Anyone who visits a Police station in Nigeria would be greeted with an inscription ‘Police is Your Friend’ boldly posted on the wall. But the question remains how friendly are the police, considering the way they treat the people, criminal and non-criminal alike.
Over the years, the Nigerian Police Force, which was established in 1930, has proved that they cannot be trusted when it matters most. The Force came to being during a period the local forces served the regional powers in both the North and Western parts of Nigeria. These local forces were eventually abolished because they were perceived as being poorly trained, corrupt and misused for partisan political ends, including brutalisation of public members.
Apparently, the newly formed Nigeria Police Force was meant to be a reformed unification of local regional forces with the bad ingredients whittled away. Yet, this altruistic aim is far from being attained. Though larger and supposedly modern, the Nigeria Police Force is still arcane, largely uneducated, still poorly trained, extremely corrupt, still serves parochial ends politically, and choose masses brutalisation as a hobby.
The egregious brutality and hostility of the police force brings into question the need for survival tactics in a no man’s jungle called Nigeria, where the populace seem to have no knowledgeable defence against police brutality. Police kill innocent citizens and put tags of armed robbers to cover themselves from the law’s wrath. Innocent Nigerians have paid the price for crimes they never committed. The Nigerian judiciary to date has not been a reliable defender of the people. So, how does one survive police brutality? Is it to run, duck or jump? To date, no method has proven effective to prevent this act. The most pertinent question remains; where then shall one run to? What then should one do to escape the brutality of a sovereign force behaving like an occupying force? What could be done to transform the Nigeria Police Force?
Although, opinion are naturally diverse on the modus operandi of transforming our current liability called Nigeria Police Force. What is not in question is the fact that the force needs urgent restructuring to become a healthy force. With no doubt, the test on their knowledge about the eight (8) chapters and seven schedules of the Nigeria constitution should be a criteria for their employment, and which is capable of eradicating the smells of brutality around them.
The Nigeria Police Force is considered the primary symbol of corruption, administrative inefficiency and state brutality in Nigeria. Bribery is considered as the official language of the uniform; investigative procedures are often dismissed as unreliable; and it is not unusual for armed gangs to claim police patronage.
In all honesty, these ordained beliefs about Nigeria police need to be eradicated, as police activities affect every citizen’s life in the country. But when those that are chosen to safeguard the citizens, are the ones brutalising them based on some frustrating experiences they had in the course of the job, it becomes an issue. But whatever the case, a reasonable person, whose constitutional knowledge is rich would know that everyone has a distinct right in the constitution.
Even if an attempt of ‘privilege’ from the Nigerian Police tries to violate human rights shows up, like a sunny afternoon, as long as Nigerians are well grounded in the knowledge of the constitution, and with the help of an ever ready judiciary, whose interest in establishing justice cannot be traded for ‘diamond’, brutality of police will be gone in the land.
If the citizens are constitutionally grounded in the knowledge of the law, no one can trample on their rights. The ‘ogas’ at the top of government should ensure constitutional study at all stage of learning; for toddlers, crèche, primary level, secondary level, higher institution, and up to service level, so as curb police brutality in the land.