Every Nigerian Police station has this caption “The Police is your friend” boldly written on the wall. In most developed countries, there are localities where the police force is known to be involved in community activities. The police do engage in activities like basket ball games with the youths and host community events where there is drinks and food for everyone present. They use it as an opportunity to educate the people and assure them of their security. The police encourage the people to approach them when they have issues and letting them know that they in it together. They let the people know that the police are your friends.
In Nigeria, our police boldly declare it (being a friend) in theory but not in practical. The Nigerian police has made those they are to protect enemies. Someone said that the day any of his friends or relatives join the Nigerian Police Force, that day he will break all ties with that person. When asked why he would do such a thing, he said “The NPF means No Proper Friend. You cannot trust such a person anymore “. There was an incident that happened a long time in Benin. There two friends who were more than just friends. They were seen as brothers. One was in the police force and the other was not. The police officer gave his friend some bullets to keep for him which he kept inside a box in his room. He told his police friend where he had kept it. Sometime later, they had a bitter quarrel and the police officer told his friend that he would deal with him mercilessly.
Some days later, police men came to arrest the one who had the quarrel with his police friend that they got information that he was supplying bullets to armed robbers. His room was checked but no bullet was found. They left him. It was later that he told us that it was an uncle who asked him if he had anything belonging to the police friend that would implicate him. So he had to remove the bullets given to him by his friends and gave it to his uncle.
In foreign countries, police informants are well protected but not in Nigeria. It is the same police that will reveal your true identity to the men of the underworld when caught. They harass innocent citizens and extort money from commercial drivers and whoever they can oppress.
In front of the recently burnt police station near Daleko under the Isolo Bridge, is a big pothole. What will it cost the DPO of the station to mobilize his men to fill up the hole as his own contribution to the community? If the police was our friend, nobody will destroy their stations or kill them. In Onitsha, it was only the DPO at the Fegge Police station that was spared because of his good deeds.
The police need to engage in community activities and be friendlier with the host communities. They should not be seen as enemies but rather as part of the community. They should organize events that will engage the young and old. Such events will give them the opportunity to create awareness on what the Nigerian Police Force is all about, a new face of the police and cremate the wrong impression they created in the past. The EndSARS protests would not have been hijacked if the police were the friend of the people. They would have been there for them and protecting them from the hoodlums who were paid to attack them but instead in some locations, the police were seen assisting hoodlums to attack peaceful protesters. It is the same peaceful protesters who are demanding for an increase in police salaries and better welfare for them.
The Nigerian Police Force need to warm their way into the hearts of the people to avoid a repeat of what happened to them in the last carnage all over the country.
Photo credit: Daily Trust