By Nelson Ekujimi
Days after the #EndSARS protest which started as a campaign against the alleged brutality and abuse of citizens rights by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria police force turned bloody resulting in orchestrated arson attacks, reckless attacks and killings of persons both civilians and security agents, burning and looting of public and private properties across the country, there is an uneasy calm as grief, despondency and anger still reign in the air.
While the injured and those who have lost their loved ones and private properties count their losses, bear and nurse the immeasurable pain and trauma, the government and the citizenry are yet to come to terms with the level of destruction and sacrilege committed in the guise of a supposed peaceful protest.
Today as we write, businesses have been closed down and life brought to a halt for some, commuters are bearing the pains of the destruction and disruption of public transportation system occasioned by the burning of public mass transit buses by agents of darkness, same way as the motoring public come to terms with agonizing traffic gridlock brought about by the absence of official traffic management agencies on the roads. Citizens have become very apprehensive about security due to lack of visible presence of security agents unlike in the past when even if we don’t see them physically, but psychologically, we can feel their presence through patrols on motor bikes and vehicles, checkpoints and police stations.
Presently, the morale of our security agencies are at the lowest ebb due to the burning of police stations, killing of security agents and carting away arms and ammunition by criminals masquerading as protesters while the society that is supposed to rally round them in defence, either by complicity or fear, looks the other way and applaud.
Whether we like it or not, our security agencies mirror us as a people, whatever has become of our security agencies is a true picture of whom we are. For instance, at traffic intersections across the world, including our small neighbours like Republic of Benin, Togo, Ghana, etc, the motoring public complies almost absolutely to traffic regulations controlled by traffic lights and signs even as human traffic agents are just on standby, but not in Nigeria, where the traffic lights and signs have no meaning, where the traffic official has to arm himself with a symbol of force such as a rifle, baton or improvised stick or cudgel just to enforce compliance on our roads, that is how bad our situation is.
All over the world, the police is your friend, but in Nigeria due to a number of factors of which we are all culpable, reverse is the case. Yet, we blame the police and look down on them as if they are a special specie of humans from mars who are the architect of our problems, but is that so? Absolutely not.
As we count our loses and try to come to terms with the psychological trauma and damage to the psyche of the Nigerian people and the police in particular in this period of national call for the reform of the police as an institution, there is the urgent need for us to put on our thinking caps and proffer workable solution so that we don’t go back to our vomit.
One of the ways to reform our policing institution in this trying times even as the various states panels on inquiry is sitting, is for the Community Development Associations (CDA) at our various communities, to physically visit the destroyed and burnt police stations to commiserate with the officers and men and also try to physically visit families of injured and slain police officers in the line of duty to share in their pain and grief.
We should in the interim at the various communities where police stations have been burnt, officers and men attacked, assure the men and officers that we condemn this dastardly act of violence against them and will never support such, no matter the circumstances.
Communities who are desirous of lifting the demoralized morale of the police, should immediately improvised a habitat, for burnt police stations as a show of solidarity and support pending when the government will rebuild the destroyed buildings.
As the Inspector General of Police (IGP) embarks on a morale boosting visiting tour of police formations across the country, we must also realize that the reform of the police is a collective exercise that must see us walking the talk and it must begin from now.
The police as an institution charged with the responsibility of protecting life and property as well as maintaining law and order no matter it’s imperfections, is one agency of state that no society can do without else such a society will degenerate into the Hobbesian state of nature. That is the plan of the criminals who unleashed violence on the police and our society and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that their plan fails and it should.