SIR, I’VE FOR decades been a great sympathiser and avowed campaigner for the Nigeria Police Force, NPF. My position is based on the totality of work performance I see the police personnel do in spite of their handicaps. What I think of the police doesn’t necessarily have to be shared by any other person. After all, nobody thinks for the other. Notwithstanding some disappointing acts now and again, I’m still of the opinion that police personnel deserve more accolades than the knocks they get. I’m not about to capitulate by swelling the rank of those who vehemently and unnecessarily criticise the police. This is because I do know as a reality that the country as a whole hasn’t done enough for the civil force. So, areas of deficiency will unfortunately continue. I don’t know what you think, but what I’ve noticed over the years is that the deficiencies we often complain about the police have to do more with the junior officers. I hope that very soon, there’ll be need to do something urgently in this area. Last April 14, the Good Friday for believers, was a particularly bad Friday for residents of NATA Camp in Apo Mechanic Village in Abuja. A friend who’s also the Assistant Secretary of NATA Camp, Alex Mbielu, has drawn my attention to the startling write-up which Google pushed about Apo Mechanic Village. It’s an appalling and derogatory piece. NATA Camp, as Alex stated, is described as a habitat for the good, the bad and the ugly; Sodom and Gomorrah; place populated by cultists, armed robbers, rapists, criminals, among others. I don’t know what information the police authorities got that led to the raiding and mass arrest which their subordinate officers carried out on the night of April 14, 2017. Suffice it to state that going by various accounts from people who spoke with me, between nine and 12 Hilux Vans were detailed on the raid. Obviously, something serious made the police to assemble at least nine Hilux Vans to carry out an operation in a small community like NATA Camp. Unknown to the community, a certain resident had put an unambiguous distress call for the police authorities to come on a rescue mission. True, many faulted the call but as days passed by, facts began to emerge about what the man who made the distress call saw that compelled him to act. Nevertheless, while the community and leaders of the Fulanis were on peace talks in my house, the crack team of the police officials arrived at about 9pm and arrested me, the vice chairman, the secretary of the community and others old and young. The Fatulanis were also arrested. Not satisfied with the number of persons arrested, the police officers went about the community and arrested many others from their houses. As I’ve been most reliably briefed since our release from detention, the police officers also collected thousands of Naira from some community members and allowed them to go away. The immediate reason why the Fulanis invaded the community was because some persons in the community bought a cow for N10,000 (ten thousand Naira)! Tell me, what cow would be sold for N10,000? Even a day old cow wouldn’t be sold for a ridiculous sum of N10,000! It’s only unreasoning and unreasonable persons who would sell and buy a cow for N10,000! We later saw the cow in question and marvelled. All those involved in the fraudulent transaction must be very wicked. Though a vexatious incident, the community leaders had had a very reasonable discussion with their Fulani counterparts, such that the Fulanis commended the community leadership. Even when the battle ready police officers arrived the chairman’s house, they didn’t hear any raised voices; they didn’t notice any violent behaviour. The calm atmosphere the police officers met should have been enough for them to take away the community leaders and the Fulanis,
if they must still do so, without resorting to any force whatsoever. I’ll not believe that the police officers were asked to use maximum force to get us to the Apo Resettlement Police Station even when we comported themselves. Frankly speaking, the police officers behaved like typical zombies who had no sense of discretion. They bullied us, beat up some and took us away in their waiting Hilux Vans. The police officers tore our clothes before taking us away like common criminals. They also took away some of our telephones which they never returned till now. If I didn’t protest in the presence of many people, I did at least five times, that my telephone set taken from me hadn’t been returned. The officers who came on the assignment clearly acted beyond the mandate given to them. I’m certain that nobody would have asked them to take away telephone sets of the residents without handing them over the police station for later collection by their owners. It’s not only telephones of the residents that are yet to be returned; shoes, slippers and belts are still missing. For me in particular, the loss of the telephone set is inestimable. A Nokia telephone set with a touch light isn’t a sophisticated item, but the contacts and the work it does for me as a journalist remain incalculable. I’ve been cut off from my numerous and important contacts! That small telephone set is one of the priceless items that facilitate my work. The police man who took that phone and refused to return deposit it at the police station did so deliberately. People who collected money from some of their captives and released them can do anything. In all these, I’m greatly thrilled by the disposition of the new Divisional Police Officer. It was only last Saturday after our bail when I’d a chance meeting with Mr Jega, the new DPO. I’d already started talking with him before I knew his office. I couldn’t hide my admiration for him when I was told that I was speaking with the DPO. I’m moved to state right away that with more officers like DPO Jega, the Nigeria Police Force will become the police that we all dream of. Before I met DPO Jega, I’d had interfaced with many other officers of lower ranks, and what I saw was abysmal. It’s a shame that such persons could ever be recruited into the force. They are so uncultured and uncivilised and displayed their rude and cantankerous ways of life. One of such persons is this lady, who, in her ugliness, has become so notorious for general misconduct. Ugly display from such a female police officer should be checked. One other police man took my cap, a 59-year old man, and threw it to the ground! The image of Nigeria Police will keep getting bashed for as long as such persons remain in force. I’ll state now that even when police officers don’t wear their uniform, they should wear name tags so that they can be identified. I’ll tell the full story of my detention in due course. My candid recommendation as one way of improving the image of Nigeria Police Force is a deliberate effort geared towards recruiting only people with a minimum of first degree and equivalent qualifications and paying them commensurate remuneration. That’s not all. Recruitment should also be of people with passion for the job, not dregs like the female personnel who from every indication looks must be frustrated with life and is holding to police job as a last resort.