SIR: Nigeria is not exactly a police state but it is perilously close to being one because the police wield so much power and act with so much impunity. The EndSARS protests which erupted out of nowhere and sent chills down the corridors of power last year were a telling testament to the depth of the frustration which average Nigerians feel towards the Police.
The protests which shook the country to its core forced the government to act, and the police authorities to critically examine its ranks and modus operandi. But for all its gains, many Nigerian feel a deep sense of loss over the protests as there have been very little fruits, but especially as innocent blood was let at the Lekki toll gate killings.
Because Nigerians regard the police with more suspicion and even outright disgust than affection, news involving police officers, even when they are perilous are often met with muted celebrations. For a whole lot of Nigerians, each time a police officer runs into a professional hazard in the course of duty, there is cause for celebration.
The sad irony of the whole situation is that while a cross-section of sensible Nigerians loathe the Police for their high-handedness and lack of professionalism, there is also a good number of Nigerian criminals who would rather the country is unpoliced and citizens left without any form of security. This is because in spite of their many failings, the police keep criminals on their toes. The police still do its bit no matter how little in seems in a country engulfed by insecurity like a hurricane.
It is also public knowledge that the rampant corruption which seems to infect the rank and file of the Nigeria Police like uncurable leprosy is in no small measure fuelled by the appallingly atrocious apathy with which successive administrations in Nigeria have treated police welfare. It is pretty common knowledge that once a police officer in Nigeria falls in the line of duty, their family is mostly left to its own devices with very few exceptions.
Nigerians have recently been inundated with the predicament of Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police nicknamed “ supercop” for his exploits and antics. The iron irony of one who on countless occasions declared others now being wanted himself by no less than the American Federal Bureau of Investigation has not been lost on many.
Abba Kyari has been suspended by the Nigeria Police pending the outcome of investigations. While the threat of looming extradition hangs over his neck like the sword of Damocles, Nigerians have been sharply divided into two camps of those who baulk at the attempts by the United States of America to “whittle” down the sovereignty of Nigeria, the largest black country on earth; and those who have no doubt that it is the chickens that have come home to roost for Abba Kyari, long accused of a litany of brutalities against Nigerians.
When Hushpuppi an internet fraudster and hero to countless young Nigerians left with nothing to look forward to but the promise of a big pay day from internet fraud was arrested and put on trial in the United States of America, Nigeria‘s long suffering image went into another round of trial. Now that Abba Kyari, one of the more popular faces of the Nigeria Police, has been dragged into Hushpuppi‘s hell on allegations of receiving proceeds of fraud to set the law in motion against a perceived enemy, Nigerians know that the other shoe has dropped.
As Nigeria continues to struggle to live up to its limitless potentials, Nigerian institutions, long fingered as the harbingers and hosts of corruption, have done irritatingly little to show that they are up to the task of nation building. Kyari’s predicament puts Nigeria‘s Police Force firmly in the eye of the storm and confirms the worst fears of those who believe that the Police in Nigeria employs many insufferable ingrates who would rather rob Peter to pay Paul. Nigeria is truly an Augean stable. Even Hercules will quake in his boots at the prospect of cleaning it.
- Kene Obiezu, Abuja.