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Opinion

Taming Endless Police Brutality

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By Alex Enemanna

The sever torture of suspects has almost become synonymous with the mention of Nigeria Police (Force) for as far back as one can remember. The culture instead of abating has continued to assume a more dangerous dimension even with the increasing campaign for respect to human dignity and right globally. Nigeria Police has continually been at the forefront in attracting a global knock for the country with its avowed crude method of conducting investigation. The institution is a visible clog on the wheel of progress in our effort to usher a new era in human right protection.

The signs that Nigeria Police is fixated with unleashing terror on the people they were trained and empowered to protect are too glaring. This is even as men of underworld on daily basis perpetrate their nefarious activities across the country unchallenged, driving fear in the minds of innocent citizens, causing them to live in panic and uncertainty. The people are now left with unanswered question of who is on their side between the two camps.

Expectedly, Nigerians took to the social media to vent their displeasure over the extreme torture meted to five of their fellow countrymen by men of Rivers state Police command late last year. According to reports, the five men Chima Ikwunado, Ifeanyi Onyekwere, Victor Ogbonna and two others were thrown behind bars on the suspicion of car theft. They were for days subjected to routine torture, all in a desperate effort to harvest “confessional statement” from the accused to cover their perennial inefficiency. Hungry and exhausted, wounded and brutally tormented, one of the victims, Chima Ikwunado could not live to narrate his ordeal in the hands of Luciferic seeds masquerading as security agents. His spirit left and his body became corpse. Four of the victims who by divine providence survived were hurriedly taken to court for “prosecution”. Even though the concocted charges against them may have been quashed, the scars in their bodies will for a long time remain a sour taste, a sad reminder of a bitter encounter with their country’s foremost security organization.

Without any scintilla of doubt, it is safe to say that many of similar ugly experiences go on across the country unreported. Citizens live in helplessness while the very essence of their humanity is being brazenly derided. It is a common practice for men of the Nigeria Police to swoop on citizens, whisk them away, extort, abuse and humiliate them without any iota of provocation. They do this with all sense of impunity and utter disregard to standard operation procedure and in a way that portrays Nigeria as a banana republic. Only the rich are entitled to fundamental human rights while the common man is an object to test the virility of our security agencies in the discharge of their duties.

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Still fresh in our memory is the inglorious shooting of six traders in Apo, Abuja by officers of the Nigeria Police in 2005. Popularly called “Apo 6”, one would have assumed that the global outrage generated by the incident would be a magic wand towards reforming the police for an effective civil relation. Sadly, the orgy of harassment and unfair treatment of hapless citizens has become a norm in the police community. They leave citizens with cursive and uncharitable words against them at every encounter.

The ongoing End SARS campaign is a reflection of confidence loss among citizens in this unit of the Nigeria Police. They operate as a law unto themselves, disregarding any known policing code. As the name, Special Anti Robbery Squad implies, elementary understanding teaches they should get themselves preoccupied with fishing out and giving bloody nose to criminal elements among us in a bid to guarantee security and safety of innocent citizens. The Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which provides that a suspect shall not be arrested unless he is first informed of the reason for the arrest is being observed in the breach by the police. Section 8 of the ACJA also prohibits any form of torture or inhumane treatment of the suspect. Whether these are observed is a question our citizens who on daily basis come in contact with the police have answers to. The allegation of bribery and extortion against SARS will be a discussion for another day.

Like the family of Chima Ikwunado, many families have had their breadwinners sent to early graves on the account of unprofessional and overzealousness of policemen. How can we forget in a hurry the shooting and eventual death of citizen Kolade Johnson in Mangoro area of Lagos by one Inspector Ogunyemi Olalekan in an attempt by men of Special Anti Cultism Squad (SACS) of Nigeria Police to arrest a man because of his dreadlocks? How about a youth corps member with Channels TV, Precious Owolabi who was brutally killed by a policeman during a protest by members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Abuja last year?

According to a report published by Amnesty International in 2016, Nigeria Police unit set up to combat violent crimes has instead been systematically been torturing detainees in its custody as a means of extracting confessions and lucrative bribes. “A police unit created to protect the people has instead become a danger to society, torturing its victims with complete impunity while fomenting a toxic climate of fear and corruption” said Damian Ugwu, Amnesty International’s Nigeria researcher.

“SARS officers are getting rich through their brutality. In Nigeria, it seems that torture is a lucrative business” the report added.

While other countries are moving with a jet speed in protection of right of their citizens, Nigeria must not afford to lag behind. The top hierarchy of the police must move beyond the lips service and commence a proper orientation and re-orientation of the officers and men to march up with the global standard of policing. Adequate profiling of those to be recruited into the force must be thoroughly carried out to reduce incidences of employing monstrous elements to protect the people.

No doubt the Force is making significant efforts in providing security to the people. All Nigerians are grateful for this. The activities of some bad eggs in the system however have brought shame to the institution of police.

