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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.

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.

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Opinion

Making Sense Of Oshiomhole’s Reprieve

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By Abiodun Komolafe

Once upon a sociopolitical space, there was an unknown ‘Edo Boy’, who came into limelight through the Textiles Industry, where he was a paid secretary of its Union. (Conventionally, paid secretaries are never made political heads. But Adams Oshiomhole became the political head of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, which, in itself, was an anomaly). The emergence of the Iyamho, Edo State-born politician as a leader in Nigeria was aided by the society’s sociopolitical milieu. Why? A quick look should suffice.

First and foremost, the society’s worldview was laissez-faire and regrettably assuming. The ruling paradigm, then, was that man was created noble, and his inner nature was inherently good. Not only that, the uncertainty in the country’s political firmament, and the little or no skepticism as a political virtue on the part of the masses, all met at the table to foist the former governor on the hapless citizens of Nigeria. Besides, the complacency as well as the faith of the majority in a benevolent God who cares for all, thereby lessening the burden of responsibilities of good governance on governments, and the pliability of the government, under which Oshiomhole served as Labour’s first citizen, also aided his emergence as a force to be reckoned with. In other words, though regarded as NLC president, somewhere along the line, ‘Comrade’ became a tool in the hands of the government; and ‘the rest is history.’

But, how did the situation between Oshimhole and Godwin Obaseki become so messy that the latter is now calling for the former’s head? That the situation between the godfather, who practically installed the godson as his successor, to have so worsened means that something fundamental must be wrong. Again, for Obaseki’s camp to have confessed that it was only following in the footsteps of Oshiomhole clearly spoke to how he who lives in glass house must not throw stones. But, if we may ask: what gives our former governors this impression that they must continue to have a hold on the states where they have once served, if not for the reason of corruption? Why can’t they emulate Kashim Shettima, who is now at peace with himself as a former governor? Nonetheless, the feud in Edo is good for the masses, because such will always bring out the best in a democracy.

After Jimmy Carter left office as the 39th President of the United States of America, he confessed to a stunned world that, for the first time, he understood what ‘African leaders always feel when they want to leave office.’ Well, this statement might seem innocuous or harmless; but it was thought-provoking! The good thing about Carter was that he knew that he had no choice because that’s the Constitution; and Americans have a lot of respect for their Constitution! But, as far as the Africanness in us is concerned, the Constitution can go to blazes! That’s why former President Olusegun Obasanjo has the temerity to attempt a shameful 3rd Term ambition that adoringly placed a dent on what would, at least, have been an alluring legacy.

Let’s come back to the apparent lack of cohesion in the national All Progressives Congress (APC) and the notorious little foxes, such as Oshiomhole’s face-off with his state governor. Without doubt, these can spell doom for the continued success and sustenance of the ruling party, if not quickly and efficiently addressed. Yes, some forces may succeed in muscling Obaseki out of the 2nd Term race. But then, as long as Obaseki’s problem remains unsolved, Oshiomhole’s case will also remain precarious. Why? The governor is most likely to raise dust; and, if he does, that will be bad news for the party; no longer for President Muhammadu Buhari, but the party. After all, Buhari is already negotiating his way out of Aso Rock! The more reason the president must genuinely intervene now, even, when the waning nature of party supremacy in Nigeria dictates otherwise.

That’s not all! There is also an effect on the political participation profile of the masses. For instance, lack of cohesion in a political party is an indication that the party is disorganized. And, if it is, it will also yield itself to ineffective government. After all, nobody will want to put his or her faith in a party that lacks cohesion or effective organization. Not only that, discipline will become watered down, as nobody will be answerable to anybody. Talking about development, the masses are definitely going to be at the receiving end of this needless power tussle. Since needless marginalization in politics leads to economic insecurity, feeling safe, either at home or at work, will also become very difficult. Not even in a country where growing insecurity has manifestly become a diet.

This also takes us back to the issue of party formation. Though political non-participation is just the resultant effect of the disarray that we now notice in the party system, party system becomes disarrayed as a result of the faulty foundation of the party in question. In other words, if we get it wrong at the level of party formation, the likelihood of such wrongness posing perennial problems is palpably high.

All things being equal, the brawl between Oshiomhole and Obaseki could never have been in good faith! Nonetheless, a virus that tarries for too long in a man’s life has the capacity to mutate and transform into aberrant, more hostile and vicious types. What we are saying here is: as an amazing Labour leader and politician, the APC National Chairman should realize that it is time to rethink his strategy and the endgame of his political ambition. Glaringly, the reprieve granted by the appellate court remains temporary until all pending cases might have been dispensed with. We also need to note that the aggrieved and the disgruntled have the option of ‘acting nPDP’, or going back to their vomit. This may be dangerous for APC!

