The incredible decline in the standard and quality of policing by the Nigeria police force has reached an unprecedented alarming rate with their naked dance of shame in the political market place.
Apart from the loud cry from majority of the common people about the increasing rate of police extortions on road blocks especially in the South East of Nigeria and the worsening cases of police brutality and extra-legal killings, the expanding frontiers of the involvement of officers of the Nigeria police in partisan politics and their availability for hatchet jobs against political opponents of the president and persons with independent opinion have become very disturbing. The police operatives have literally become PAY- AS- GO police or what is popularly called “money for hand, back for ground. The level of corruption, indiscipline and collapse of professionalism are way beyond what a bureaucracy like the police service commission can handle given the deliberate poor funding of that important institution and the stiffking of its independence status as against constitutional provisions. The rascality of the police knows no bounds especially when they are choreographed to deal with opposition politicians and people protesting against oppression and suppression of human rights.
And so on Monday April 23rd 2018, a Senator Mr. Dino Melaye was harassed and detained by the police on the orders of the Inspector General of Police on the rebellious charge that a criminal suspect arrested in Kogi state named him as an accomplice. His planned foreign official trip to Morocco was aborted.
In his own words, Senator Melaye said that: “Myself and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and others were to be on an official trip to Morocco but while some have gone through the Lagos airport today, others are to depart tomorrow.
“I got to this airport I was checked in and was already in the lounge waiting for departure. Immigration officers invited me that there is a directive from the police that I can’t travel; that I am on their watch list. And I said it was not true, that the INTERPOL said they had not issue an alert on me. I opened INTERPOL’s website and showed them the denial. But they insisted that it was based on the directive from the police.
“I was disembarked and asked me to go to their office (at the airport). They snatched my passport but I snatched my thing back from them. I got it back! I’m still here with them. They circled me and said they were waiting for further instructions from the police.” After some hours he walked out a free man but had already been made to miss his flight.
This Senator from Kogi state has had running political battles with the Kogi state governor Mr. Yahaya Bello who he (Dino) accused of plotting to use the police to rope him into a criminal charge that he is completely innocent of.
Few days after Senator Dino Melaye made the allegation against the police and Kogi state governor, the Kogi state police command reportedly paraded some gangsters whom they said indicted one Mr. Melaye. Two days after the arrested suspects were allowed to disappear only to be rearrested after the serving police commissioner was transferred out of Kogi but the newly posted replacement was reportedly chased back to Abuja by the Kogi state governor.
The Nigeria police is so predictable in terms of setting up innocent persons whose only crime is that they are independent voices from the positions expressed in official quarters inside the presidency which controls the police like rubber stamps. On a smaller scale, most Nigerians are sometimes arrested and frame up just so they can be extorted. The Police unit incharge of anti-crime known as SARS (special anti-robbery squad) has become notorious for arbitrary arrests and false indictments of innocent citizens for monetary benefits. In some cases, innocent persons are arrested and escorted to the Automatic teller Machines so they can make withdrawals to settle the police. Last week in Lagos, a citizen was chased by the police to the bank and told to withdraw money from his account to settle them but the man decided to hide inside the toilet of the bank and made a social media broadcast of the incident but the bank staff walked him out into the waiting hands of the extortion seeking police armed with sophisticated bought with tax payers money. The most worrying development is the harassment of political opponents of the President of state governors.
Another of such independent minded Senator who like Dino Melaye is of the same ruling All Progressives Congress Mr. Shehu Sani has just been similarly invited by the Kaduna state police command on the infantile allegation that a murder suspect listed him as a collaborator.
Shehu Sani who represents Kaduna Central and doubles as Senate Committee Chairman on foreign and local loans is at loggerhead with the Kaduna state governor for turning down the approval of multimillion dollars loan from the World Bank as applied by Governor Nassir Elrufai. The Kaduna state governor does not see eye to eye with all the federal law makers from Kaduna state because they accused him of taking over the party structure in Kafuna as against the legal provisions that allows for internal democracy within political parties.
The interesting dimension in all of these two scenarios is that the state governors are neck deep in the sinister plots to rope in the duo of Senator Melaye and Shehu Sani only because they are outspoken and have refused to toe the slavish party line of the President or that of these self-seeking governors.
Shehu Sani it would be recalled has had several attacks made against his life even as one of his personal aides was kidnapped sometime back.
How come that this irrepressible human rights activist turned politician is being roped into a phantom murder case that he knows nothing about just because of his political differences with his state governor?
There is something fundamentally wrong with a police force whose commissioners are ready to undermine the constitution at the altar of self-aggrandizement for financial benefits.
It is a well-known fact that state governors pay huge amounts of running costs to the state commissioners of police whose duties are not in a lot of ways funded by the office of the Inspector General of police and/or the police department under the ministry of interior. The inspector General of Police is accused of a range of financial misconduct.
A serving senator Mr. Isah Hamma Misau from Bauchi state had recently made earth shaking allegations of corruption and financial misconducts against the inspector general of police but the presidency has conveniently buried these disturbing allegations under the carpets of impunity and has instead charged the whistleblower with raising false alarm. What a banana republic!
Apart from making themselves available as attack dogs of the executive arm of government, the police has become so repressive so much so that they are now grave threat to democracy and are working directly against the provisions of the constitution in chapter four which guarantees fundamental freedoms to the citizenry. Police in Nigeria are substantially working as public enemies.
Year in, year out, human right reports from the state department of the United States of America and that of Amnesty International based in the United Kingdom have always identified the Nigeria police as notorious violators of human rights but sadly, because the presidency and other heads of subnational executive branch of government benefits from these abuses, the thirst for effectively changing the face of the police has remained elusive.
Last week, the police barricaded the Unity fountain in Abuja and physically violated the fundamental rights of non-violent members of the Islamic movement of Nigeria who are demonstrating against the continuous illegal detention of their leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zaczacky.
Because of the oppressive and repressive tendencies of the Nigeria police, the members of the Islamic movement of Nigeria who turned out in their thousands were dispersed with tear gas canisters and when some of the protesters threw back pebbles, it was reported that the police were now joined by the army who then opened fire with live bullets which led to the death of some protesters.
What kind of constitutional democracy will the civil right peaceful protests repressed?
These same police operatives shot and killed protesters in Owerri few months back when the people resisted the demolition of Eke Ukwu market by the Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration.
These police extra-legal killings have continued because nobody is brought to account.
Talking about the lack of accountability, one recalls the setting ablaze of a community in Benue state last week by the Army on the ground that a soldier was killed in that community.
These same people of Benue state have continued to go through series of armed attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen who had protested against the passage of the anti-open grazing law by the Benue state house of Assembly. Sadly, both the military and the police seem to have done very little whilst the killing go on.
It is hoped that now that the police have taken their attacks to the members of the National Assembly may be the legislators will use their powers to bring about change in the police force that has become notorious for professional incompetence, indiscipline and grossly corrupt. Last week the police alongside the DSS colluded to allow armed hoodlums to invade the Senate chambers and snatched the mace at gunpoint even after forcefully reinstating the suspended senator ovie Omo-Agege.