Lastly, justice must be served any officer who thinks citizens’ and residents’ right to life and dignity should be flouted at will. This will serve as deterrent to intending offenders.

Opinion

The North And Vanity Of Power

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By Charles Ogbu

Northern Nigeria is a tragic paradox. A walking contradiction, I mean.

For over 40 years, the North has ruled Nigeria and controlled every aspect of her national life. The current President of Nigeria is from the North and virtually every security agencies in Nigeria including the paramilitary ones are in the hands of Northerners. Yet, almost half of the North is firmly in the hands of terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements operating under different names. Both our Army Chief, Defence minister and even the Commander-In-Chief now need to be escorted by almost the entire Nigerian armed forces before they visit their home towns all in the North. As I type, some of the bodies of dozenS of people butchered by bandits Friday evening in President Buhari’s own home state of Katsina are yet to be interred.

Charles Ogbu

Charles Ogbu

All the revenue generating agencies in the country from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) etc are manned by Northerners. The richest man in Africa is from the North. Yet, according to a recent report released by World Bank, 87% of Nigerians living in poverty are in the North.

Beyond poverty and insecurity, the North boasts of having the highest number of out-of-school children estimated at 12 million by a UN report. The worst case of infant and maternal mortality in Nigeria is in the North. The worst case of illiteracy and drug abuse is in the North. It is also in the North that the highest number of unemployed and unemployable youths are found.

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This raises the question: What exactly has the Northern elites done for the North with all the long years they’ve controlled political power in the country? Of what use is power if you cannot use it to change the fortune of your people?

In the midst of all these internal contradictions, why do Northern youths still seem to worship their political elites as some god instead of seeing and treating them as the real authors of their misfortune? Why do Northern youths only care about helping their elites acquire political power without deploying that same energy towards making sure they use that power in a way it will benefit the average Northerner?

Funny enough, despite the consensus on the nothingness that is the Buhari regime and the entire North becoming a hotbed of terrorism and banditry under a Northern Commander-In-Chief, if elections were to be held today between President Buhari who has failed beyond every doubt and a Southern candidate with excellent record and a credible chance of transforming Nigeria, chances are the average Northern youth will vote Buhari even if doing so will conclusively put the country on the way to golgotha. He will, because all that matters to him is having a fellow Northern Muslim at the helm of affairs. Mind you, if the North were to be a separate Nation, Northerners would never elect someone of Buhari’s intellect and competence to head even a hamlet because they know he has nothing to offer. The only reason they support Buhari is because they care more about dominating others than they do about performance.

It is a cultural thing. It has a name: Feudalism.

And this is exactly why the North and the South can never coexist happily because the two regions have a world view and value system that contrasts sharply with each other. One wants to explore the world and her full potentials while the other simply wants to dominate everyone and force others to go back to the dark ages with her.

I understand that we are in a time when truth sounds like hate to those who hate it but it must be stated in an unmistakable term that the Northern part of Nigeria is a huge liability to the rest of the country. If the region fails to take immediate steps to address her issues, the North risks collapsing under the weight of her internal contradictions. And when it happens, it will drag the rest of the country along as we are already witnessing.

Southern leaders must start making preparations for the day-after-tomorrow because if a man cannot stop a bad rain from falling, wisdom demands he should at least take measures to protect himself from being beaten by the rain.

Ogbu is a socio-political analyst and good governance advocate. He tweets from @RealCharlesOgbu

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Opinion

‘Dear Igbo Governors, You Don’t Have Sense!’

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By Baron Roy

The Yoruba governors eschewed party affiliations, personal pride and all. They sought the help of their intellectuals, sociocultural groups and technocrats and established the South West Regional Security outfit.

The Northern Establishment went mad with rage! They got the President of Northern Nigeria to summon them, threaten them and attempted to intimidate them. But the governors, with the backing of their people (and indeed Southern Nigerians) stuck to their guns, and told the Northern President to ‘go f@ck himself!’ We clapped and danced in delight!

Amotekun stays!

And the Fulani Terrorist Herdsmen are on the backfoot in the Oduduwa Region now.

But what did the South Eastern governors do?

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They ignored every single sociocultural group of South Eastern extraction, approached the Northern President like the regular neanderthals they are, and declared their support for his moronic security policies.

Whereas the Yoruba governors align with their citizens to ensure the security of lives and properties in the Oduduwa Region, the gubernatorial slaves of the South East threw their own people under the bus just to get a patting on the back from the Northern President!

Dear South Eastern governors, you don’t have sense! You’re very stupid!

Thank you!

 

Disclaimer: Opinion articles are solely the responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official standpoint of Oriental Times or any of its editors thereof.

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Opinion

Osun: The Storm Foreseen (1)

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By Abiodun Komolafe

To a casual observer, the philosophy of maize signifies that the process of life is gradual. The first thing you see in maize, when it is growing, is the root, followed by the shoot, before the leaves eventually appear.

