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Nigeria is bleeding, the blood of the innocent has been shed and the Nation-State is on fire. Hearts have been broken and the pandora’s box has been opened wide. The Government at all levels has failed Nigerians. Not only has the Buhari-led APC government woefully failed to live up to its responsibilities, but it has also unleashed police and military might on unarmed innocent Nigerians, the same people they swore under oath to serve and protect. This police might comprises of the roguish police officers under different agesis who are being led by the led by the Nigerian Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu
IGP Adamu who has on numerous occasions, talked about how he is working hard to reform the Nigerian police force has been routinely exposed and called out on his false modus operandi. It is delusional to imagine that the current Inspector-General of Police can reform the Nigeria Police. The IGP is a product of the rotten, depraved, psychopathic, corrupt and anti-people police force which the departed colonialists had purposely created for the subjugation of the people to the will of foreign predators, and was eventually bequeathed to independent Nigeria in all its pristine essence.
Unfortunately, independent Nigeria has done nothing for six decades to reform and refine the Nigerian police, to turn it into a force for the good of the society, for detecting and preventing crimes, for protecting and serving the people, as all modern and civilized police do. All that previous Inspectors General of Police in the Fourth Republic did was to hoodwink Nigerians by the pretence that they would make the police conform to the tenor of democratic governance with its emphasis on rights guaranteed by the constitution by simply repackaging the same bad product
Truth is, the Nigeria Police had no integrity right from its formation in Lagos in the early 1860s and throughout the colonial period and in the 60 years of our independence. It was established as an oppressive instrument in the hands of the managers of the colonial state and has remained so in the hands of their post-colonial successors. Police corruption, criminality and reckless impunity, including a penchant for extra-judicial killings of Nigerians, are not without the knowledge of the police hierarchy, but that for them it is ‘a culture, an institutionalised way of life’ they have grown accustomed to. They have grown and matured in it, and have thus become desensitized to the evils the police perpetrate.
The Nigerian police is incapable of being reformed from within because it is irredeemably corrupt and too far gone down the road to perdition to be reformed; its personnel are trained, indoctrinated, inducted and socialised into corruption as a normal way of life. The daily extortion and oppression of Nigerians are done with such arbitrariness and alarming impunity they could only have been sanctioned by the State.
How can an Inspector General of Police, who has served in the institutionally and spiritually corrupt organisation for more than three decades, benefitted maximally from it and has risen to the highest rank, be expected to see his way to doing anything beyond mere tokenism and playing to the galley? Which is exactly what previous IGPs under this democratic dispensation did: deodorised a rotten, stinky national police!
Putting it bluntly, the disbandment of SARS which is by the way still fully operational is not a function of this government’s or the IGP’s honest intent to reform the police, it is a consequence of force majeure. The massive street protests across the nation, supported by similar protests in major capitals of the world embarrassed the government which compelled the disbanding of the toxic SARS officers ‘on paper’. In the absence of genuine intention, no thorough and meaningful reforms can be carried out by the IGP, and not by this government that had for years gratuitously ignored popular aspirations and grievances until its hands were forced.
That is why the IGP’s announcement of the immediate replacement of SARS with SWAT is hasty, precipitate, impulsive, whimsical and designed to play to the gallery. Aside from copying it from America where such units exist, what is the rationale, planning and arrangements that have gone into that decision? His explanation that members of the disbanded SARS would not be absorbed into the new SWAT fails to address the institutionalised corruption and impunity that have characterized the Nigeria Police.
Merely replacing SARS with SWAT misses the crucial point that Nigerians need a thoroughly refurbished police, with new training, orientation and indoctrination that the IGP alone cannot accomplish by his tentative and presumptuous moves designed to assuage current anger.
Extortion, intimidation and harassment of innocent citizens, impunity, extrajudicial murders are not limited to SARS alone but pervasive in the police force. Other regular policemen also have POS for extorting Nigerians; in police stations across the nation, bail is not free, an official declaration to the contrary notwithstanding; arbitrary arrests for extortionate purposes remain rife; illegal roadblocks are mounted not to provide security or check crimes. State police commissioners, Area Commanders and DPOs are in the know, and even police officers allege they make returns of their extortion to the appropriate quarters. If not, why then has it remained difficult for IGs, state police commissioners, area commanders and DPOs to enforce discipline and compliance with official orders against illegal roadblocks and other criminal behaviour within the force?
To add salt to injury, these so-called disbanded SARS officials are still in operation in many Southern states. They have been spotted in their signature plain clothes, wielding their deadly AK-47 rifles while extorting and bullying innocent civilians.
The fact that this is still going on under the IGP’s nose shows that he is in the know. This is why he has to be summoned to face the National Assembly interrogatory panel to reveal why these SARS officials are still in full operation.
The best solution for this cankerworm called the Nigerian police is to initiate a holistic, comprehensive, dispassionate, honest and transparent overhaul of the existing force; proper training and reorientation along with established international best practices for its personnel. This is completely beyond the ken of the Inspector General of Police alone. It requires careful study and rewriting of the training manual and curriculum, training in human relations, law and human rights, periodic psychological and psychiatric evaluations, the involvement of the relevant civil society organisations and human rights bodies in assessing and evaluating police behaviour and performance, setting up an impartial unit outside the force command structure for monitoring general police conduct and especially when actions involve shootings, injury and death to civilians, among others.
These are definitely not what the IGP, acting alone and using the tainted and compromised personnel of the force, can do. It is clearly more than an in-house job.
If the government is honest enough and ready to do the needful it will set up a high-level panel of well-meaning Nigerians, experts in policing and police studies, lawyers, civil society organisations, international experts and consultants, to redesign the force, its training, uniforms and types of equipment, procedures and practices. In the final analysis, all this will require commitment, adequate funding for barracks, offices, the right equipment, and other necessary things. Unfortunately, this government can’t be trusted to do the needful unless its hands are forced.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK