ENDSARS: Are we fair to the Nigerian Police? By Isah Ismaila Gagarawa
In the words of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malam, “law Enforcement Agencies saddled with the responsibility at the risk of their lives of bringing criminality to justice must also be considered. It is indeed a no-one-way traffic affair whereby you consider one interest in exclusivity has been over and above the national interest component of it”.
The aftermath of the #ENDSARS Protest which was subsequently hijacked by ‘unknown hoodlums’, and resulted in the vandalization of property, loss of lives of police, and looting, has prompted me to pen these few words.
It could be recalled that another Phase of the #ENDSARS campaign started as a peaceful protest early this October in Lagos, Abuja (before other states joined). It was a movement to bring an end to the incessant brutality by some officials of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Citizens and Non-governmental Organizations, particularly Amnesty International, had accused officers of the department for orchestrating illegal and wanton arrests, which has led to the detainment, torture, and extortion of citizens and their relatives.
Some weeks later, hoodlums hijacked the peaceful protest in Abuja and Lagos Respectively leaving people injured and properties vandalized.
However, in other for state governments to avert charlatans from plunging the country into a state of anarchy, they posed curfew. Lagos and Edo were first to take the swift action which later turned into an avenue to extrajudicially kill, burn, vandalize government and private lives and properties.
The Indian independence movement leader, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind”. Painfully, some ‘innocent’ police officers paid the supreme price with death from the hands of hoodlums and mobs during the protest.
Reports available shows that twenty-two (22) police personnel were extra-judicially killed by some rampaging protesters and scores injured during the protests. Some were burnt beyond recognition another was beheaded (Inspector John Oche).
Some of the injured personnel are probably in life-threatening situations at the hospitals. Also, Two hundred and five (205) Police stations and formations including other critical private and public infrastructure were also damaged.
Even though some police officers engage in acts aimed at disturbing the peace and lives of innocent citizens, the pertinent question to ask, Is this vengeance, and has it solved the problem? What about their kids, wives, and family?
A piece circulating on WhatsApp by an anonymous police officer titled lamentations of Policemen, states that police have been dying & losing their lives in the course of serving their fatherland but it is unimaginable that their colleagues would be murdered gruesomely, burnt, or brazenly beheaded because they’re Police Officers.
Another officer also stated that painful as it is, nobody is talking about it. No television station, radio station, or print media is talking about it. People are only talking ‘selfishly’ about police stations that were burnt, property looted and the fictitious ‘Lekki Massacre’.
Some also expressed concerns on how civil society and Human Rights groups have not even condemned the barbaric act perpetrated by mobs or at least provide justifiable reasons for the attack on officers.
Notwithstanding, it is important I end with these questions for us to ponder on: Are we fair to the police? Why is no one talking about the atrocities committed on them? How about their families? How do we expect them to continue to provide security to us without stations and personnel with Christmas celebrations around the corner?
However, it is important that those who are involved in the dehumanized and demonized act on the Nigeria Police must be brought to book. Also, those ‘bad eggs’ within the force trying to cripple the efforts of the force to maintain true professionalism in the discharge of its duties, should be prosecuted and dismissed.
May the lives of all those lost in this struggle rest in peace.
Gagarawa is a staff writer with PRNigeria and can be reached via [email protected]