Last week, l commenced the narration of the Nigeria Police Force – albeit bringing the story from the very beginning of the Force’s creation; called Consular Constabulary then, in 1861. I put before the public domain of the Nigerian People; a people seeking for good and people-oriented policing, and the Nigerian [successive] governments; that have been resisting a well-deserved police organisation for Nigerians, the fact of the type of Police Force given to “this area of the Niger” [River Niger – as the wife of Lord Frederick John Dealtry Lugard was to name the forcefully united protectorates later], when the need to establish a Police Force came calling.
I also established, with facts [I hope I did], that the Police Force given to us – Nigerian People, in 1861; as events at Epe, where both the first and second operational outing of the newly created Force took place, was a brutalizing Killer-Squad. And the Police Force [represented mostly by SARS], which Nigerian Youths rose astutely against in one massive major protest, in October, 2020, remained a brutalizing Killer-Squad as well.
This analytical comparison remains a proof that at no time, from the beginning of the Product [the Police] in 1861, till date did the Nigerian People got a people-oriented or friendly Police Force, to serve them, but instead, what was given to us in the beginning remains what is being served on us till date – a brutalizing Killer-Squad.
It means that a total reformation of the Nigeria Police Force is inevitable and until a holistic reformation is deliberately carried out, we shall remain with a brother, ditto sister, recruited from among us [every policeman/woman is our brother and sister; recruited from amongst us]; and subject to concept of origin, shall remain our killer. That is just the way the cookie of the Nigeria Police Force crumbles.
We need to turn our attention to the type of reformations that are necessary in the Nigeria Police Force, but not without evaluating just a few of atrocities the Police have unleashed on some Nigerians in recent time. If you are sure of your capacity of holding yourself together when confronted with inhuman oddities, then come along this next stage of reading, mostly the aspect of the narrative interview which Okechukwu Nwanguma; the Executive Director – Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre granted to the Punch Newspaper recently.
First, let us peruse some random encounters of few unfortunate Nigerians before encountering the horrific interview.
IFEOMA ABUGU, 20, a young lady who had just graduated and was in NYSC, was arrested in place of her fiancé, at his [the fiancé] residence in Lokogoma Area of Abuja. Ifeoma was sexually assaulted and later died in SARS custody a day after she was arrested. The Police [SARS] was to say that she died of “cocaine overdose”, without telling the supplier of the cocaine to her, more so when she was in Police custody. And no justice for Ifeoma Abugu yet, even as you read this.
Godgift Ferguson Ekerete – 24, Tony Oruama – 21, Harry Ataria – 26, were arrested during a raid and then killed in detention that same day on 3 July 2008. They were allegedly accused of being armed robbers and cultists. The police officers responsible for the atrocity are yet to be brought to book as you read this.
Kolade Johnson was killed on March 31, 2019, by a SARS officer, for ‘looking like a fraudster’. He left his home to watch Liverpool vs Tottenham Spurs match and never returned. The officer responsible remains a free man as you read this.
Chibuike Anams, 23, had his life cut short on July 24, 2009, when the Nigerian Police raided a Guest House in Rivers State. After several searches at police stations, his family later found out about his death. The police refused to comment on his death and no investigation was ever made into it.
Tina Ezekwe – 16, was hit by a stray bullet on May 26, 2020, when a drunken police officer opened fire to disperse a crowd that had gathered after he shot a bus driver who refused to give him bribe. She was rushed to the hospital and died two days after. Justice has not been served even though it is one of the most unpopular police killings in recent times.
Christain Onuigbo – 28, was shot on March 19, 2009, while parking his car in Jiwa, Abuja. He was then taken to the police station, where he spent a night before transferring him to a hospital that could not treat him because he had no police report – he died two days after he was shot, on March 21, 2019.
Ayomide Taiwo – 20, was returning back home on August 9, 2020, after the Eid-el-Kabir celebration in Osogbo, Osun state, with his friend when their motorcycle was stopped by a drunken SARS officer. One of the officers however saw that he had more money on him than the amount he gave to them, Ayomide was attacked by the drunken officer with his instrument of death – the gun purchased by Nigerian taxpayers, and the young man died later, having remained in coma for 6 days.
Aneke Okorie – 39, a father of four, was making a honest living operating Okada. On May 15, 2009, he was stopped at a checkpoint in Emene, Enugu. Unable to pay the bribe demanded from him by the police, he was shot and later died on his way to the hospital.
Tiyamiu Kazeem – 21, a footballer with Remo Stars Football Club, Sagamu, Ogun State, in Nigeria’s South-West geopolitical Zone, was stopped by SARS officials on February 24, 2020, for no justifiable reason and as they were forcefully taking him into custody, he fell out of the SARS vehicle and was ran over by another moving vehicle. This sparked protests in Sagamu which led to death of 5 people, allegedly shot and killed by the police.
Peter Chibuzor Ofurum – was a UNIPORT student, who was shot and killed on April 11, 2016, during students’ protest organised to oppose increase of school fees. His school authority denied him as one of their students, even though he was the President of Management Science of the school at the time of his death.
Daniel Ikeaguchi – 20 and his friend were waiting outside a hotel, for a taxi in Rivers State, when he saw SARS officers coming their way, and they decided running away for fear of being arrested or extorted. The officers shouted at them to stop and at the same time accused them of being thieves. The young men stopped and surrendered themselves for a search by these mighty SARS officers. It was on the process of searching them that one of the officers shot Daniel, arrested them, and took both of them away, without medical treatment on the man they shot. That was how Daniel died.
Linda Igwetu – on July 4, 2018, having just finished her Youth Service in Abuja, was shot by a SARS officer; known only as Benjamin, while she was returning home with friends. She was rushed to a hospital but the doctor refused to treat her because there was no police report and she died.
Chukwuemeka Mathew Onovo – 22, left his father’s house on July 4, 2008, and unfortunately, there was a shootout between the Police and some people and Chukwuemeka was hit by a stray bullet. When Chukwuemeka’s father got to the Police and demanded the where-about of his son, the police told him that his son was an armed robber, and that closed the case of Chukwuemeka.
What are your feeling after going through this short odyssey of Nigerian victims in the hands of police officers, ab initio recruited, and being financed, to protect the people?
The next stage is reading the interview Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma; the Executive Director – Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, granted to the Punch Newspaper of October 25, 2020, on the notorious roles SARS played while prosecuting police functions. The man; Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma, using one particular operational base-center of SARS in Awkuzu, Anambra State – South/East geopolitical zone of Nigeria, painted vividly the amount of human and material calamity SARS brought on Nigeria and Nigerians. We shall be reading the horrible details tomorrow, in this column also.
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
Facebook: Godwin Etakibuebu
Facebook Page: Veteran Column
Phone: +234-906-887-0014 – short messages only.
You can also listen to this author [Godwin Etakibuebu] every Monday; 9:30 – 11am on Lagos Talk 91.3 FM live, in a weekly review of topical issues, presented by The News Guru [TNG].