Opinion: Dear President Buhari, the Nigerian Police is a monster; confront it

by Akintoye Abdulraheem

Police work is noble work. I begin with this important concession. Those who risk their lives to protect our lives and property, and who ensure the preservation of law and order deserve our respect. But even as one grants this important concession, one is constrained to quickly add that the noble institution has metamorphosed into an ignoble monster.

On highways and within our cities, the police has become no better than an organized gang of armed robbers. Armed with guns bought with tax payer’s money, they terrorize us every day. If I have not spoken plainly enough, this is what I mean: Police men and women openly ask for bribes. It is a sorry sight. They do more than just ask for bribes, they terrorize us into giving them money we do not have.

I write this under the assumption that my President is unaware of this rampant practice in the land. But your ignorance, sir, of a phenomenon that negatively affects our lives every single day is already a devastating indictment.

The Police is not your friend. The average Nigerian knows this. The Police is a vital part of our criminal justice system. But how can we have justice in a system with a Police force that reeks of insane corruption? How can we have justice, when the very guardians of law and order have no respect whatsoever for the law and due process?

One notes the President’s stand on purging the Judiciary of corrupt elements. One salutes the President for identifying and attempting to solve a problem, even if one disagrees fundamentally with the style and process that the executive has adopted in its crusade against corruption. There is no organization more urgently in need of a purge than the Nigeria Police Force. The President cannot claim to hate corruption without confronting this horrible monster.

I call attention, here, to another major sin of the Police: torture. Suspects are tortured by the Police, especially where they are poor. This is a sickening reality that should send shivers down our spines. If you get wrongly accused of an offence today and get arrested by the Police, the likelihood of your getting tortured is extremely high.

The Nigerian Police is generally incapable of investigating any offence. Their tactic is usually to beat confessions out of accused persons. How can this be? Is Police work not supposed to require some intelligence? Some nuance? Some tact? Some principle?

I live in fear of the Police. All rational Nigerians should, too. That institution is long overdue for a radical purging. Our Police Force is symptomatic of all that is wrong with Nigeria: disorderly, incompetent, inhumane, and reeking of corruption. I am hoping that the President can arrest this cancer, but I am not holding my breath.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Akintoye Abdulraheem is a Nigerian lawyer. He writes from Ilorin, Kwara State. He tweets @dbestsmiles.


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