Nigerian Police officers are not “spirits”
Nigeria Police Force is dying, officers are losing morale and Nigerians (both the rich and poor) are the ones killing it. It is very hard to defend a police officer and not end up in shame but I truly confess to you all that we still have good men in the force and we (Nigerians) are the promoters of the bad men.
Many people have truly suffered greatly in the hands of police. Every household has a story of police oppression and brutality. Either through extortion, misuse of arms and ammunitions, extra-judicial killings and many others, we all have become direct or indirect victims. The inability of police to tackle serious crimes like armed robbery, banditry and others has not helped the situation too. Police response to emergency is not only low but have proven to be a mockery of professionalism. A situation whereby criminals would have left the scene of crime and residents of the area would be harassed and tortured to fit in the playbook of the police is dominating and quite unfortunate.
But have we ever pondered on why Nigeria policemen are always rated the best in any peacekeeping mission? Why do our police officers perform excellently and brilliantly outside the shores of Nigeria? Why do our police officers display great vigor and strength in joint operations with other forces? The answer is not far fetched. You can not show your best when Nigeria happens to you.
Most police stations are in sorry state. They have no functioning toilets and lack basic amenities. Most vehicles are not in good shape. Some vehicles need to be pushed before they can work and these are vehicles we expect them to use in chasing criminals. Politicians and rich criminals in decoration of philantropists have taken over the duty of government. They build fence and sink boreholes for police stations. These rich criminals are the new builders and renovators of our police stations, making the leadership of these stations to be at their mercies. They easily control them and roll out commands they dare not defy.
Barely five weeks ago, some mobile police officers in Maiduguri and Katsina threatened to start killing their bosses over 7-month unpaid allowances. They complained bitterly of starvation, hunger and extreme poverty. These frustrated and hungry people in uniform represent the large scale of the force. If the people we give arms and ammunitions are not well fed or capable of making ends meet, how would they secure the society including the vulnerables?
Besides the visible poverty rocking the police force and the politics of big stomachs top officials play which has made it so hard for the force to experience any developmental change, there are little, old, insufficient and substandard weapons in police armories across the country.
In a peace-keeping mission, there are always excess arms and ammunitions for security operatives to use. They are well protected and there is a provision for all essential materials needed to win. They do not leave their officers hungry and dejected neither do they leave the relatives of the dead ones to their fates.
Police officers are humans not spirits. They have wives, husbands, children, fathers and mothers. They deserve a better working environment and efficient weapons to fight crimes. They should not be carelessly exposed to criminals who are in possession of dangerous weapons with intention to kill and destroy. They should be catered for and rightly empowered to secure the state.
As we blame police officers over low morale, greed and gross incompetency, we must always remember that they are humans not spirits. They are police officers who need weapons and essential tools to work not miracle workers.
Lawal Sodiq Adewale (Apagunpote Olayimika Chocomilo) writes from Osogbo, the capital of Osun State.