I enjoy reading the attack and counter attack (rejoinder) on the above subject matter. The first appeared in the opinion page of your widely read newspaper of July 15th, 1991 and was written by one Mr. James Ogah explaining the wrong actions of the Nigeria’s police force, while the attack on it, “Re: Policing the Police” was launched by one Dama Kolo from Sokoto in the Democrat of August 21, 1991.
The second writer, who though claimed not to be in the police force, wrote to paint a good image of the Force which to him is innocent and does not deserve the public victimization and the malicious write-up by the first writer. This prompted me into sending my opinion on this sensitive topic.
I may agree with Mr. Kolo that a police station is not a bank, in reproving the assertion made by Mr. Ogah. The reason advanced by Mr. Kolo is that the police force is not a financial institution. Yet it is not known or created to be a financial institution, not even in name. With covert and overt styles of extorting money from offenders and members of the public who for reason of protection and security, come to lodge complaints, make the public assume that the police station is not only a mere bank but also an insurance corporation. They receive bribes, for instance from drivers of commuter vehicles, for assurance and guarantee of easy liberation whenever they get into their nets.
Not only that, the police station is also a black market where properties recovered from the public (like from the hawkers and road side dealers) are sold arbitrarily and illegally to other members of the public and sometimes freely given to their cronies and relatives.
With the foregoing, we could understand why Mr. Kolo wrote that through his experience in many states of the federation, that he had never seen or heard where a police station becomes a bank. This shows his misunderstanding of the concept of banking. He should not expect a poor villager who has a saving-locker where he keeps and withdraws his money to register with the Central Bank first before being entitled to call his money locker a bank.
In paragraph seven, Mr. Ogah mentioned that “it is clear the police of the present generation cannot be deceived by the value of the Naira.” This he made in reference to an insinuation over the allegation of corruption against the investigating police officers by Mr. James. Though I don’t know what generation of Nigerian police he is attempting to make a comparison with. If it is the past generation of police, then he should read the history of dedicated and committed hardworking policemen and women who participated in the struggle for Nigeria to achieve her independence. Nigerian historians and political analysts would tell him that there was no pint of corruption in the force in the yesteryears, for to give or receive bribes was bizarre then and was like committing a great offence in that era.
In a concluding paragraph to the rejoinder, I could not but roll on the floor with uncontrollable laughter when the writer mentioned that the police are the greatest enemies of criminals. If the writer has not come across stories of policemen caught stealing, raping young girls, or helping others to commit such crimes, he must, if he has been current on Nigerian happenings, have heard of a dare devil police officer in the name of ASP Iyamu of the then Bendel State Police Force who was convicted and executed for conspiring with Nigeria’s most wanted criminals, Anini and Monday Osunbor in armed robbery.
I call on those who blindly commend the Nigeria Police to desist from such praise singing until they improve in their attitudes and conducts. The men and women in the force must be told of their sins for truthful reflection.
This rejoinder by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in The Democrat Sept 17, 1991