By: Roland Bayode and Damilola Olufemi.
The issue of police brutality has become a matter arising discourse both within states and national level. The atrocious temperament has overgrown becoming an uncontrolled norm coming to be a despised ordinance yet to be implemented in our society. The fundamental dignity of human rights has been subverted with abuse of power and position, consequently leaving the multitudes head unsafe.
The fight against police savagery was jointly heaved out of tension and traction to kick against excessive intimidations and fierce conduct. Over the years, the police themselves have smudged and tinted their pennant with latitudes of corruption, social injustice, bribery, jungle justice, and other forms of vices being perpetrated in their uniform.
Police, constitutionally ought to serve as a shield of protection to the citizens. Instead of doing this, enforcing laws, preventing crimes, conceding to situations, and providing needed supportive services to the people; they slip on the good path and things started falling into fractions.
Conspiracy and their excessive love for money out of sacred absurdity built an unethical temple run of ruses in their heart, this in return make the people no longer have confidence in anyone putting on the police uniform anymore. As far as the majority is concerned, the conventional phraseology that police is your friend has ironically turned out to be a distilled loads of baloney.
Realities and experiences of people over the years have shown that the police have not truly solidified a promising coalition with inhabitants. Oftentimes, police officers depart from their stations and purposefully go out to roadblocks constituting villains through illegal payoff collections, then unconsciously ridiculing the profession.
Some may want to argue that the police engage in undue acts because they lack ample stipend from the government but does this in any way now implies that the proper solution they could proffer is starting to function as bullies instead of making their long-term entreaty known conceivably through peaceful protest or other considerable forms of effusive communicative modes.
Relatively, they oppressed and represent the youths on a suppositional hypothesis that most of them engaged in cybercrime with no data to back claims up. The best method developed by people is often to dance to their tune to make it home in peace.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed” When things were getting out of hand after our people has been well pushed that they reached the last wall, they jointly through protest made an unforgettable history that generations to come will always tell of. This led to their downfall but can the entire police force be whacked out for this?
Based on the clamor for restructuring this despondency, State Policing is now on the measures figured to be implemented. The State Police however has been seen from different perspectives to mean different motives. Nevertheless, its centrality is based on adequate security to end the messy jumble in the police network.
Taking the Yoruba race as a case study, a Community/Regional Police system has been put in place by the South-West Governors to resist inner and outer insecurity within their States. This initiative called ‘Amotekun’ has subsisted since 2020. Several reactions have been raised since it began operation. While some lauds it, some see it as an internal force to browbeat citizens. But so far, the laudable retorts of the initiative has been seen by many people as a way forward.
The Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) codenamed Operation Amotekun (Leopard), is a security outfit based in all the six states of the South Western, Nigeria, liable for curbing insecurity in the province.
Political game of thrones had dispelled things up in Nigeria, but now considering state Governors in full control of the Nigeria police force. The need to predict the end-score is crucially essential.
Mr. Ayokunle Kaspa; a public servant reveals that, it is not tenable to have a dysfunctional centralized police force and that Nigeria cannot prevail under the current unitary structure projected as a federation.
He also deciphered that some Governors operate as dictatorial, and this, in the end, might lead to an oppressive oversight and reign of impunity. “Governors in this country have been operating as monsters. They have obliterated democracy through corruption and repression. Most of them do not have decency or respect for human rights. They will turn State Police into their private militias. If we must have state police, we need to ensure that there are proper safeguards in the constitution to checkmate abuses by Governors.”
As regards the mechanism needed, he divulges that Nigeria is detached from the world of civilized policing in terms of technology and intelligence gathering. “Our police stations do not have writing materials, operational vehicles, and the needed logistics. This has to change.”
On the issue of police remuneration, he infers that states will be ready independently to give support and equip their men with the required ammunition and needed frills that will aid the process.
“I believe States will compete to equip their
police. However, given the financial challenges facing most States, it will be hard for many of them to establish and maintain a modern police system. The many States are practically bankrupt, yet they survive on debts but there has to be a deliberate effort to change the status quo.”
When asked if this new development will be a stop to unbridled issues of fraud, crime, and conspiracy. He reveals that corruption in Nigeria is now a way of life and will not magically vanish because of restructuring.
“If State Police is modeled after the Nigeria Police Force, it will fail. The Nigeria Police has deteriorated. Any attempt to adopt the current police structure will lead to failure and disastrous consequences.”
Another dreadful angle contributing to the downside of the police force is the political system and notable officeholders who have bastardized, personalized, and debauch police officers draining and using them as their bodyguards. Some are indirectly compelled to serve their retired boss, either as their driver or cook. So this begs the question of whether our policemen are constitutionally meant to protect, serve, and secure politicians alone or the common masses.
Mr. Ayokunle concluded that this matter is pathetic as it is now becoming a political gammon and propaganda by and for the police authority. “Successive Inspector Generals have given trivial orders directing the withdrawal of police officers from politicians and VIPs. However, the order has never been acted upon. We have a situation where a large percentage of our police officers are assigned to protect politicians who do not care about the citizens. It is unnerving that the majority of the population are suffering because of the greed of a few.”
A Legal Practitioner and Human Rights Activist; Inihebe Effiong opines that state policing is a lofty ideal. However, his notion remains that Nigeria is not inclined towards it.
As regards the support to aid the progress, he strongly believes all hands will be on deck to make it a huge success if all fears and doubts are cleared. “When there is a will, there is always a way. State Governors are given security vote monthly, such money can be judiciously used to equip them.”
Police stipend according to him shouldn’t be an issue as he is of the view that the anomalies of each state should be deemed before pegging the lowest obtainable salary. “Even with the inception of #18,000 (on paper) minimum wage, most States are struggling to pay it while some are paying far above that. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t expect a Lagos State worker to earn the same salary as an Osun State worker. It is expected that a Lagos State worker will earn more than his/her counterparts from some other States because of the obvious high cost of living in such a city.”
He further added that he foresees a new system that will be void of all forms of shenanigans of the past only if there are discipline and purposeful leadership. "It’s going to be a deviation from the old norms. Whatever is going to happen with the new system is a function of the laws guiding it.
He concluded by expressing that political tactics may likely come in at the end but the solution to this bores down to having a working system that respects no one except the rules of law. “It should be the system telling the leaders and citizens what to do, not the other way round. The just-concluded American Presidential election is an example of a working system where the system dictates to the President, and not the President to the system. If it is working in some other countries, I see it working here.”
While States have been deploying measures to secure their territories from bandits, felons, and men of the underground through what is similar or precisely State Policing, it should be noted that as the call for restructuring is on the high bass, the need to amend the constitution of the country and clearly states the inclusion of the State Police is very important as well.
Violence, ethnic feud, racism, and police brutality are the same old story but different name. If something is not done about the leadership recruitment process and the reformation of the electoral system, there will be no unified change because those who control the police will not allow meaningful reforms since they will not be able to profit anymore from the flawed system. Indeed, nothing will change if the system is not historically changed.