N. F. Kenure
Nigerian youths have been hollering this hashtag in recent months, and as usual they have been screaming into the void.
The Special Anti-robbery squad (SARS) in particular has been the focus of pushback from Nigerians. While there are few stories of bravery from this branch of our security forces, the stories are overshadowed by torrents of malfeasance.
The Nigerian police force is at best pitiful, this is the sad truth. Men and women charged with the security of the land who have no idea what the laws of the land are. Uneducated, inadequately trained, and worst of all scorned by all. They in turn reward our contempt with a brutal highhandedness. Tales of harassment, battery, illegal confinements, made up charges, blackmail, extortion and shootings by the men in black are not new. In recent times, it seems like there is a new audacity to their scorn. The trending video of the policeman who destroys a student’s phone because he cannot afford this luxury after years of hard work is a sad indictment of the Nigerian proletariat. There is no light at the end of the long tunnel for labourers of all sorts and as their angst boils over, the “elite” will pay. There’s been a massive outcry because of the casual killing of Kolade Johnson on the 31st of March as he watched a Premier League football match, and twenty year old Ada Ifeanyi on Saturday April 14th. In response, there have been calls for active physical retaliation.
SARS and the police force in general are not the problem, Nigeria is. But the deaf ear by every level of government to the menace that is the single policeman, ready to use his weapon, at the slightest, is telling. Why is the weapon of service for the average cop on the streets an Ak47? Why is the police so ill-equipped in every sense of the word?
There have been no significant upgrades in the last fifty or more years, systematic or otherwise. They might very well still be colonial stooges, trained to quieten the locals with brute force.
Like every other sector in Nigeria, the police is in dire need of help. The Nigerian police Academy recruits from the dregs of our society, the academy has no infrastructure, except for the luxury cars and patrol vehicles gifted to them by politicians like clockwork. What are the plans for a concrete database of criminals? Is anyone thinking about the introduction of scientific methodologies to solving crimes? Are there any psychological assessments for recruits and policemen as their careers takes a toll on them? What are the benefits and reward systems in place for people who believe in service and are true to the demands of their position? The Police should be a service filled with dignity recognised by all. They deserve and need better pay. The requirements to get into the academy and the force, ought to be stringent and based solely on merit. The academy itself should be run all the way to university-level education, with at least a basic four year course and then some specialisations. Ascension up the ranks should not be political or tribal. These are all basic templates that can be applied to law enforcement operations in Nigeria. The country is not required to reinvent the wheel. And yet, here we are in 2019 asking that the government save us from the police.
Apr 15, 2019