To Serve With Integrity…

by Odimegwu Onwumere

Following the controversial allegation of loot leveled against the elsewhile Inspector General of Police (IG), Tafa Balogun in 2005, which paved way for IG Sunday Gabriel Ehindero, one of the statements or promises Ehindero made to Nigerians was that the police under him would ‘serve with integrity’. In many states police vehicles with the inscriptions: “Operation-Flush”, “Operation-Sweep”, “Operation-Wipe”, “Operation-Storm” were cleaned, and Nigerians looked forward to seeing and receiving a new breed of police in the system that are not tainted to the marrow.

But nothing seems to have changed in the spurious police system. Is the police not still collecting N20 on our highways and narrow-ways? One astonishing scenario is that there are now breed of police who mount on the road, park their vehicles by the side of the road, do not collect N20 as usual, but every commercial buses plying that road must park, and the motor mate runs to pay the police ‘cashier’ in the vehicle huge sum, while other police on the road wave down other coming or going vehicles. If the motor mate has denominations of money above the stipulated money the police collect, the ‘cashier’ would give him change and collect his money, no matter the denomination of the money.

In some police stations, if there were any prize won for dirt, they would win. Apart from the aggressive police attitude on civilians when they are visited, one is assaulted by the stinking odour from their dilapidated buildings and eyesore environments. The test-of-time surviving fans, upholsteries are better for the trash-bin. Internet looks like history, and fax machines and computers hardly exist. What about the few battered patrol vans that have lost their mirrors and windscreens? They are good for the museum. Talking about congestion? It is an everyday thing! Drinking, smoking, womanizing, and amongst other hazard behaviours are unrepentable norms practiced within the stations.

A lot of people say that police are responsible people but it is the nature of their job that make them look irresponsible – fraudulent and vile. Others say that the makeshift banks they position on the road, the money that are paid into them, they use it to feed their families since they are paid stipend. But if that is the case, problems are not farfetched among Nigerians. For example, are youths not roaming the streets without job?

One baffling aspect of the police conducts is that some of them are happy-trigger and they kill at will and coerce motorists to pay bribe, instead of protecting the society that was kept in their custody with integrity.

But if Nigerians should house taking bribe and kill at will simply because they are paid stipend as some people claim to be the reason police take bribe, then would Nigeria be governable?

There is no police that didn’t know that the force poorly pays before joining the force, but maybe, to be partners-in-crime is the reason they join, and even pay huge sum of money to be recruited.

Imagine where a police recruit pays between N60.00 and above to get into the force! One is not talking about the deduction of their take-home that is reduced to nothing. Some even borrow to be recruited.

Police go through four stages of training: parade, barton exercise, riot drill and weapon handling, but how competent are they? Could this not be the reason they find it difficult most time to face first-degree armed robbers or quell riots or handle weapon?

Albeit without the police, anarchy in the polity will be on the increase. But just like the axiom goes thus: Before you remove the speck in your brother’s eyes you have to remove yours first. Police should remove the messy attitudes surrounding them. And they should stop treating the common Nigerian who dread them like the apocalyptic beast wearing the mark 666.

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