Nigeria Matters

Police Brutality and Youthful Violence: Scourge Of An Orderly Society

Any human attitude, action or inaction that holds the existence of the human race into threat is a serious one, and no doubt, is worth considering. For it is by considering it, debating on it, putting forward solution and implementing them rightly that the essence of living is realized; for the fulfillment of one’s divine purpose on earth. This captures the aim of this feature.

Wherever the word violence is mentioned, the thought of man’s inhumanity to his kind is evoked. Live and let live, goes a maxim. Our world of today betrays this clarion call. The human nature, of a somewhat bestial quality, has entangled man in process of asking questions, thinking new ways, weaving out ways to recompense man’s bestiality to his kind, curb inhumanity and maintain order.

In a feat of rage, a brother beats his younger one when the latter seems to be outsmarting him in an argument. A thug snatches handset at gunpoint, terrifying his innocent prey with a slap. Students go on protests, vandalizing school properties, their own style of showing grievance over maladministration, cultist clashes and activities stare the world in the face, a phenomenon which you and I have thought about, dropped, only to brood over again.

In these subtle analogies, perpetrators of these evils seem to fall under the youth bracket. This is not unconnected to the fact that at one’s youth, one is infused with quest, zeal and urge which due to some reasons have been transmuted into a violent activity.

The history of violence has two underlying issues which justify this feature. The biblical story of Cain and Abel, the bothers who sacrificed to the almighty God, is the earliest record of violence. Cain killed his brother Abel because the latter’s sacrifice impressed God than his. Both Cain and Abel were in their youths, point one. The second point is a question raised in the discourse between God and Cain when the latter had perpetrated his evil act.

“Then the Lord said to Cain ,”where is Abel your brother?” HE (Cain )said “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9)

Cain’s question to god – am I my brother’s keeper? – displays the extent to which man could deny his kind. Today, being one’s brother’s keeper is a matter raising concern for all and sundry. Otherwise being one’s brother’s keeper is an augury of the world’s ruin.

Odeleye Adeyemi(not real names) was admitted into the University of Ado Ekiti in 2004. He was strutting around, for at last, his dream of getting higher education was becoming a reality his fulfilled man hit the rock when he got destabilized b the rate at which armed robbers (student robbers) haunt their hostels. Today he hears a nearby hostel was robbed, that students who had nothing to give were badly injured. Tomorrow another hostel. The situation persisted for so long that he took solace in relocating to Ado Ekit metropolis where to him “there’s no bush, there’s much security and better infrastructure.

His friends advised him against such. “In ado ekiti township, cultists activities are rampant, armed robbery is even fiercer!” he turned deaf ears to their stupid advices. He was soon to find out this knowledge when the story in ado ekiti appeared tougher than that of his previous locale. He could not stroll around say 6pm upward for cultists could snatched his phone, he could be bullied, he could also be hurled into police van by desperate police in search of criminals. He had to trudge on with this kind of life.

That same year that he got admission, the internet was spreading its tentacle of influence into the Nigerian world where standard of living is poor, where economic impoverishment haunts the citizens. To salvage their plights out of this economic mess, student began their crazy and violent road to easy wealth by involving in indecent internet transactions which fetched easy money. Youths lurk in internet cafes trying to hustle out their ways from poverty. Today the yahoo yahoo conundrum has grown to an unbearable pitch, soaring high and soiling the reputation of Nigeria. This aside other form of youthful vices.

What must we do to curb this arrant disregard for the law? how do we stem the tide of youthful violence and crime, the government and the Nigerian police could have asked. Today they seem to have been reconciled to this motto-be cleansed or be cleansed off, a phenomenon which we now refer to as police brutality.

Police brutality in Nigeria is a case of betrayal of ideal. A lawful process of curbing crime should not be unlawful in its dealing with suspects. In the Nigerian world, we have heard aphorisms such as fire-for-fire, operation sweep, crush, checkmate. Which were betrayed by the manner the Nigerian police tried to implement the truth inherent in this phrases.

Today we have anti crime patrol, Special Anti-Rbbery Squad (sars) the latter which student of the University Of Ado Ekiti Unad call sars has attracted attention lately topping the chart of crime discourse in ado ekiti city, where 20 percent of the 31100students of the University of Ado Ekiti reside.

Sars is a group of horrible looking police, clad in khaki clothes, their heads festooned with bandanas like the opc. they plunge their sorrowful ways into any street through a clean white van. They carry an air that informed violence for violence, their guns stretched forth in hurried haste. A close contact with them when their van screeches to halt to arrest “criminals” displays the extent to which alcohol, cigarette could smear one’s hearts to be shut against humane feeling. This is evident in the away they bully students, hurl them into their sorrowful van. They really are no mercy set of people as campus life gathered a minimum of n10000 naira is a the ransom for bail should one be arrested , whether innocent or otherwise. punishment if merciless and unyielding would stem the tide of youthful crime ,sars seem to live under this harsh conclusion. For the past one year their militancy has led students to recounting one sordid tale and another. Here is that of dayo, a student of economics in unad.

