Nigeria Police Force is an arm of the law enforcement agency that is charged with the constitutional responsibility and power to arrest offender(s), to prevent commission of an offence, to investigate matters, to search etc. It is therefore disheartening, disappointing and embarrassing to see the same organ that has been mandated to protect lives and property to now turn out to be the same that is destroying the lives and property of the same people that they are expected to protect; the same people who are the tax payers from where the police salaries are paid, and from where the government gets the fund to equip the police force.
Sometime in 2004, in Benin City, Edo State, an armed policeman attached to a convoy shot and killed a bus conductor, and when the reality of what he did dawned on him, he shot sporadically into the air and escaped being lynched by the angry mob. He was however later apprehended, arrested and prosecuted. But the bottom line is that, the dead is already dead.
Recently, in Abuja, an armed police corporal, shot and killed his girlfriend and a police inspector before shooting himself just because the said girlfriend, a recharge card seller, told him that she is no longer interested in him, but in the inspector. Again, both men (the inspector and the corporal) are said to be married with children. This is disgusting, disgraceful and a big embarrassment to the Nigeria Police Force.
Away from the recent happening, sometime in Sometime in 2012, a policeman in Michika, Adamawa State, shot three of his colleagues, killing one. The incident was confirmed by the Adamawa State Police Command, which said that the policeman fled after the shooting in a police station. The fleeing policeman was also shot to death when he refused to turn himself in. The then spokesperson for the Command, Ibrahim Muhammad, said the shooting was carried out by the policeman after a “sudden change of behaviour.”
Again, sometime in June 2005 the police murdered five young male traders and a female student (the ‘Apo six’) in Abuja. Several years after the ‘Apo 6’ killing, not a great deal has changed.
In January 2013 the then Inspector General of Police, MD Abubakar- then acting IGP, admitted publicly that the ‘police is corrupt and it commits extrajudicial killings.’ He lamented that the image of the force has degenerated to the lowest levels as policemen are mired in corruption and their stations and checkpoints have turned into ‘bribery collection points’. He singled out the police special anti-robbery squads, SARS, as having become killer teams recklessly engaging in extrajudicial killings. He said; ‘Our police stations, state CID’s and offices have become business centres and collection points for rendering returns from all kinds of squads and teams set up for the benefit of superior officers’. ‘Our Special Anti-Robbery Squads, SARS, have become killer teams engaging in deals for land speculators and debts collection…’ Hmmmmmm. Very interesting?
On May 27, 2013 a final year student of the University of Benin, Ibrahim Momodu was allegedly shot dead by the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Mrs. Carol Afegbai of Ogida Police Station, Edo State, and other members of her patrol team. Helloooooo? What is the result of the investigation? The deceased, Ibrahim Momodu, was alleged to have attempted to shoot at the police, but autopsy report revealed that he was shot on the back and the bullet ripped through his heart.
When 20-year-old sales girl, Lucy Ukpong, left her home on October 12 for work at a photography shop in Apo, Abuja, little did she know that it would be ‘a journey of no return’. A stray bullet fired by a policeman on ‘illegal duty’ in the area sent her to an early grave. Three other people sustained gunshot injuries when the policemen, who were from the FCT Police Command, fired bullets indiscriminately to scare residents that tried to resist the move to enforce an ‘illegal’ demolition order on a private plot of land. Lucy was hit in the chest and was rushed to Garki Hospital where she was confirmed dead on arrival. The deceased left behind a daughter, her parents and siblings. Late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, in one of his albums said; “…them leave sorrows tears and blood, dem regular trade mark…”
Again, sometime in September 13, 2013, a commercial driver was allegedly killed by a police officer in Iperu Remo, Ogun State, for hitting a police patrol van. Perhaps the dead driver was mistaken for a suicide bomber. What is the result of the investigation of the police authorities?
On Monday, 28 July 2008, the Nigerian Tribune reported the killing of a commuter bus driver who failed to pay a policeman at a check-point the required N50 settlement fee. The driver, the paper stated, fell down while trying to flee, but the police chased, caught up with him, and hit his chin on the ground. He sustained a head injury that later led to his death.
The list of casualties owing to the spate of police killings seems to be growing on a daily basis.
In 2009, Amnesty International reported that hundreds each year are killed by Nigeria’s police force, or disappear while in police custody. Few police officers are held accountable for these crimes. In most cases, there is no investigation into the deaths of those in custody, of the several extrajudicial executions or enforced disappearances…..’ But what are some of the factors that predispose the police to brutality and violence?
However, public opinion has blamed the poor prosecution of errant officers for these carefree manners of use of firearms by some policemen. Some say the fact that policemen do not get constant trainings in the use of firearms is another reason to consider.
Also, a highly centralised police structure plagued by political interference; a compromised recruitment process and poor police training, leading to the hiring of unsuitable and sometimes, mentally unstable personnel; Poor salaries, thereby making the police prone to corruption and other crimes, including violence; the killing of police officers in their hundreds or even thousands every year, by insurgents, armed robbers, and other hardened criminals, may in part also explain their behaviour and their attitude to the public; poor working conditions for the police, unhealthy environments, long working hours and inadequate housing, etc and many others, are the likely factors that may account for the questionable and embarrassing behaviour of some members of the police force.
Must we allow this evil to continue?
From the foregoing, the big question now, is; how safe are the members of the public in the midst of armed security agents, especially the police?
The Nigeria police force should therefore begin to work out pragmatic ways of re-orientating its members and also work out ways of identifying those whose psycho risk factors are high and a threat to the society. Every of their members that are carrying arms, should be thoroughly examined to ensure that he is psychologically sound to handle the equipment and he should be made to understand the risk involved in the handling of such arm.