#EndSARS Is Inadequate: The Entire Nigeria Police Force Is Rotten

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#EndSARS: Police Defends SARS – Those Calling For Scrapping “May Likely Be Armed Robbers”

#EndSARS Is Inadequate: The Entire Nigeria Police Force Is Rotten By Churchill Okonkwo

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The rot in the entire Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is terrifying. The current agitation for the scrapping of SARS is like cutting off one wild branch of an evil tree and expecting the new sprout to be different or the evil tree to die. Without necessarily downplaying the importance of the current protest and agitations, I dare say that #EndSARS is too narrow and any outcome will be inconsequential in changing the character of NPF. What the hawk gives birth to will not fail to carry chickens.

This piece was written by Churchill Okonkwo. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

With that preamble, it is obvious that only radical and sweeping changes will transform the Nigerian Police. The fact is that the Nigeria Police Force, as a whole, is murderous, corrupt, ineffective, lazy, criminally-minded and worst of all, not ready for reform. The present NPF denotes guttering that had corroded, vibrated in the wind, half held by the brackets but not willing to fall. For a new Nigeria Police Force to rise, this present disgrace must fall. Unfortunately, #EndSARS will have an insignificant effect on a Police Force that was recently rated the worst in the world.

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The worst of the NPF is the culture of see-no-evil, hear-no-evil and cover-ups. Nobody is policing the police in Nigeria. That’s why they can beat up and kill suspects at will and are not afraid of being arrested. In their twisted minds, they are challenging, “who is going to tame us? We are the Nigerian police and we are in charge.” Unfortunately for Nigerians, the legislature that should be checking the excesses of NPF keep mum because they are the major beneficiary.

Refusing to acknowledge that the degree of rottenness in the Nigeria Police Force is beyond scrapping of SARS certainly means that the current protests and rallies will come to nothing. Before this momentum fizzles out, therefore, Nigerians should define clear goals and sweeping demands that will have a lasting impact on the overall operations of the Nigeria Police Force.

The convener #EndSARS, Mr. Segun Awosanya, said that SARS has “outlived its usefulness and now constitutes a clear and present threat to the safety, well-being, and welfare of most Nigerians.” The truth; the entire NPF notorious for extrajudicial murder (e.g., APO Six), wrongful search and arrest, registration of false cases, conducting illegal operations and worst, disregarding the directive of the IG of police to dismantle illegal roadblocks has outlived its usefulness.

Disbandment of SARS may be soothing to their victim for a night, but thousands of Nigerians will suffer the same or worse abuse under the operation of NPF. It is encouraging, though, to see Nigerians are getting involved and flooding social media with tales of extrajudicial killings, torture, wanton arrests for bribes and other menacing conducts. But, it is not by staring hard that one sees the road. We have been through this circus before.

In January 2005, Tafa Balogun was forced to resign and was replaced by Sunday Ehindero, who scrapped the notorious “Operation Fire-for-Fire,” stressing the need to move away from “authoritarian and symbolic justice” to a more accountable and responsive force. A new slogan, “To serve and protect with integrity,” was chosen to reflect that shift.

That cosmetic approach did not give Nigerians a police force that served or protected the citizen with integrity. If it did, we would not be talking about ending SARS, which is no different than “Operation Fire-for-Fire.” Another bitter truth; the Nigerian Police cannot give us what they don’t have. The rank and file of Nigerian Police have brutality and abuse of power in their DNA. So, how is anything going to change? The madmen of SARS are dancing to the sound of the drums beaten for them by the leadership as of the Nigeria Police Force. To stop the dance, we have to stop those beating the drums.

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Calling for the immediate dissolution of SARS will get a boost from the likes Atiku seeking cheap political attention. However, it will be more helpful if serving and former public office holders like the governors, ministers and senators will allow the Nigerian Police to serve and protect the public. When the instrument of law protection turns into an instrument of lawlessness and protecting big men and the wealthy, you begin to wonder what #EndSARS will achieve.

Instead of being an instrument to enforce the rule of law, the Nigerian Police is increasingly seen as a pliable tool in the hands of unscrupulous politicians, business moguls and many unpatriotic Nigerians. You only need to observe the number of policemen attached to politicians and these business moguls to realize that we are a long way off.

This troubling departure from what a law enforcement agency should be is all very self-evident to anyone that has used the hashtag #EndSARS. It is not the weaker sections, which includes women, children, old people, the poor and handicapped – the law abiding citizens – that need the police more than other sections of the society? The present energy we are spending in #EndSARS at a time when progress is urgently needed in transforming the entire police should be redirected.

My point, therefore, is that we should not limit our protest to the narrow and insignificant demand for the scrapping of SARS or for the name of the operation to be changed. It’s a waste of time and resources. The scrapping of SARS will, if anything, have a marginal impact. Is there anyone out there who believes that our police force is not in need of deep-seated repair?

The only thing that will change the impunity and rot in the NPF is a radical shift from the status quo.  To change the rot in the NPF, we need radical measures from within the force starting with overhauling the leadership. We need a radical leadership shakeup to be spearheaded by a special crack team, trained abroad and brought back with the singular purpose of overhauling the NPF.  It will need the support of the executive and legislative arms of government.

Maybe it’s time to think of Police Crime and Corruption Commission (PCCC). We need a strong and well-financed Special Prosecutor who is appointed and reports to the Police Service Commission and the not the Police Inspector-General. Until we get an independent and fearless prosecutor working with a crack team at the top to clear the rot in the leadership as well as the rank and file of the Nigerian Police, #EndSARS will fizzle out like the rest of online driven protests in Nigeria with fuzzy goals.

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#EndSARS: Police Defends SARS – Those Who Want It Scrapped “May Likely Be Armed Robbers”

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The activities of the entire NPF are stinking like a decaying corpse buried in a shallow grave. The Nigerian Police is the head of the corpse, while SARS is just the feet. To be effective in stopping the stench; we have to dig from the head and not the feet. Changing the Nigerian police culture of brutality, indiscipline, non-professionalism, corruption, etc. will not emerge from the narrow cause of campaigning for scrapping of SARS.

In the final analysis, the Nigerian Police is rotten, #EndSARS is too narrow to be effective. Overhauling the entire Nigeria Police Force, #OverhaulNPF should be the reasonable goal.

You can email Churchill at churchill.okonkwo@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi.

This piece was written by Churchill Okonkwo. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.



I am but your herald boy in the art of the pen.. An eccentric Environmental Biologist smouldered in the glorious epiphany of online journalism. If you ever find my article unduly insipid, sue me and i’ll refund you...

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