To say that the Nigeria Police is a reflection of all that is wrong with the larger Nigerian society will be nothing more than a case of over-stating the obvious. The level of rot, decay and indiscipline in this supposedly law-enforcement body is just too ridiculous; is the Inspector General of police really unaware of the shame that thousands of his officers and men heap on his Force every second of the day?
For the purpose of this essay, I would like to use Surulere in Lagos as a stinking example of the eyesore that the Nigerian police have become. Rather than call it an open secret scenario, I make bold to state that it is known to every Jumoke and Jumaima that our nation has a police force that is peopled by men and women who are sinfully seduced by the trappings of corruption. This is really a highly pathetic situation-men and women who operate under the sinful slogan of "the police is your friend" turning around to rob at gun point members of the public they swore to protect.
In Surulere, Lagos, the police is not your friend. So for starters, the sooner you disabuse your mind of that slanderous suggestion that "the police is your friend", the better for all of us. A drive around this part of Lagos will expose one to the ferocious moral and professional kwashiorkor that is choking our police force. I would be contradicting myself if I say that it is unbelievable the wanton display of professional hooliganism being celebrated at all the police check-points here, it is simply too shocking-to say the least.
I have been here now for a little under three months and I am afraid that my mouth may not be able to say all that my eyes have seen. Men of the Nigerian Police have perfected the art of "road-blocking" for the singular purpose of robbing commercial bus drivers, okada riders and similar hapless road users of their money-hard earned o!
What I find particularly disturbing is the sheer bravado, the brazenness, the stout shamelessness exhibited by our police officers when robbing road users with the guns we the tax payers bought for them. Gone are the days when police officers on check-point duties extorted money from drivers discreetly; it is now an open trade and every commercial bus driver, every okada rider and sundry road users must part with money or risk being sent to the great beyond at the squeeze of the trigger. From my private investigation, okada riders appear to be the worst hit; they continue to pay, and pay, and pay...
And the shamelessness of the police men at all the check points in Surulere brings me to the crux of this essay-the impact of genuine leadership in any setting. While Mr Babatunde Fashola is concentrating cutely on providing effective leadership and quality service to the people of Lagos State, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim calls the shot in an organization that personifies the worst order of incompetence. So, while the amiable governor of Lagos State is having sleepless nights worrying about how to take his state to the next level, the police men and women in his state continues to rob Lagos residents at gun point-and kill those who dare challenge them.
Nigeria under the PDP is really a comic-horror flick, and I find it woefully distasteful. In this era of Boko Haram and their long list of wicked killing and maiming of innocent fellow citizens, I cringe when I recollect that rather than sack the I.G of police, the leadership of this nation actually gave him a national honour! Again, in this period of time when any visitor to Lagos will feel the impact of Mr Fashola's commendable accomplishments in the area of quality projects, the same leadership of Nigeria felt it wise to deny him a national recognition. Well, we all know how worthless those awards have become anyway.
I would be attempting to gloss over the putrefying carcass that represents the activities of the police men vis-├á-vis their notorious check-points in Surulere if I call them a bunch of obnoxious goons. You need to see for yourself the ridicule our police officers bring to their profession here by the criminal way they stop bus drivers and okada riders, and demand for money-N100. This is just too nauseating. The bus drivers and okada riders I interviewed actually apologised to me before asking me, "oga e be like you no dey this country?" According to them, even though they have the correct vehicle registration papers, insurance and all that, the police men will still insist on being "settled", or they delay your vehicle for the whole day. The power of guns!
Sometimes, I wonder why we have compulsive liars in positions of authority in our country; men and women who suddenly find a willing partner in the murky world of lying-for-a-living. While our President continues to regale himself with the evil song of "fuel subsidy removal", the Inspector General of Police continues to blow hot air about running a corruption-free police force. Am I the only chap wondering if these men actually live in Nigeria? I find their logic [or lack of it] exceptionally disturbing. In Nigeria, even the blind folk, the dumb and deaf know for sure that we have a police force that excels in shaming every tenet of a civilized society.
The police in Lagos are really a scary bunch to encounter-Lagosians will inform you that your greatest mistake and disappointment will sprout from going to the police for succour. This is not peculiar to Lagos; the Nigerian Police has a "federal character" face which insures that the evil that they churn out cuts across Nigeria.
It is simply unbelievable the decay that has engulfed our police force-I have had numerous encounters with police men extorting money from road users. One striking thing you notice at each check-point is that the officers manning it reek of alcohol, and the source of the intoxicating liquor is usually close-by. Have you ever wondered why there is usually a local gin seller not far from every police post?
It is really a jungle out here, a classic example of "every man on his own". We have a federal government that is hell-bent on heaping more woes on our already beleaguered psyche, and various state governments being run by people that have a pathological ailment which pushes them to loot public money without any shame, no shame at all. The Nigerian police continues to sees itself [and act it] as an instrument of oppression and coercion. All across Nigeria, innocent lives have been cut short at various police check points for daring to challenge the thieving men in black.
Well, the end seems to be nigh. The level of apathy, scorn and disdain Nigerians feel for the police ought to act as a warning sign to the powers that be in this country. Even though we have a police for that is poorly equipped and trained, it should not be hard for them to discover that Nigerians find them too repulsive. It would amount to sheer foolhardiness for them to continue to think that Nigerians are really too docile to challenge them. The clock is ticking, and ticking fast. But until that time comes when Nigerians will rise up together to say NO to police robbery and brutality, let us all have one thing at the back of our mind-in Surulere, Lagos, police no be your friend o.