The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has been the subject of national and international scrutiny in the past weeks as the security agency has, for longer than anyone can remember, being accused of widespread extortion and extra-judicial murders. The consequence of the actions of a unit of the NPF, Federal Special Anti-robbery Squad (FSARS), was the #EndSARS protests, which was later infiltrated by Nigerians who also felt they were affected – only that the infiltrants came with violence.
Amid trying to ward off violent protesters, the #LekkiMassacre happened and, there was a downturn of events as angry Nigerians not only besieged warehouses across the country, some took to the extreme in the form of arson and vandalism.
In the wake of recent attacks suffered by the police, the Inspector General, Mohammed Adamu, has rallied police officers, literally asking them to “fight back” if anyone assaults them.
“If anyone assaults you, you can protect yourselves. When we talk of human rights, the police are human and we have human rights too. Their lives should also be protected. We are sending the message that legally, we have the right to protect ourselves,” Adamu was quoted to have said at the Police Command in Abuja.
For an outfit that has already got its integrity smeared with incidents that may take a lifetime to settle in court, the police boss does not seem to be helping matters. The attacks that the police have suffered is not disconnected from the brutality and high-handedness they have been accused of.
The solution, as put forward by the protesters in the #5for5 agenda, lies in reforms, not stoking the flames of fire. His comments can be interpreted as an express approval for the police to resort to whatever form of defence, shooting (and killing) not excluded. Even then, the NPF seems to have conveniently forgotten that the reason for its existence is to protect people and their property, not threaten social existence. The police should not exist independent of the people, they exist because of the people but it’s rather ironic that it’s become the people versus the police.
As security professionals who have undoubtedly lost the trust of the people, the focus should have been trying to win back their trust even if they’d suffer some initial backlash, owing to the actions of SARS over the years.
There is a reason the anti-riot police exists and it is not for mass murder. Other ways of managing riots and attacks without resorting to killing exist but it appears that the words of the IGP may just defeat the very essence for police existence.
Kola Muhammed has imprint across local and international media. He is passionate about trends in the domains of culture, communication and technology.