The rot in the Nigeria Police Force has stayed too long. In a group of ten, more than seven usually have one tale or the other to tell about the Nigeria Police Force for the wrong reasons. It’s high time we began to hold them by The Law. But at what cost? They are the ones with guns and threats aren’t far from them. I’ll share my story.
Early this year, (January 30, to be precise), I followed my friend to unblock his Taxify driver’s account on the Island. Going back to Ogba, while gisting with my friend faintly and chatting with my babe, my phone was snatched.
I had wound-down the glass to help him adjust the side-mirror on my side of the car. Being me, I made an attempt to give the snatcher a chase. We were stuck in traffic and the car was moving very slowly, which gave him the opportunity to observe us from a distance and pick out my most vulnerable time to attack. Before I could loose the seatbelt and step out, there was already much distance between us. I am tall and it gave me an advantage to see him afar off as he maneuvered his way to escape. I followed him.
I watched him disappear into the dark as it was late and time was about 8-9 pm. Getting to the end of my view of the snatcher, I met a guy who directed me to another path completely different from the one I saw the snatcher run into. I immediately knew they were together. I held him by his belt and demanded he produce the guy with my phone. By this time, people were already gathering to ‘deal’ with him; you know how Lagos can be when a thief is caught. The fact that they found a phone on him that had a woman as the wallpaper didn’t help his case as he claimed the phone was his yet, he couldn’t unlock the phone.
My friend and myself practically had to beg those ‘beating this thief’ and edging towards jungle justice before he was released to us. They locked him in our car boot and we decided to drive him to Area G at Ogba. I was inconvenient with him in the boot. I asked my friend to stop the car and have him seat at the back while I hold on to him. He stopped at the next bus stop. I asked ‘the thief’ to come out of the boot, unaware that police officers were somewhere at the roundabout close by.
They ‘acted’ like policemen and demanded to know why we had a man in the boot. They were almost trying to rope us in by pointing out ‘our error’, but for the intervention of a couple who saw what happened earlier and knew how he got into the boot.
Long story short, the police officers entered our car and asked we all go to the station. En route to the station, the phone on him rang and the officers asked him to answer his call. It was there he confessed he snatched the phone.
The officers were men from the Isheri Police Station. We got to the station and they took my statement and the guy’s, after he confessed to the crime. Then began my issue with the Police.
The guy told them he could take them to the place where the snatcher would be found. The officer on duty, a woman, almost slapped him. She told us how regular police officers weren’t trained to arrest criminals and that only SARS officers could arrest ‘boys’ from the area ‘the suspect’ mentioned. That was the beginning of my knowledge of the Nigeria Police officers’ many ill-workings.
It took them 3 days to process his transfer to the Force Headquarters at Ikeja, where he was subsequently transferred to the FSARS Annex at Mushin. I had to pay for the Uber they ordered to transport the guy because, according to them, they had no car/van to transport him. My experience with the FSARS, I’d rather not dwell on. I spent almost N20K transporting myself from Ogba to and fro for the most of 3 weeks, aside calls and all.
Believe me when I tell you this; the IPO in charge of the case knew everyone the guy mentioned. He made it so glaring for the blind to see and so loud for the deaf to hear that he couldn’t arrest them for whatever reason(s).
My friends had told me before to just forget the phone, telling me somehow the Police will try to exploit me and end up not doing any real thing about it. I chose to ignore their advice and chose to believe in the system for justice, or at least prove the rot in the system. True, they proved the rot.
From asking me to buy case files to constantly complaining to me about how I need to pay for this and that; I started to lose interest.
Not for the money. It isn’t that I have more than enough, but it was saddening to see what has become of a group meant to protect the common man. I had stuffs I was working-on on the phone. Somethings are priceless.
The owner of the phone on the guy I arrested called on the day my phone was snatched. From the way the officers spoke to him, I knew he wasn’t getting that phone free. At least, not from the Isheri Police officers. The policewoman in charge of the case had him follow us all through to FSARS Annex at Mushin; the man knew his right and wasn’t ready to party with a dime, not with the way the officers were conducting themselves. Well, he was given his phone at the FSARS Annex after he was called out, away from me. He later told me he gave them ‘something for recharge card’.
They arrested no one. The guy with them confessed to a crime and was willing to take them where the guy with my phone was, but they wouldn’t go. They did nothing other than detaining the guy. It was saddening to discover the common man can’t get justice and protection from the system.
All of these and many more ills I hear about the Nigeria Police make me wonder if this is the law enforcement body we’d bequeath to coming generations. We can’t! We must make it better. The Nigeria Police Force needs reformation, if not a total overhaul.
Written by: Akintomide Aroso