No quick fix for police brutality – The Nation Nigeria

No quick fix for police brutality – The Nation Nigeria

Sola Adeyoose

SIR: These past days have been an admixture of joy and sorrow. That the youth can speak in unison and with resonating power is truly inspiring and engenders hope in the future. The protests have birthed some wins. But some of our friends have had to pay the ultimate price. Amnesty International reports that 10 people have been killed since these protests started. This does not need to continue.

Our agitations have been acknowledged in the relevant quarters. And there are many ongoing conversations with those in authority on how to institute the reforms we have been canvassing for. SARS has been disbanded and the president mentioned that the disbandment of SARS is only a step in the process of instituting wide based reforms to curb the impunity in the police. He has promised that rogue police officers will be investigated and subsequently brought to justice.

Because of the precedents of this government and failed attempts at reforming SARS in the past, it does not seem like we can afford the luxury of trust. And as such, many of us will like to see more concrete signs of commitment. It will be nice to see government address all our demands, but we need not stay any longer on the streets and risk further descent into chaos, with significant impact on the lives of ordinary Nigerians whose interests we are equally seeking to protect.

Further protests will likely not give us more tangible wins than we already have and it will be an additional disruption in the lives of Nigerians. We need to count the costs even as we imagine our wins. A onetime showdown, no matter the magnitude, cannot solve all the problems. The fight against injustice has to be continuous. Conscious vigilance and consistent efforts are more important. As such, it is wiser to live to fight another day.

We cannot do away with the burden of trust. What we do at every election cycle is place our trusts in select individuals who are supposed to represent our interests and institute policies as we want them. Our greatest power is not in organizing protests. Our greatest power is in our votes. Only when we are able to organize ourselves to determine the outcomes of elections will we be able to exercise the most influence. Police brutality is a symptom of the dysfunction in the police. The dysfunction is far reaching; therefore, reforms must be multi-layered. Thankfully many of us already understand this. There’s no difference between the character of the average police man and that of those in the SARS unit. It’s only that those in SARS have more freedom to operate.

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Earlier this year, the Inspector General of Police even gave an order that there should be no requirements in police recruitment. That means anyone and everyone, even without any form of education, can join the police. The most obvious of the impunity is how police officers collect money with entitlement from commercial motorists on our highways. The NURTW is not complaining. They have at least not joined these protests. And I think that’s revealing. I bet it’s not because they like to be generous, but because they understand that he who must come to equity must come with clean hands.

The police, like every single one of our MDAs, is a cesspit of fraud and extortion. Sadly, they bear arms and interact with every facet of society. No magic wand can reform our institutions overnight. If things will change in the police, we need to put in place stringent entry requirements, there has to be continuous training and retraining, remuneration and welfare needs to be well catered for, extant laws like the anti-torture act needs to be enforced, and clear cut sanctions must be enforced to deal with erring officers. The vigilance of citizens is needed to achieve our desired results. That’s why the silence of the NURTW is worrisome.

The protests have served their function. Kudos to everyone who participated. The government has responded. Arrested protesters are already being released, the National Human Rights Commission is to set up an independent investigation panel to probe SARS officers in the next one week, SARS officers have been ordered to Abuja for debriefing and psychological evaluation.  What we need to do now is be vigilant and monitor implementation of the promises. Too many people have died already. There’s no reason to still be on the streets. The protests should not be for photo ops or for vengeance. Our voices have been heard. Wisdom calls for calm.

  • ‘Sola Adeyoose, Lagos.

Published at Thu, 15 Oct 2020 16:50:00 +0000

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Source: No quick fix for police brutality – The Nation Nigeria

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