One controversial issue in Nigeria that seems not to be having a headway in its solution is that of the Nigerian police and the citizens.
More often than not, issues of the Nigerian police clashing with citizens find its way into the news.
Not quite long, the case of police assault involving the son of the legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, was captured in a video that went viral. Seun Kuti was seen shouting at the police officer and ended up slapping him in his anger.
After this unpleasant event, the police have been on their ten toes to ensure justice prevails, however, the question here is what gave a citizen the effrontery to raise his hand against a law officer? The answer is not farfetched, you are addressed the way you present yourself, and like they say, respect is reciprocal.
Do the Nigerian Police put themselves in a position where they would be respected? The law has given them sovereignty and authority, how well do they use it? Do they use it in accordance with the law.
Right before people started speaking up on the brutality of the Nigerian police, which is the End Sars era, the police has been getting away with misuse of power, in which is believed should have been addressed before the citizens start getting the idea of ‘all man for himself’ and that of ‘if I do not stand up for myself, the law won’t do that for me’. Which could have avoided an individual taking it upon himself to protect his family from aggressive police officers.
It is really saddening to think that the people you want to run to are the people running after you and you are left with no choice than to stand back and fight which is what can be seen in Seun Kuti’s case.
Now when this happens to one of them, they are seen agitating for justice, with order to arrest swiftly given, oh yes! That’s what is expected of an effective administration but the question is if reversed has been the case, would it have been addressed swiftly or even addressed at all? Would the police officer have kept his cool if Seun Kuti wasn’t a prominent person or would he have been trigger happy to show who is superior? There are so many questions that needs to be asked before Seun Kuti is being paraded in handcuffs like a criminal, but no, all of these have been ignored and focus put only on what they want to see. Like our fathers say, solving a problem should start from the root, not cutting branches thinking that would stop the growth. Seun Kuti slapping a police officer is just a branch of a decayed system, an improved system wouldn’t put cuffs on an offender that turned himself in or parade him bare-footed.
Fundamentally, it is an abuse of human right, to put cuffs in the absence of any sort of violence, subjecting an individual to such degrading treatment is against the section 34 of the 1999 constitution which states that “every individual is entitled to respect for human dignity and shall not be subjected to torture or degrading treatment”. The police force as a law enforcement agency should learn to respect boundaries and in return observe how citizens start respecting them for their sovereignty.
All in all, it is left to the Nigerian Police to improve their public relations in the country and among the people and it is in their best interest to start working in accordance of their motto and be a friend to Nigerians.
Written by Mariam Fasasi