend oppresses his said friend simply because he wears a dirty black uniform that’s not been in water for days?
What sort of friend disappears when you need him the most? The police is my friend, never, I reject and rebuke it (as my dear mom would say).