OPINION | The Nigeria Policing Challenge: Need for a Holistic Reformation, By Clement Uwayah

October 18, 2020

This is why the Nigeria Police is totally different. It is faced with two sides of unfavorable dispositions. The structure is very bad and it is also operating in a society that has criminality taken to high levels.

The Nigerian Policing system has so much deteriorated and at it’s very low. They have constituted themselves as ‘licensed criminals’. Instead of protecting the citizens for whom they are created, they have reduced themselves to be the people’s oppressors.

All manners of force and/ or subtities are employed by them to extort the citizens, whelter rich or poor. It would even appear that the poor are mostly oppressed, as daily experienced. How can one explain their daily harrasments and extortions from transporters, especially Keke and bus drivers?

While it remains necessary to point out that there are a good number of police officers whose integrity has remained intact, it however remains an invonceilable fact that the level of decadence in the force is unspeakable and with respect to all sections. There is nothing that involves the police that does not go with extortion.

The ongoing protests to end SARS, as fantastic as it seems may not achieve a long lasting solution. From the moment it started, it was my personal opinion that it wasn’t what the solution should be. I hinted that we may be compounding societal problems by a solution that is not holistic and myy opinion was based on the historical antecedents of the purported disbandments in the past.

Come to think of it, is there no root cause of every problem?. Why has the Nigeria Policing system failed to live up to expectation? Why has it turned out to be an organ of government that protects only government officials and oppresses the citizens? Why have they so brazenly embraced oppression, repression, brutality and all sorts of recklessness without fear of any consequences? Is the police above the law, or couldn’t it’s unprofessionality have been premised upon constraining variables?

Truth is: the Nigeria Police is absolutely shortchanged, made incapable of functioning without raising monies from the public and thereby constituted as an unofficial revenue agency for themselves.

Whelter there is provision that gets diverted is another thing entirely, but as long as such provisions do not go down to who and where it is needed, it means there is a shortchange. How does one expect a police to function in absolute lacks? Is he expected to fuel his patrol vehicle? What of the repairs?  What provisions are on ground to ease his work in such a manner that he could cope without resort to helps or extortion from the people he is policing?

What is the salary of the members of the Nigeria Police Force whose work is a very risky one? What are his allowances for the inconveniences that are associated with his work?

How is he kitted and how often is it changed? Where is the housing for their family? What is the state of the barracks they live in? Which school is catering for his children? What is their life insurance like? What is his package like when he exits service?

Above questions when answered would give us another mindset to the fact that we need total reformation of the system and not just calling for an end to a particular unit. Which section is angelised to guarantee a non reoccurrence of what we seek to end? How does it sound that a police man risks his life, chases armed men or other suspected criminals (economic or financial), apprehends them, brings them to the station, hands them over for prosecution only to discover that they have been released.

That’s the reality that precipitated the self-serving, brutal and reckless attitude that became the style of the police in general and SARS in particular. Can commendations and promotions come from catching criminals that only end up being freed from the powers that be?

What we need is total reformation. Give the police a very attractive salary and allowances. Give the police a decent housing/ accommodation and create a condusive working environment for the police such that there will be no room for them to resort to self help concerning materials. Fund their vehicles’ fueling and repairs. Give necessary life insurances because the lives of their job is risky.

Also kit them properly and make them appear very human. Reinvent the old Criminal Investigation Department (CID)system we use to know. Make life pleasant for the offers, they are not second class citizens or less knowledgeable persons.

They too deserve decent life at all times. Make the police a sought after job by giving them better conditions. And then, put very strict measures to drastically reduce, if not eliminate all forms of criminal tendencies.

What the government failed to do was always being sort from and  forced on the innocent citizens and this is very bad and unacceptable in it’s entirety. There is no law that forbids the police man from good life, but it must not be through extortions, brutality and recklessness. Their onslaught on the citizens in the name of Yahoo boys or whatsoever is not acceptable. The incensant checks on their phones is a breach of their rights of privacy.

They also failed to understand Western influence in our dressing and thereby unnecessarily tag most youths unjustly. That is where the campaign to EndSARS and police brutality is very commendable. But beyond that we should be calling for a total and holistic reformation.

Everything that would assure a better life for the police needs be put in place to keep their minds and eyes off criminal acts but keep them on monitoring crimes, criminality and criminals.

*Uwayah is a political activist and social crusader

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