“I ran into SARS last month and I was hurriedly hurled into their van. They said they knew I was a cultist and that I should not utter a word. In trying to defend myself, one of them hit me with the butt of his gun which sent a pang of pain into me. On getting to their barrack, I saw students, about forty, enclosed in a tight enclosure which could ordinarily not have contained 20 people. I was asked to pay N10000 but I begged that I was innocent and that I had no money which they refused to listen to. If not for one of them who came later, whom I had helped sometimes ago, I might have rotted in their den

Another experience is that of Erinfolami Olasunkanmi, a student – leader in the University of Ado Ekiti

“Last week Sunday I was in my room when SARS screeched to a halt beside our hostel and they came in. they asked all of us to come out and they demanded our status. The rest, except me said we were students. They asked me who I was and I said I was a student leader. They said I should go but hounded the rest into their van. They were high as their mouth reeked of liquor. I asked them our offence but they said I should not worry. One of us who was inside the toilet when they came was slapped, saying he was hiding from them. I tried my best to inform some personalities in town to come to their aid to no avail. The students arrested were asked to bring money for bail, As they did not have, they were detained. An elderly statesmen intervened latter which saved the situation.

The UNAD SUG SOCIAL DIRECTOR ABIOLA ISSAC who has had course to visit their barrack to see their purpose as that of making money. Hear him|:

“I see them (SARS) as a group of people who specialize in illegal arrest and detention of the student folk to make money. I have had cause to go to their barrack to bail students. I must say the treatment meted to them is unpalatable. I remember an experience where I went to bail a particular student who was arrested right in from of his hostel while making call. SARS had concluded he was a cultist and even forced him to write fictitious statement of things he never did, under threat. Their cased is serious, he said.

November 28, 2007, five students of the University Of Adoekiti: Idowu Animashaun, Tosin Ibironke, Afolalu Adeyinka, Dele Olaleye and Ademola Adepoju were killed by the police for attempting to break out of the cell after being arrested on charge of armed robbery. The case of these students is being challenged by a father of one of the deceased. Campus life heard that they were buried by the police with neither the consent of the UNAD management nor their parents. Incidentally it was also alleged that a post mortem was not carried out. Though the police denied all these, in shooting five students below the knee; the fact that none survived even after they were said to have been rushed immediately to the hospital, raises doubt. The case is still in court.

A week ago, this writer was in an internet café when a passer-by passed a note of warning that SARS were around and that he should be careful. “What. I’m doing my thing legitimately, this writer had replied. The concerned friend only shook his head in pity, informing something as “doing your thing legitimately? This SARS people doesn’t mind your innocence.”

A week, prior to this, an internet café in Ado Ekiti was paraded and the customers hounded off. Today the café is yet to be reopened as customers fear a possible case of arrest.

If the student’s contact with the police is when the latter bullies him, haunts him around, extorts money from him, slaps him, hurls him into the sorrowful van, how on earth is that student expected to be loyal to such police. Today-police brutality and youthful violence- have attracted series of discussion calling for a stop.

The Ag Vc Of Unad, Prof Kolawole said that students should embrace intellectual militancy and not violence. Intellectual militancy embraces acting within the ambit of the law to drive home one’s point. In curbing cultism, to Kolawole, students should be courageous enough to give out information that will arrest the horrible activities of cultists which is causing problem for people everyday. “if you have concrete evidence about any cultist(you know them) come to us and we assure you that we would look into it. By doing otherwise, you are not helping the situation.

A student-leader , Akinjobi Olamide Samuel of the Faculty of Arts Unad ,while reacting to this topic believes that implantation of morality into our system via the smallest social group-family- would do more to curb youthful violence. “Train a child the way he should go when he grows up, he wont depart from it, he said.. He believes that government can curb youth violence not through the uncultured, merciless, “illegal” attitude of SARS , but by humane means . “It is a sad thing that the Nigerian situation has warranted a kind of atmosphere in which those who are protectors of the law have turned into lawbreakers,” he regrets.

The Commissioner of Police in Ekiti State, Yomi Onasile (not sure of the name), should listen carefully to hear the footstep of ants. By being observant, he should learn to control his men if the latter is going against the law. Students are rightly informed that most of these horrible cases of encroachment of citizen’s rights do not get to him. His effectiveness as the chief of ekiti state police can be achieved when his men eschew from their violent ways at curbing crime, so that people can believe that the police is their friend, as is always claimed.

Let me then go to the earlier mentioned question-am I my brother’s keeper? Why not? The restiveness of the human soul can be mitigated when we reverse Cain’s question to the affirmative- I am my brother’s keeper! When this is sown into the human soul and thought, then it would be difficult to harm one’s kind.

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