The Nigerian Police was recently ranked the worst globally by World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI). The report which was released by the International Police Science Association, IPSA, and the Institute for Economics and Peace, a non-profit organisation that brings together experts, researchers and scholars concerned with security work from all over the world, described the police as lacking the capacity to provide effective internal security.
Expectedly, this rating did not go down well with the police who through its spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, swiftly refuted it, describing the report as “entirely misleading, a clear misrepresentation of facts and figures and essentially unempirical…a clear demonstration of mischief, ignorance and calculated attempt to distort the feat being recorded by the Force in ensuring adequate security and safety of Nigerians” He described the Nigerian Police as the best in Africa.
However, daily activities of Nigeria’s security agencies, especially the police, seem to be confirming the WISPI report. The media (both conventional and social) are daily inundated with stories of human rights abuses by the security agencies.
Few days ago, for instance, three youths of Luebe Community in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, were allegedly killed by men of the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (F-SARS) in Bori. Reports quoting the paramount ruler of the community, Chief Micah Saakara and other eye witnesses, have it that the security agents opened fire on the youths who were on local surveillance and noticed that SARS men were allegedly escorting illegally refined crude oil through their community to Ndoki in Oyigbo LGA of Rivers State.
This is the latest in the series of killings associated with F-SARS in the state.
The dust raised by that incident was yet to settle when we heard a dehumanizing story of a man in Lagos State, Mr Lukman Lambo, who was allegedly beaten up and brutalized by soldiers over a disagreement between the man’s sister and girlfriend of one of the soldiers.
According to the story which was confirmed by the police, after a thorough beating, the man was handcuffed to a motorcycle while one of the soldiers rode the bike and dragged him on the street only to be set free when blood started coming out from his eyes. Not even the pleas of some neighbours and other members of the public could deter the soldiers from the barbaric, inhuman and cruel act.
In fact, cases of brutality and killing by security operatives, especially the police, are so many that some people say the police force has the blood of many innocent souls soiling their hands and making them filthy.
During a phone-in programme on a popular radio station last week, many people called in to narrate their ugly experiences and those of their friends, relatives and acquaintances in the hands of security personnel in the state. It was heart-rending to hear how people were being harassed, intimidated, extorted and abused by people whose raison d’etre is to make the citizenry safe and protected. Many defenseless citizens have been arrested, with their meager resources extorted for offences they are innocent of or sometimes not even aware of.
The worst is that perpetrators of these crimes and human rights abuses are hardly known to be punished. Many, therefore, believe that policemen and other security personnel continue the unlawful elimination of innocent, defenseless citizens because perpetrators of similar crimes in the past went scot-free.
Truly, if the security agents involved in unnecessary killing or molestation of people had been fished out and dealt with according to the law, it would have served as a deterrent to any other blood-thirsty police or military officer ready to unleash his bullets on the citizens for any flimsy reason.
So, government and the hierarchy of the security forces should take urgent steps to put a stop to all these criminalities perpetrated by uniform men in the country. It is not enough to reject the WIPSI report or claim to be the best force in the whole universe. Action should rather speak louder than words. Let the issue of safety of poor, innocent civilians in the hands of trigger happy police, army and other security force be seriously looked into.
Almost all previous Inspectors General of Police professed their readiness to fight corruption and other vices in the force, yet there are little or no changes. Rather, the situation seems to be getting worse by the day.
It then behooves on the current Inspector General of Police and the various military heads to take drastic actions to curtail the excesses of their men and thoroughly sanitize the system. There should be training and reorientation of the policemen and the military especially in the area of civil relationship. They should be made to realise the sacredness of human life and that only God has the power to take life whenever He wishes.
The Army, likewise the Police, is a noble profession and their members, whether in uniform or out of it, are expected to behave in a manner befitting of their training.
It is also important that the welfare of our security personnel be looked into as improved welfare package may make them carry out their responsibilities more diligently and spare the innocent citizen.
By: Calista Ezeaku.