What this simply means is that, when Gboyega Oyetola came on board as governor of Osun State, he had three notable groups of Nigerians to contend with. The first comprised a cross-section of the people – the agitated, who were banking on the wholesale application of the ‘philosophy of what works’, to demand change ‘with immediate effect.’ To the second class of people, ‘life itself is gradual.’ Therefore, the governor should be given a chance to build development, because ‘destructive change can lead to the disruption of the social order.’ The third category is comprised of the anarchists and pessimists who, right from the first day, have been fortified with the notion that time moratorium is futile; ‘chance or no chance, nothing good can come out of this government.’ In the eye of the objective observer, therefore, how has Osun fared in the last one year, in the context of the hypotheses above?

Well, for those who want ‘immediate change’, it is a lose-lose situation, because, effectively, nothing so spectacular has really changed, except, of course, that civil servants are now paid as and when due, which, in practical terms, is one of the cardinal duties of any responsible government. Talking to facts, policies of government must work; and must be seen to be working. Therefore, the issue at stake is beyond policy formulation because no insight is so far gained or meaningful benefits achieved from the application of sophistry or brand manipulation of government policies.

The most unfortunate thing about the second class of people is that, from the look of things, this set of people will also have to wait, possibly, till ‘Thy kingdom come’ before they begin to see some meaningful development. And the reason is simple: it takes leadership, good vision, foresight, accommodation, resilience and good politics to achieve development in any given society. For Osun, the sad narrative is not about the dearth of competent hands or attributes of leadership. It is, most unfortunately, about a palpable lack of cohesion in the policy machinery of the state. For instance, the newly-appointed commissioners, in spite of an elaborate retreat organized for them at the inception of their cabinet responsibilities, still work as if they are alone, striving individually, rather than as a team, to ‘please Mr. Governor.’

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For the third category of people, history over the time, has shown that, unless something concrete and tangible happens to mitigate their agitations, they are likely to win the day! It is therefore for the government of the day to prove them wrong!

Far from waxing lyrical, the troubles with the current administration in Osun are many, some of which may not have been initiated or caused by the incumbent occupier of Bola Ige House. Nonetheless, failure to address these thorny issues with tact – and holistically too – may spell doom for both the ruling party and the sitting government. To put it mildly, one of its shortcomings is that there are too many neophytes, who call themselves politicians, currently in government. When you have cabinet members who do not enjoy robust political patronage amongst the indigenous people; or, widespread legitimate acceptability; or, whose acceptability profile is defective, such a government will be unstable, lacking genuine respect of the use of state’s unquestionable authority! And, that is dangerous for a transformational democracy like ours!

Well, it is possible to carelessly tag the agitations of the ‘old-guard politicians’ as being inconsequential, but they sure know what it means to lose political capital and commanding influence; more importantly, how to gain back any ‘lost’ political goodwill, more than the greenhorns. The general feeling out there is that the old politicians are no longer relevant and some identifiable groups of people within the ruling party, who sincerely worked for its victory in the last governorship election, are currently left in the cold.

The orthodox market women, aka Iyalojas, are no longer dancing while the usual handshake between the street and the Seat of Government has become a thing of the past. The ‘State Boys’ are reportedly trapped in the nightmares of their neglect while erstwhile conversations between the clerics and their long prayers for the state no longer find accommodation in the government’s scheme of things. The political hangers-on are hungry and are ready to write the prescriptions, even, administer the dosage for an ‘Us vs. Us’ implosion in obedience to the intensity of their resentment. Strangely, too, the opposition, though still licking its wounds, is busy strategizing how to capitalize on the alleged political naivety of the government. To a vast majority of these aggrieved blocs, the unbearable realities are showing on their faces and this may have negative effects on the very foundation of governance in the state if either of two things is not opted for.

The first is to accommodate the old structures with tact and caution and learn how to manage them, especially, taking into consideration the place of August 9, 2014 in Nigeria’s rich political history. As a remarkable Nigerian and an accomplished politician, a time like this presents a tempting opportunity for Oyetola to reach out to the useful ones among existing structures, buy them over and make them work for him. After all, politics is about the people; and policy without the people is a nullity! Interestingly, too, winning elections and governance have obviously moved away from party issues. I will return to that later!

In the alternative, the administration may need to talk to the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to give state heads of security agencies needed directives and incentives to do the bidding of the governor wholesale. Of course, this may be more costly and unhealthy, especially, in a country buffeted on all sides with problems of insecurity, economic underdevelopment and over-politicization of all sociopolitical issues.

Yes! The political power and influence of the sum total of the diverse politically aggrieved groups of people in Osun may not be able to successfully challenge the state. Nonetheless, the dark side of politics is that, collectively, they stand formidable; and could probably slow the pace of development, or, altogether, render the state impotent. Also, the rightness or otherwise of the structure and relevance of what the active actors do will depend, largely, on who is doing the appraisal or attempting a definition.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Osun State!

(To be continued.)

~ KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria. He can be reached via email: ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk

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