The Nigeria Police and Acts of Covering Up

The Slogan “Police is your friend” which is quite popular in Nigeria only generates sneers and sarcasm from an average Nigerian. This is understandable considering the many unpleasant reports one hears about the attrocities being committed by some members of the Nigerian Police Force.

The men in uniform, on being admitted into the Police Force are made to pledge to enforce the laws of the land and protect the lives and properties of the citizens. However, the reverse is the case for some elements (who are becoming quite a large number) in the Force. m There is hardly a day you go through the dailies and there is no report of Police brutality.

The recent killing of one Mrs Funmilayo Abudu in Sagamu, Ogun State, South West Nigeria gives a lot for concern especially as she was killed during the yuletide when most families were rejoicing. The Nigerian Police claims that she was the leader of a purported robbery gang while the family and other members of the society vows for the innocence of the woman, who was said to be until her death, a staff of a Farm. In actual fact, she was reportedly sent to purchase diesel for the farms when she ran into a crossfire between the Police and armed robbers. The Police in their usual manner have maintained a hard stance refusing to admit that she was killed in error. To add to the misery of the deceased’s family, they have refused to release her body for burial.

This is not the first time that members of the Nigerian Police Force will kill innocent citizens either in error or brazenly and to conjure a cover up. We have had instances where young men have been felled by Police bullets unjustly and the Police will rush to the media with false allegations even displaying weapons purportedly found on their victims. It has however not been common to have women as their victims. That is why this latest dimension gives cause for worry.

No one is saying women do not commit crime or that a woman can not be the leader of a robbery gang. We have seen situations where banks were robbed led by a woman. But in the case of Mrs Abudu, there have been public outcry. Her colleagues at her work place have come to defend her innocence. Her relatives have spoken glowingly of her and even neighbours have come to desribe her as one who was only struggling to keep body and soul together with her employment at the Farms. The Policemen who perpetrated the act as usual, have been faceless being protected by the Police Force. There has been no convincing statements from the Police to show that the woman was justly killed in self defence by the Police.

When Uzoma Okeke (another victim of Force assault) was assaulted by Naval ratings in Lagos, Nigeria recently, there was so much public outcry which even warranted the case being mentioned on the floor of the national assembly and earned her an invitation by the Governor of Lagos State. This makes me to begin to wonder if we are all actually equal before the law. What gives the Nigerian Poilice the impetus to continue to hold on to Abudu’s body? Is it because unlike Uzoma, she did not live to tell her side of the story? Or because she did not have a father who was anyhow connected to the seat of power? Many questions begging for an answer while the spirit of Funmilayo Abudu cries “Who willl speak for me?” Like the saying goes, “When beggars die there are no comets seen.”

Oluseyi Davies works as a legal secretary in Lagos, Nigeria.

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