The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has on the 21st of December, 2023 dismissed two members named Kareem Fatai and Jimoh Abdul-Lukman. The two special police constables were caught on camera demanding money from an international Dutch tourist while riding through in Oyo state, southwestern of the country.
The NPF Oyo command had earlier on December 8th, arrested the two constables after the video went viral. The decision, while being a right one, is a huge slap on the entire Nigerian police force; it casts a shade of disgrace on the nation, but it undeniably marks a right step in the right direction.
Nigerian police as an institution was revealed to be the most corrupt institution in Nigeria according to a survey released by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in 2019 entitled “Nigeria: Corruption Perception Survey”.
According to the report, “the police were the most adversely ranked on this indicator. For every 100 police interactions reported by the respondents, there was a bribe paid in 54 interactions. The prevalence levels stood at 37% in the power sector and 18% in education,17.7% in the judiciary and 14% in the health sector.
“Fifty-one percent of the individuals who paid bribes to the police and 35 percent to the power sector believed this was the only way to access the services sought from the institutions.”
Also, sometime in July this year, the Police Service Commission (PSC) approved the dismissal of three senior police officers over cases of misconduct and abuse of office. In a similar vein, two officers attached to Adamawa State Police Command, Nigeria Northeast were tried and dismissed in August this year from service for wrongdoing.
While the above-highlighted cases with this recent one exposed the rot that had been perforated by some men of NPF, it is hoped that the institution will continue to reaffirm its commitment to individual freedom and liberty. Every citizen, whether local or international, deserves to move freely without fear of exploitation by those tasked with ensuring their safety.
Though, in alignment with the released video of the recent case, the tones used by the dismissed officers revealed no duress or usage of force, but some men of NPF usually frown against the use of cameras by Nigerians especially when issues between them are getting intense. The case might not even see the light of the day, assuming it is concerning a Nigerian lad.
The two dismissed officers were unlucky and yet, fortunately, happened to be scapegoats. This incident is not only on a deterrence level but appears to be a strong message that the role of technology in holding authorities accountable is often inevitable. We are currently in an era where information can be disseminated globally within seconds. If this couldn’t send a stern warning, then a conclusion can be reached that some adamant members of the NPF are always thinking with their anuses.
The members of NPF should stick to their mantra known as “Police is Your Friend”. They should always take the liberty of people into consideration while performing their duty. The public trusts the police, but ironically, some men of NPF often violate the trust. The NPF should understand that when those entrusted with maintaining order violate this trust, it not only deteriorates the fabric of a just society but also sabotages the very essence of democracy.
Mistrust is a key major challenge facing the Police, and this is due to prevalent corruption. Men of NPF often resort to bribery and extortion in its operations. There is no need for a surprise sometimes if crimes go unreported: it only tells that the institution is more interested in making money than in protecting the masses.
The government can not be left out of this saga. The federal government should keep trying its best in investing in policing. The welfare of “an average police operative is taken for granted by the same system that engaged their services. This may explain why they tend to vent their frustrations on members of the public”, and most times, resort to extortion. There is a need for the federal government to increase funding for the men of the police force to keep them on morale and morally upright.
In conclusion, while the swift action taken by NPF Oyo state command is commendable, it is hoped that all other commands across the federation, in case of subsequent cases of misconduct within the police force, are met with swift and transparent consequences. It will further preserve and strengthen the liberties of the people.
(This piece was also republished by Sahara Reporters)
Hammed J. Sulaiman is a product of law, a social activist, and a multimedia freelance journalist with footprints in academics and administration. He currently heads the Editorial Team at The Liberalist. He can be reached: email@example.com