Nigeria Matters

Of Melaye’s Ijogbono and the Nigerian Police’s Custom

“In a civilized society, nobody is above the law”

Melaye, a Senator representing Kogi West and of course our Instagram Senator – who is sick in the hospital but healthy on Facebook and Twitter, had been the centre of discourse for many forums and platforms. He was arrested by the Nigerian police for allegedly possessing, in an illicit manner, armours and artillery. He was also accused of sponsoring some perceived miscreants who distort public peace and wreak havoc in Kogi State and its environs.

Mr Dino – the crooner of (Ajekun Iya ni Oje) – was placed on the wanted list of the police but he had been dodging summon. The Sahara Reporters exposed how Uncle Dino vamoosed from the country in an attempt to thwart his summon by the police. Unfortunately, the saying of the elders that every day is for the thief and one day is for the owner caught upon him. He was caught red-handed on his way to Morocco. I wrote in (Nigeria and the unending drama in her hallowed chamber) that attempt to arrest him was greeted with doggedness and “omotarism.” He, in fact, jumped out of a vehicle on motion. This compounded his problem as he was also charged with attempted suicide. Lolz, Niger Police, I hail thee! Shon sirs!

As usual, Nigerians will always have their says if not their ways on every burning issues going on in the country. Mixed reactions had followed suit this comic scenario. Some are of the view that Dino’s cloth was only cut according to his size. While others chided the police for their actions so far. I am not here to support any view, either the formal or the latter. What I just want to note unequivocally is that Nigerian police officers are known for their brutal handling of and disrepute for alleged suspects and non-suspects alike. So, it is no news that Mr Dino – the embattled Senator who uttered this gutter word: (I will rape you, impregnate you and nothing will happen) – was treated harshly by them. It is not the first and of course may not be the last. Abi beeko?

Part of their culture is that immediately you are caught as a suspect by them, then you command no respect again. You will be treated as if you were a die-hard criminal. You will be made to sit on the floor no matter the level of your academic qualifications and religious status. You will sleep in that dirty thing called jail.

Mallam Sanni Kay Yusuf narrated a scenario in one of his beautiful epistles entitled (Nigerian Police: Friends or Foes?) on the disregard for fundamental human rights by and brutality of the Nigerian police. Though we are still impatiently anticipating the second part of the article! He relayed how an Imam was arrested on no logical and lawful basis. Come and see bashings from right, left and corner in the comment section where a vast amount of people were also narrating their ordeals occasioned by these black-clothed men. The act of brutality is a typical custom of the Nigerian police. And this is due to the fact that “a lot” of them are either half-baked or not educated at all. How do you then expect one who is ignorant of the law to follow due process?

I can also remember vividly, the interesting story narrated by my elder brother in Ilorin. He said he was going “jejely” along one of the Ilorin roads with another elder brother after closing from shop for the day. Unexpectedly, these black-clothed men came, parked their car by their side and the next thing was enter! What have we done? quizzed the gentle man. Why are you walking in the night? retorted the police. But it is not 12 o’clock yet now, responded the gentle man. Shut up! Who are you? the police said angrily. So unlucky for the police, (yours faithfully)’s grandfather, of blessed memory, used to be a retired police officer. Then my brother picked up his phone confidently as someone who doesn’t have skeleton in his cupboard would do and made a call. Hello sir, “Awon olopa ti mu wa oooo”. “Kilese,” what did you do? They said we are walking in the night. Is it 12 o’clock yet. No sir, after 10. Give the phone to them. “This is Mr …………..” Shon sir! Shon sir! We don’t know they are your boys ooooo! My brother even said the policemen took them closer to home that particular day. What would have been their fate if they had nobody to call? These are the supposed friends of the people!

I think Mr Dino had just been exposed to what commoners face in the hands of the Nigerian police. I don’t really know of a country where police officers now have access to people’s ATM card than Nigeria. One’s mobile phone meant for privacy would be requested by the police on no reasonable ground. This is absolute absurdity! Dressing in a corporate manner now translates to being a yahoo boy to Nigerian police.

The Nigerian police are not well trained in handling suspects. Uncle Dino’s case is still a tip of the iceberg. He has not been tortured, injured nor maimed. Having known our police for their way of life, why should Dino’s case catch us unawares? Why the outcry as if life was about to end. The masses have been decrying the excesses of the Nigerian police yet no backup by the bigwigs. Is this now the right time for them to shout and rant when their colleague had been shown just a little out of the numberless brutalities done to the masses?

When a journalist working for the Independent was illegally detained by the DSS for exercising his freedom of expression, which of them spearheaded the movement for his freedom? Absolutely none! So why the ululation now? What is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Not until the bigwigs too join hands together with we the masses in bewailing the excesses of the police when either of the party is affected, we will continue to be ruthlessly maltreated by them.

Still fresh in our memories is how a business man was threatened by some irresponsible policemen to withdraw money from his bank account for them along Okota road. Thousands of millions of Nigerians face brutality in the hands of the police. Therefore, Dino being maltreated by the police is no news in the first place. It does not worth gaining the front page of our newspapers. In fact, our bigwigs use policemen to abuse the masses. I read briefly on Facebook how one supposed “honourable,” Wole Oke employed policemen in detaining Olu Bayo, an activist, on no other ground than craving for good governance. Cases of how top government officials use the police to cajole fellow activists in Ilorin are innumerable. Why the show of shame and playing the victims when the Nigerian police made a U-turn and bounced back on them?

It is typical of our political elite to always score public sympathy when caught in their dirty game by appearing as if they were sick. How somebody who was fit enough to jump out of the SARS vehicle is now lying on the sick bed for days is unfathomable and indescribable. Baba Sagay noted that Nigerian politicians will always loot the public funds and engage in other mischiefs in sound health but when caught, they will develop a chronic sickness suddenly. Is that how sickness jump on people? Olisah Metuh, this lady, Alinson Madueke and some others did the same thing.

In short, if the bigwigs cannot always support the masses when oppressed by the police, they should therefore always keep quiet when what goes around comes around. In fact, most of them should be treated in a like manner, perhaps, they will give it a rethink before looting public funds and demonstrating arrogance of power. In a civilised society, nobody is above the law and everyone is treated equally. In all, the police is your friend. I rest my case!

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