By Godwin Etakibuebu
It was good that the Acting Inspector General of Police [IGP], Mohammed Adamu, was in Lagos yesterday, Monday, April 15, 2019, with a message of condolences to the families of those extra-judiciously killed by policemen and those merely but thoroughly brutalised to overwhelming submission.
In addition to this humanitarian mission, the IGP also introduced the Lagos State Police Command; the largest next to Abuja [if all things will ever remain equal] to the new direction the Police structure would be taking, under his command. It is called new direction.
In the latter, he made it clear enough that the Police High Command would never tolerate the situation where innocent citizens would be meeting their untimely death in the hands of drunk-like police officers and men any longer. He even brought in a caveat, to wit: henceforth Area Command, Divisional and Sectional Heads would be vicariously liable for the actions or inactions of men under them.
To me, this is a clarion call to responsible policing. If only for this alone, one should appreciate the voyage to Lagos of the IGP, if juxtaposed against the action his predecessor in office, the infamous Ibrahim Idris, would have taken under the same circumstances. On behalf of the people of Nigeria, I thank you fervently Mr Inspector General of Police.
Having done with the preamble, what are the reality of Police and Policing in Nigeria? We need to fervently interrogate this question more deeply in order to find the balancing line between a Peoples’ oriented Police and a Police of perpetual brutalization cum malady.
For if the truth must be told, what we have in Nigeria today, serving us “meritoriously”, is nothing but a monstrous entity, created, brought up and sustained along the ethos of brutalization and chaotic submission of the citizenry.
It does not matter therefore how much niceties and decorum Mohammed Adamu [the incumbent IGP] brings into the institution, the horrible foundation of the Police’s creating concept, shall always stand against him. Let us not forget in hurry that there had been some previous good Inspector Generals that performed creditably and touched the professional policing with human face and milk, yet they were doomed by mechanism of “fraught concept”, either while they were in office or out of office. What happened to such good IGPs was the erosion of good character by misfortune of foundational malady.
Ipso facto, IGP Mohammed Adamu’s good outing; adjudged so far, for nobody knows what he will become tomorrow, can only attract a temporary applause but will [I did not say “may”] never leave a legacy of operational efficiency that shall be divorced of maladies for the Nigeria Police.
There is a major structural default; a terrible dent, that began the Force in the beginning – talking of its foundation when it was set up. For us to know what the terrible issue with the Nigeria Police Force is, let us turn to the beginning when the Organisation was formed. Let us take a trip back to April 1861.
Stanhope Freeman, who was the Governor of British Africa Territories, discovered early enough in his assignment that the natives [call them aborigines if you like] were becoming more resistant to the Colonial Adventurists, most particularly the Lagos zone of the territory. The people in the Lagos area were particularly not finding it funny to submit themselves to the issue of tax payment [there is a song for it in Lagos till date on the resistance which says: “eyo o, eyo o, awa koni so owo onibode – odi ile e”].
This prompted Freeman to request from the Home Office approval to recruit some men for policing this area with the sole objective of “subduing the stubborn people”. This request was granted to him and the Consular Guard [as the police was then called] formed in April of 1861, made up of 30 men. The original concept and purpose of creating the Police was to get “some people from among themselves train and equip them, to be able to bring their people to total submission with absolute brutality”. I call this the concept of creation.
The new police, created and trained, had its first fire of baptism, so to say, in Epe where it [the Consular Guard] fiercely subdued, with maximum brutality, some people [indigenes] that rebelled against tax payment. The test of loyalty to the State against the people was efficiently proved in the Epe scenario.
This was what encouraged Captain John Glover R.N; Lieutenant Governor of Lagos, later in writing to the same Home Office for increase of the Consular Guard from 30 to 100 men. The justification pushed forward in that letter, written by Captain John Glover, so that the Home Office could act quickly, was to speak gloriously on the achievement of the 30 men of the Consular Guard in brutalizing the people of Epe.
And when the request was granted, the 100 men were recruited but all from one tribe in Nigeria [don’t forget that the name Nigeria was not in existence then] and the name was changed from Consular Guard to “Hausa Guard”. You just have to wait till last week if you really want to know the genesis of the Nigeria Police Force, where and how the malady that has trailed it from inception started.
Hold on till next week when l shall publish the letter on this page for your understanding.
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
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