Daily Trust

#ENDSARS protest: What next for the po­lice?

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The Nige­rian Po­lice was a baby prod­uct of the Bri­tish colo­nial rule. That is the ge­n­e­sis of many of the prob­lems that would later be con­fronting it. Just like many of our pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, mod­eled af­ter ei­ther the US or UK, the Nige­rian Po­lice never evolved to take the iden­tity of our own so­ci­ety.

Dur­ing the colo­nial era, the po­lice were only used to make sure the cit­i­zens fall in line in or­der to make it easy to fur­ther the colo­nial ex­ploita­tive rule.

The first thing that ex­plains the psy­che of an av­er­age Nige­rian po­lice­man or woman is the word “force” added to its name. All over the ad­vanced world, you can hardly see the word “force” added to the po­lice name. Many com­men­ta­tors have called the at­ten­tion of the high ranks of Nige­ria Po­lice to it, yet, noth­ing is done to cor­rect it. The ques­tion is, what are they forc­ing and upon whom will they be us­ing their force?

In Bri­tain and the United States, that we take pride in copy­ing every of their mod­els, po­lice­men don’t carry big ri­fles like ours do here. De­spite the fact that the po­lice is well funded and men and women are well-trained, arms are not bran­dished like we do here. I do won­der if we can’t have smart­ly­dressed of­fi­cers with their pis­tols neatly pinned to their waists and their walkie-talkie smartly rest­ing on their shoul­ders. Not that long ri­fles are not used too in these places, but you only see them dur­ing emer­gen­cies and gen­eral oper­a­tions.

Nige­ria’s se­cu­rity is chaotic and highly unor­gan­ised. This is not to down­play the few suc­cesses recorded by many of­fi­cers and men in our var­i­ous se­cu­rity for­ma­tions. The sad truth is that our se­cu­rity sys­tem still op­er­ates ana­logue in the era of dig­i­talised se­cu­rity sys­tems. In most nations now, crime is fought with tech­nol­ogy, tac­tics, ad­vanced in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing sys­tems. Here, it is through force and fire brigade ap­proach.

The cel­e­brated cop, ACP Abba Kyari, was able to get to the no­to­ri­ous kid­nap­per, Evans, be­cause he de­ployed tech­nol­ogy in tail­ing and sub­se­quently ar­rest­ing him. That is how crimes are fought nowa­days. That shows us that we might not even need units like SARS at all and even if we will ever need them, they will be the tip of the ice.

When we were grow­ing up, it was the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment (CID) men, in mufti, that did carry out crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions in po­lice di­vi­sions. How can a na­tion of 200 mil­lion peo­ple not have CCTV in ma­jor towns and cities of her na­tion in the 21st cen­tury? The fund meant for the CCTV of the cap­i­tal city has since been em­bez­zled and no one is be­hind bars for it.

Now, scrap­ping the SARS unit will never stop the tales of abuse and tor­ture. Un­til some fun­da­men­tal things are cor­rected, noth­ing changes. The new SWAT team must be care­fully se­lected and trained well.

Their term of en­gage­ment must also be spelt out. In the South West, in re­cent years, many SARS of­fi­cers have even for­got­ten what it means to be in a shoot-out with real rob­bers. Their prime tar­gets are Ya­hoo-Ya­hoo boys. But that is a ju­ris­dic­tion for the ICPC and EFCC.

While the cor­rup­tion in the po­lice in Nige­ria is en­demic and gen­er­a­tional, hence the dif­fi­culty in end­ing it in a day, the #ENDSARS protest should be an op­por­tu­nity for a long last­ing re­form of our rather mud­dled polic­ing sys­tem.

Ab­du­la­teef Us­man Abio­dun, Ede, Osun State. (com­rade­ces­tcesse@ gmail.com)

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