Daily Trust

#ENDSARS protest: What next for the police?


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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