By Uzodinma Nwaogbe
|Policemen became spectators as #EndSARS protesters occupy the main gate of the National Assembly, Abuja…yesterday|
A peaceful protest by Nigerian youths was hijacked by some unscrupulous elements in the society. The police allegedly played a dirty role by sponsoring and ferrying thugs to the protest ground of these peaceful protesters. The police did not realize they were planting what could also consume them at the end, and it indeed boomeranged. A peaceful protest/march by some persons to attract the attention of the government is a legitimate right that, the police as an institution with the license to maintain law and order must endeavour not only to allow but, provide protection for the protesters and disallow infiltrators.
The usual approach of the police in civil disobedience is to suppress peaceful protesters without respect to our laws. Every now and then, representatives of government, security agencies do not want the governed to air their views on social, economic, and political matters affecting them.
Much as we condemn the hoodlums for havoc they wrecked in the last few days, we must not fail to also condemn the police for the role they played in attacking and sponsoring thugs to attack the peaceful protesters. We must also not forget the dastardly acts some members of the police have done in the name of fighting crime which ostensibly led to the #EndSars campaign that snowballed into the destruction of lives and property. Let us not forget that the call for the scrapping of SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) began in 2017 because of their numerous evils without any action taken by the government other than mere public statements, apologies. The government and police hierarchy must do a thorough surgical operation on its men and officers, their modes of operation to curb this unnecessary brutalization and waste of lives.
When the police are fighting crime we are aware of and commend them for the good work. But, we can quickly distinguish between the criminality of some of the bad eggs amongst them. They have committed heinous crimes over the years with nobody, no power, no institution calling them to order until the youths took to the streets in protest. So, we are all culpable.
How many known and unknown souls have they killed since the coming of SARS in 1992? Are those souls not humans? What has the state or police authorities done to curb their excesses? How many of these men are under interrogation or punishment for this inhumanity? In like manner, we also remember those unsung heroes of the Police, men, and women who, despite being part of an institution that has the worst salary, welfare package, work condition, treated like a pariah by government, reputation for corruption and ineptitude usually seen in our public system, yet they serve with bravery, not minding the dangers to their lives.
Right now, what is needed is the building confidence between the police and the people. The Police, Community Relations introduced by the first pragmatic Lagos State Police Spokesperson, Alozie Ogugbuaja, must be strongly re-organised for effectiveness and efficiency. This forum should be empowered by the Inspector General of Police to be strong, functioning in all police formations and communities across the country. Community and Police relationship must be restored for effective policing.
The police must be well kitted with uniforms and gadgets, and not look like ragtag anymore. Their salaries and welfare, housing condition, health, retirement benefits should be adjusted upwards to bring out the best in their services. The recruitment, training, and re-training of men and officers must be seriously approached by the government. Police is a noble profession that requires humane, intelligent, honest people to be involved in. The government must invest in our security forces to serve the people better.
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