The last couple of weeks have been marred with spontaneous reactions and protest from various strata of the Nigerian society, particularly the youth. The reason for the protest is simple and well-intentioned. If you had lived in Nigeria and witnessed the level of rascality and impunity displayed by the men in uniform you would agree that the #EndSars protest is not only timely but also fundamentally important in our existence as a nation. In Nigeria, almost all uniformed people are gods in their own right. They drive without number plates, jump traffic, molest, extort, harass and maim anybody who dares to question them.
The Nigerian Policemen have been involved and used in most nefarious and esoteric activities. This ranges from kidnappings, assassinations, and even armed robbery. For instance, a few months ago a 21-year-old man was kidnapped and murdered by some group of Uniformed men. The man named Leo Micah was adopted in the city of Owerri in IMO state Nigeria and killed in one of the neighboring states. It has become a norm for police and other armed uniform people to go around in buses or sienna cars without plate numbers to harass young boys, especially the ones with cars. They unlawfully arrest, detain and tag them, criminals, until a huge amount of money is paid before they are freed.
Aside the youth, other law-abiding citizens are not left out. Police brutality cuts across all segments of activities in Nigeria. Hardly would you see a Nigerian who has not been harassed or extorted by the Police. From minor traffic offenses, land disputes,s, and squabbles among friends and associates. The Nigerian uniform men have been used as objects of intimidation and harassment by the highest bidders in the society. Anybody can be killed by a Nigerian Police officer and nothing will happen. There will be no investigation and prosecution of the culprit as he will most likely be protected by the higher echelon of the Police Force.
On the flip side. The Nigerian police have been reduced to domestic appendages to rich and influential individuals. Almost all rich and average individuals in Nigeria now move around with police attaché thereby depriving the larger populace of the protection that should have been provided by these officers. These rich individuals parade the city with these officers creating panic and fear in the minds of Nigerians. In extreme cases, these attachés officers shoot sporadically during events and social gatherings at the cheering of their principals. In most unfortunate situations, some of their Principals become their victims as in the case of Mr. Ndubuisi Emenike who was allegedly shot by an official of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) attached to him. He was a senatorial candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) for Imo North Senatorial District in the 2019 National Assembly election.
The devilish activities of the Nigerian uniform people and the Police, in particular, can not be contained in a single piece. However, the call for reform is timely, necessary, and critical. Reforming the Nigerian police goes beyond the usual rhetorics and change in nomenclature as announced by the Inspector General Police Mohammed Abubakar Adamu. It requires concerted efforts geared towards proper funding, quality training, transparent recruitment, infrastructure, and the right leadership drive. The decadence in the police force is a reflection of the magnitude of decay in the Nigerian society and a showcasing of the leadership failures of the Nigerian political actors.
Reforming the Nigerian police force has become pertinent and we need to make deliberate efforts to identify areas of mismatch and create an avenue where citizens become part of the police intelligentsia.
There is an urgent need to investigate cases of unlawful arrest and extrajudicial killings among officers. Those found culpable should be prosecuted and made to face the consequences of their actions.