Well, controversy or not; provable or improvable, Oshiomhole has done his bit! Won’t his Achilles heels be the inability to leave the beat when the ovation is still ascending? On the other hand, ‘power’, they say, ‘corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Will Obaseki learn how to ‘give honour to whom honour is due’, especially, those who once fed him? Lastly, who’s right on the Edo story and who will write the last chapter of the national APC conundrum?

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

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

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Opinion

Breaking News From Aso Villa

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By Femi Adesina

Quite a challenging week it has been for Nigeria, and, indeed, the rest of the world. Except perhaps in China only, where the affliction started from, figures of Coronavirus infections continue to mount in other parts of the world. Italy and Spain have been particularly badly hit.

But as the world reels under the impact of a most pernicious pandemic, a suicide bomber wreaking deadly havocs, merchants of fake, hateful news remain fully at work. Aso Villa, the seat of presidential authority, has been their focus for most of the week. They have kept churning out spurious reports after the other about President Muhammadu Buhari, and some other people who work with him. If you choose to believe them, the President by now has even been evacuated, and is receiving medical attention at an undisclosed location somewhere in the wide world.

Breaking news from Aso Villa. That is what you have had day after day. And each time I am contacted to authenticate one story or the other, I tell the enquirers that the Presidential Villa is part of the world, part of humanity, and the people there are not immune from what is happening in the rest of the world.

But the outright fake, hateful news, I have ignored all week. Not a word in response. How do you begin to give wings to concocted stories through responses that will make the falsehood fly faster? No, purveyors of wickedness should not have the satisfaction of drawing us out all the time, and getting some tacit endorsement for their flight of fancy.

A top aide of the President tested positive early in the week. He is receiving adequate care, and he has our best wishes. But for the sinister minds, it was floodgate to all sorts of malediction. All sorts of Breaking News followed:

‘Intensive care machines brought into Aso Rock.’ ‘President Buhari coughing ceaselessly.’ ‘PMB under intensive care.’ ‘Adesina among those who accompanied Abba Kyari to Kogi.’ (I never did). ‘Garba Shehu under self-isolation.’ ‘Buhari may be smuggled out of the country, as condition worsens.’ And by yesterday, a recorded message started circulating on WhatsApp, saying President Buhari had been sneaked out of the country. To where? By who? Their fecund imaginations did not say.

And more Breaking News: ‘Buhari bans journalists from covering Aso Villa.’ (A man supposedly in intensive care was still banning reporters. Lol). ‘Buhari in self-isolation’ (Yet he was in the office on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, even receiving visitors). ‘Aso Villa shut down.’ And the vile beat goes on…

Why do some people conjure nothing but evil? Why do they imagine vain things? In 2017, while President Buhari had his medical challenge, they were on orgy of negative wishes, misinformation, and disinformation. But God pulled a fast one on them. He brought the President back, as right as rain. Haven’t they learned their lessons?

With the good people, however, positive things are happening. Tony Elumelu’s UBA is giving N5 billion to help Nigeria and Africa. Abdusamad Rabiu (BUA) has donated one billion Naira in cash. . Folorunsho Alakija has imported test kits and other materials for Nigerians, worth hundreds of millions of Naira. Aliko Dangote, after an initial donation of N200 million to combat Coronavirus, is leading top bankers and the private sector generally to raise aid. GTBank has donated a 100 beds care center. The Redeemed Christian Church of God has provided ventilators. And many more. These are the people and organizations that should define us as a people, not the conjurers of wickedness and doomsday. God is surely greater than them. And Nigeria too.

~ Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity. 

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Opinion

COVID-19: A War Without Arms

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Alas! It’s a global novel virus.

It started as an epidemic outbreak in China,

Now, it has snowballed into a pandemic,
Spreading like Australia wide fire,

Attacking at a speed swifter than light,
Killing its victims like an angry vulture,

It is Corona Virus, nicknamed COVID-19.
It has no regards for boundaries, personalities, and affluence.

COVID-19 has brought down governments without firing any arms.

It brought nations to their knees without minding their military strengths nor have regards for the sophisticated ballistic and chemical weapons in their arsenals.

The foundation of many establishments are shaken and threatened to core.

It has dazed and rendered world powers powerless.

It has brought down respected and exalted institutions.

Global economy is at a standstill and steadily nose-diving,

The world economy is fast crumbling under the fold of the riotous virus.
It has made a global mockery of world best medical think tanks.

Nations have no choice than to lockdown
The streets of popular cities are deserted, now turned ghost cities.

The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of human’s without respect to race, color or language.

It revealed the humanity in human.

The panic pang of watching fellow humans fall helplessly to the gruesome hand of COVID-19 is terrifying.

Sooner or later, the world would have a relief from the fist tight fold of the ravaging pandemic.

And when it finally bids the world a goodbye, after its irreparable havoc on humanity,

When friends and families painfully reminiscence the traumatic experience of losing someone so dear to their hearts,

I hope it would lead us to better appreciate little things which are often regarded as inconsequential but in reality, they are the most consequential.

~ Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE.

A Postgraduate student, University of Ibadan.

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