BY AGUNLOYE ADEWUNMI BASHIRU
The Christmas day killing of a Lagos based Lawyer, Bolanle Raheem by the personnel of the Nigeria Police at a checkpoint in Ajaharea, Lagos State, Nigeria is one out of the too many police brutality and extrajudicial killings of the Citizens of Nigeria whom they are supposed to be protecting.
Between January and September 2021 alone 164 cases of police – civilian incidents were recorded according to Global Rights Advocates for Sustainable Justice, while 271 incidents were documented by Amnesty International between March to June of 2021.
Whenever these barbaric killings or manhandling of the Nigerian Civilians happened, people continue to clamor for Law Enforcement Reform and Training of the Police Personnel. It is not out of context that the Nigerian Police Force needs total Reform and Training to make it more vibrant and be able to perform optimally as seen in other countries of the world, but the extrajudicial killings and harassments of the Civilians being perpetrated by the Police Personnel in Nigeria is not about police officers not been trained.
It is a known fact that during the recruitment exercise of personnel into the Nigerian Police Force, the recruits always undergone series of training and activities at the Police College. Is the recruited Police Officer in Nigeria during orientation and training not being taught or educated on how to relate with the civilians or when to use their guns?
I am sure that no police personnel in Nigeria did not pass through the Police College Training. Also no police officer is trained to be carrying and using AK 47 Gun anyhow as they like including shooting at the civilians that they were supposed to be protecting.
In Nigeria, police officers are seen going around with AK 47 Guns on our street, inside public transportation and even at the beer parlor.
Nigerian Police Officer are seen on the road pointing guns at the bus conductor or driver that refused to pay N100 at the Bus Garage or Checkpoint. There are many reported cases of Police Officer killing of bus conductors that refuses to pay whenever money is demanded.
Whenever there is an argument between Police Officer and the Civilians in Nigeria the next thing is for the officer to point AK 47 Gun at that civilian and in the process the civilian are killed or wounded.
The men in uniform that were trained to be protector of lives and properties of the citizens has now turned to agent of death. This dastardly act happened occasionally or at irregular intervals.
Looking at the rate at which these killings are happening in Nigeria and the reasons for the killings which often times is just little argument that ensue between the police men and the civilian victims, one can easily conclude that those uniform men are insane with mental health.
If not that they have mental health issues, how can a right thinking and normal human being with sound mental health point gun at, shots and killed citizen who are not criminal, bandit, terrorist or gangsters because of ordinary arguments or altercations.
The poverty level in Nigeria is alarming, the majority of the citizen are battling with depression and the depression turning to mental health and personnel of the Nigerian Police are part and parcel of the larger Nigeria Society.
Like other Nigerians facing hardship and living in abject poverty, police officers are also battling with same myriad of problems which includes; inability to feed their wife and children, inability to pay house rent and other basic needs.
The Nigerian Government has failed to provide the basic needs for the citizens of which police personnel are parts of. Police Barracks across the country are like a ghetto and dumpsite, how do you expect someone leaving in those barracks to behave normally, it is like expecting an insane person who sleep under the bridge, dumpsite or shanties to behave like normal human being, it is impossible.
In order to put an end to the incessant killings of Nigerians who are not criminals, bandits or terrorists by the Men in Uniform, the Nigeria Government should as a matter of urgency subjected all Police Personnel from the middle ranks to constable to psychiatrics test and examinations to ascertained the level of their mental health.
Also, henceforth psychiatrics test and examinations should be parts of the prerequisite at entry level into the Nigerian Police Force.
In complimentary to the above, Nigerian Government should increase the salaries of the Police Personnel, renovate all the barracks across the country, build additional barracks, restructure the Nigerian Police Force as well as trained them.
If all the above as itemized are follow, it is expected that Nigeria will be boasting of vibrant, well-behave and people friendly Police Personnel and the incessant killings of the citizen by the overzealous police officers will be a thing of the past.