PERSONNEL of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) have maintained apathy towards their official mandate of protecting lives and properties following the grave lawlessness that attended the #EndSARS peaceful protest when it was hijacked by hoodlums. Even though the atrocious activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) gave rise to the peaceful protest, there was no report of any attack on the police until hooligans took over and began to attack private and public e assets, including police stations and personnel. Since the devastation, major cities and towns in the country have been devoid of police presence, especially in the southern states where the police’s wilful dereliction of duty is more pronounced. And judging by the free reign that the hoodlums had while wreaking havoc across the country, it is evident that the police had stopped carrying out their duties even before they became the target of attack by the yobbos. As would be expected, one of the immediate consequences is an upsurge in crime wave as the conspicuous absence of the police is being exploited by the hoodlums to commit crimes.
While we condemn the barbaric attacks on the police by criminals, a situation which acutely imperilled law and order in the country for days, the refusal of the police to return to duty after being directed to do so at the highest level of authority is strange and uncalled for. The police are a regimented force. Command and control are central to their modus operandi and, as such, disobedience of legitimate order by constituted authorities could not have ordinarily been contemplated. However, that is the embarrassing and frightening reality staring everyone in the face in the country. It has even got to a state whereby the governors of the states who are the Chief Security Officers, albeit in name only, are the ones now liaising with and begging Commissioners of Police to appeal to their officers and men to return to their duty posts.
Some of the governors have undertaken to rebuild the police stations torched by the hoodlums and replace the patrol vehicles that were vandalised or burnt, with an additional promise to compensate the families of policemen who lost their lives during the crisis. Nonetheless, the response to resumption of duty by the cops has been rather sluggish. There is palpable reticence. Many are already asking why people should be begged to do a job for which they are being paid. Again, not a few find it rather embarrassing that even the police do not believe in the police. It would appear as if the police hierarchy has a grand design to hold the entire country to ransom, otherwise it beggars belief that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, would resort to appealing to the rank and file to return to duty after they had obstinately ignored his clear directives in that regard. That is a very dangerous turn of events because the grave implication is that there is no police.
It is time the police sat up to review and jettison their penchant for ignoring or disobeying legitimate directives from lawful authorities. For instance, the directives to stop extorting money from motorists and to stop taking money from suspects before granting them bail have always been openly observed in the breach and the usual claim by the police authorities that they are oblivious of these facts is tantamount to playing the ostrich. Even Mr. Abubakar Idris, the immediate predecessor of the incumbent IGP, flagrantly defied the order of President Muhammadu Buhari to proceed to Benue State at the height of the Fulani herdsmen/farmers crisis in that state and he got away with the egregious disobedience unscathed. It is that culture of defiance of lawful orders and the impunity around such insubordination that has brought the country to the current dire straits. Even at that, many had thought that in view of the current national and international klieg light on their activities, the police would react differently and more professionally to the hoodlums’ destruction of some of their buildings and attacks on their personnel, but somehow they chose to behave true to type.
To be sure, no one is suggesting that policemen are super humans who cannot or should not feel and react to pain whether physical or psychological, but what distinguishes police personnel and other security agents from ordinary Nigerians is the high level of discipline associated with their calling. And disobedience of lawful order under any guise, save obvious existential danger, is inexplicable and amounts to gross indiscipline. It is imperative to note that while previous and usual cases of police disobedience of lawful directives could be attributed to the failings of individual officials, the instance case smacks of grave institutional conspiracy and defiance which must not be tolerated. We urge the police to return to their duty posts while their patently poor welfare conditions should be improved upon by the government. However, there is an urgent need to rejig the system. Under no circumstances should it happen again that the authorities would have to beg the police to do their job of protecting lives and properties. Such a state of affairs is sordid, embarrassing and lawless.
Begging police to return to duty
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Begging police to return to duty