State Police Vs the Rest of Us

by Isidore Emeka Uzoatu

The recent ‘abduction’ or otherwise of Madu Onuorah, the MD of Abuja-based Global Upfront Newspapers has once more raised the recurrent issue of the establishment of state police commands. Like can be seen, all our forces from the army to the navy, through to the air force, police and civil defence, never fail to occasionally overstep their clearly-stated boundaries. And all at the expense of the citizens whom they are supposed to be protecting.

Well, though the unmusical sound of Onuorah’s debacle may have abated, the dust raised by the unethical embarrassment will surely linger.

What with the way and manner the unrehearsed heist was conducted. Like reported in the terse releases that broke it, the perpetrators of the act did not help matters. With no warrants to brandish, let alone present, they red-eyed operatives did not only take the law into their hands. They broke it – and unrepentantly too.

Viewed however, taking a man away from his house in front of his wife and children – sans an order of a court of competent jurisdiction – is condemnable. Put straight, it makes it appear as though the concerned policemen enacted it just because they were armed with guns bought with our tax money. Also, they must have been wearing uniforms also so funded, and well after going to training schools also bankrolled by the masses.

In fact, this recurring decimal has become the bane of our police the country over. According to an early respondent to the travesty, it amounts to nothing else but sheer gangsterism. A development that is fast going out of hand the rest of the civilised over. Family and business disputes that would have prompted roundtable talks are instead used as a subterfuge for unwarranted arrests. All in search of an avenue to attract huge bail bonds that ought to have been granted for gratis by the law. That is after the initial deposit that must have guaranteed the operation.

Otherwise considered the civilian arm of our armed forces, the police are often caught pants down abusing the privileges they are supposed to uphold. Thank God for the enhancement afforded civilian journalism by digital telephony. Not a day passes nowadays with one or two of them caught on camera embarrassing their fellow citizens. Most recently, one was filmed struggling for the steering wheel with an Uber driver.

This development has had Nigerians wondering where they will run to for protection. What with the army, navy and air force up to the hilt in engagement with maintaining the status quo of our internal territorial integrity. No thanks to the many insurgents tugging at the edges of our nation. Up north, down south and in-between, there is hardly any space of our nation that is not riddled with turbulence.

Resilient to the core, most Nigerians have since turned into the leaders of their own vice squads. Like once upon a wag in town put it, we now end up running our individual water corporations, power houses, sanitation agencies as well as armed forces. Outdoors is now veered at the risk of a mug while indoors we go to beds with both eyes open. Meanwhile one must pay one’s taxes as and when due.

The most worrisome has become the fact that we are not safe even in our homes. Yes! Just a spurious petition by an otherwise deranged antagonist and you are driven hundreds of kilometres against your will to explain yourself. It becomes all the more worrisome because the order for this would have been given by an officer on whom the nation must have expended a gargantuan amount of our commonwealth to train.

Crossly, dorsally or anyhow wise, all this will amount to is an indictment of the police. Yet, looked at properly, it all boils down to the action or inaction of just one office or official. Back in the days when Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) still held away at the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), it was his recommendation that all backed the police. Advising in a coda that whosoever demurred should try dealing with thugs instead.

This is most penitent because this could easily be construed as a blanket condemnation of the force. Which it is not. Admitting that will carry the implication of a condemnation of all the salient work being carried out by the Police Service Commission (PSC), for instance. Presently headed by none other than Solomon Arase, a retired Inspector General, they have even drawn swords with serving officers and men bringing the force to disrepute.

Thus it beats the imagination that a group of policemen from anywhere will enter a foreign territory to make an arrest without consulting the local police authorities. Yet this comes to pass now and again under the nose of the supervisors. Like happened in the present in particular. A police team, apparently armed to the teeth, heads to Abuja from wherever to arrest a harmless journalist.

Though unthinkable, this keeps happening within the country. Here in Onitsha, even plainclothes officers are ever on the rampage arresting businessmen left, right and centre. And this without the knowledge of their DPOs. Meanwhile some of the latter complicitly undertake operations without their territory with no brows raised. Not by their area or zonal commands, let alone commissioner stationed in faraway Awka the state capital.

Like yet another reporter averred, Onuorah’s case is definitely different. Yes, on account of his weight and height in his peculiar profession. Raising the question of what would have happened were he of the elusive common man category of yore. Whom NTA’s Frank Olize journeyed the entire country in search of to no avail. Any wonder the story is rife of people locked away incommunicado in police stations past the statutory days. Not to mention those awaiting trial in correction centres.

However, all said and done, it’s not too late for the handlers of the country to beam their searchlights on this aromatic sore on the facade of our democratic evolution. We cannot continue renewing our hopes when a child, man or woman, cannot be spared even a doubt’s benefit while carrying out the responsibilities thrust on him by society. And nowhere else does this call attention to than the recent calls for the establishment of state police forces.

—— Image: WikimediaImages Pixabay

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