Po­lice, this is the way to go

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Two days ago the Po­lice an­nounced the re­lease of Ma­jor Gen­eral Nel­son Wil­liams (rtd), Deputy High Com­mis­sioner of Sierra Leone in Nige­ria who was kid­napped along the Abuja-Kaduna high­way last Fri­day. Po­lice said his re­lease was achieved through “cred­i­ble in­tel­li­gence and tech­ni­cal sup­port.” The diplo­mat’s kid­nap was very em­bar­rass­ing but the fact that he has been freed alive and in spite of his gru­el­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is a boost to the im­age of Nige­rian laws en­force­ment.

Be­fore the re­lease of the diplo­mat, there were sev­eral in­stances in which the po­lice and other se­cu­rity agen­cies cap­tured kid­nap­pers and per­pe­tra­tors of vi­o­lent crimes. For in­stance, in June the po­lice ar­rested and pa­raded the killers of Colonel Is­mail Inusa of the Army School of In­fantry Corps, Jaji who was ab­ducted on March 27. The sus­pects’ ar­rest was a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment. Also in May, mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence cap­tured the killers of Ma­jor Gen­eral Mo­hammed Shuwa (rtd), the leg­endary Civil War com­man­der who was killed by sus­pected Boko Haram mem­bers on Novem­ber 2, 2012. Fur­ther­more, the po­lice ar­rested three sus­pects in the killing of Madam Brid­get Ag­bahime, 74, in Kano over al­leged blas­phemy. The killing of Madam Brid­get caused up­roar all over the coun­try and it was feared the po­lice could give up on the ar­rest of cul­prits be­cause the crime was com­mit­ted by a mob. How­ever, it turned out that their dili­gent in­ves­ti­ga­tion led to the ar­rest of some sus­pects. In re­spect of the killing of one Methu­dos Em­manuel Ug­wuanyi, 20, in Pan­dog­ari area of Rafi Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Niger State, in May, the Po­lice said it ar­rested 14 sus­pects who are at present un­der­go­ing prose­cu­tion.

These are pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments and they give Nige­ri­ans con­fi­dence that the po­lice have awak­ened from their slum­ber. Be­ing able to cap­ture per­pe­tra­tors of vi­o­lent crimes does the coun­try’s im­age a lot of good and is the ul­ti­mate de­ter­rence to crime. It is bet­ter than re­sort­ing to blamegames and crude stereo­typ­ing, such as ac­cus­ing “Fu­lani herds­men” of at­tacks, blam­ing “Boko Haram” for bomb ex­plo­sions or even blam­ing a “mob” for a killing. Some­times com­mu­ni­ties are ac­cused of not co­op­er­at­ing with the po­lice by fail­ing to ex­pose crim­i­nal el­e­ments; or in en­gag­ing in self­pity by la­ment­ing poor in­fra­struc­ture or poor fund­ing of the Po­lice. For ev­ery crim­i­nal act that is com­mit­ted, there is a per­son or per­sons who did it and the Po­lice should fish out the cul­prits and make them to face the wrath of the law.

We call on all cit­i­zens to col­lab­o­rate with the po­lice by shar­ing in­for­ma­tion that could help in track­ing down crim­i­nals. On its part, the po­lice should de­velop re­la­tion­ships with var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties in ar­eas where kid­nap­ping is preva­lent so that they could earn the con­fi­dence of the peo­ple and en­gage them in the fight against vi­o­lent crimes. For in­stance, it would help if the po­lice could pen­e­trate the ranks of herds­men in sev­eral parts of the coun­try, as they could pro­vide in­tel­li­gence in­for­ma­tion on those of them en­gaged in kid­nap­ping and vi­o­lent crimes. Also, the po­lice should look in­ward and purge them­selves of bad eggs who col­lab­o­rate with crim­i­nals, as it is a pop­u­lar be­lief that no crim­i­nal el­e­ment can sur­vive in his acts for too long un­less he has po­lice cover.

The Po­lice alone may not be able to do the job. The ju­di­ciary must do its part by speed­ily de­cid­ing cases in­volv­ing kid­nap­ping and vi­o­lent crimes so that pun­ish­ment could be meted out to de­ter other in­tend­ing crim­i­nals. Eleven states have passed laws that make kid­nap­ping a cap­i­tal of­fence but partly be­cause ju­di­cial pro­cesses are long and cum­ber­some, not one kid­nap­per has as yet faced the fir­ing squad. The wheels of jus­tice should be speeded up. That, plus the prompt ap­pre­hen­sion of crim­i­nals, is the anti-dote to the up­surge in vi­o­lent crime and kid­nap­pings that we are wit­ness­ing in this age.

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