Over ten days since the Inspec-tor General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, ordered the Assistant Inspectors General, AIGs and Commissioners of Police, COMPOLs, to mobilise police personnel back to their beats, Nigerians have had to endure the unsavoury and uncanny situation of near-total absence of law enforcement agents in the polity.
In the major urban areas, lack of presence of law enforcers, coupled with the destruction of traffic lights by hoodlums, has worsened traffic nightmares. In some neighbourhoods, “area boys” and armed robbers have operated unchallenged, while travellers have been extorted and robbed on the highways.
Several reasons are adduced for the failure of policemen and women to resume their duties. Over 200 police stations were destroyed, while several police officers lost their lives during the anarchy. Many police officers lack the necessary equipment and facility to do their work. The Force as a whole is still moody over the public uprising against them.
Whatever it may be, we call on the police authorities to encourage their officers and men to snap out of it and resume duty. The Constitution mandates the Police to act as the primary state agency of law enforcement in our democracy. There is no condition under which the Constitution allows the country to go unpoliced.
Rather than deliberately fold their arms, the Police and all agencies of security and law enforcement should learn from what happened and put it behind them. The people are the masters of all government employees from top to bottom.
The #EndSARS protest was a patriotic action aimed at eliminating rogue behaviour among our policemen while also prevailing on the Federal Government to improve their lot in terms of remuneration, welfare, training and equipment. There is also the need to weed out bad eggs from the Force, while the citizenry must learn to respect and appreciate the efforts of the Police to serve and protect them.
We cannot do without the Police, and they cannot do without us. Gone forever should be the situation where police officers believe they can intimidate, harass, extort or even kill fellow citizens “and nothing will happen”. This is no longer acceptable.
We look forward to our policemen and women coming back to their beats and performing their jobs in a manner to rebuild trust, confidence and cooperation with members of the public. The mantra: “Police is your friend”, should be put in practice.
As the federal and various state governments have set up panels of inquiry to probe the problems that led to the protest with a view to bringing lawbreakers to book, we urge the leaders of the protest and social advocacy groups to prevail on government to implement the agenda for Police reform.
Police personnel are also victims of bad government. We must also fight for them.