The Future of Nigeria’s Dumb Policing

I picked up playing basketball late in my secondary school years and

usually practiced at the nearest court to my house. It was the Police

College basketball court on Independence Way, Kaduna. It was about 2

kilometers from my house and sometimes, I would task myself to jog non-

stop from our doorway to the court. Other times, I’d take a bike or walk in

the company of my friends. Because I was obsessed with the game at that

time, I often went there twice daily, morning and evening. This afforded

me the opportunity to interact with potential cops, and see their learning

environment.

Before I proceed, I should tell you that I attended a public boarding

secondary school for three years and graduated from a federal university.

The facilities were bad and inadequate. For the two years I lived on

campus, I never slept in my bunk bed alone and we were often closer to

30 than 20 in rooms made for eight. The water was often brown and we

did most of our bowel-movement business in the bushes. Every Unilorite

knows this as “Attack!” As a computer science student, I never saw the

computer lab as it was always under lock. My result slips always had

spaces as one or two exam papers would have gone “missing.” Graduation

could not come soon enough.

Now, the situation at this Police College, Kaduan, far outweighed what I

have described above. Their bathrooms were super-filthy and so were the

kitchens. When cadets went to get their food, they always took small flasks,

the kind that wouldn’t fill a five-year-old. I couldn’t even look at their food

most of the time. They didn’t have a dining area, so everyone took his/her

food back to their rooms. And you don’t even want to get me started on

those. Let’s just say they had more bed bugs than beddings!

Many may not know but a significant number of police cadets got in by

sports scholarships. These cadets would have to participate in sports

through-out their tuition, as they had to win medals for their respective

colleges at sports meets. Back then, one of the ladies I interacted with

told me she and her friends had to travel to these meets on their own

most times. She said the lecturers were not sympathetic to them and their

special arrangements and she had to sleep with one just to move ahead.

And the classes themselves, unbelievably atrocious! There were no good

boards in the over-crowded classes and not once did I notice a Forensics

Class in session. I never saw a shooting range either.

While these issues used to give me grief, I never connected what I saw

in the Police College with the conditions of the Constitution Road Police

Barracks, which I used to pass through on my daily runs to the court. Most

of the house were at varying grades of disrepair and sewage gushed from

their broken septic tanks. The walls all needed painting, some mending. It

was an eye-sore. Looking back, I now see how crazy it must have been for

a cadet to see how bad his present situation was and how miserable his

future promised to be. Tragic.

Three separate occurrences have pushed me to write this piece. First is

the funny cop, who washed the scene (with water and broom, no less) after

The Guardian reporter, Bayo Ohu’s murder in 2010. The poor chap was

thinking he needed to clean the place before sympathizers’ arrival. He had

probably never heard the word “Forensics” before… or since.

Second is the armed robbery incident I barely survived last year. It

happened in Zuba, on the outskirts of Abuja, at about 10 pm. That they

collected everything from me, excluding the laptop on which I am typing

this, is not the story. The gist is that I am 110% sure those robbers were

police officers! They had on green combat trousers, black vests and black

boots. Which career robber wears boots to an operation? The leader

was called “Sergeant” twice. It was other cops shooting in the air from

a distance that saved us. And those ones did not even allow us to file a

report. Cowards!

Lastly, and most tragically, is the case of Sergeant Sunday Badang. That

is the guy who got himself blown up while trying to defuse a bomb in Kawo,

Kaduna. I still find it hard to fathom why a man, with all his faculties intact,

would knowingly attempt to unwrap a possible explosive right in the middle

of a war with a terrorist group. What was fueling this guy’s confidence?

Alcohol? He didn’t stagger to the bomb, did he? His faith? Didn’t see

charms, crosses or rosaries either. What was on this mad man’s mind?

We will never know why this man made this fatal move but one thing is

sure; Sergeant Sunday was not trained for the job. But how many Nigerian

cops are trained for anything? They can’t disperse a mob without force,

effect an arrest without being rude nor be polite when they want to stop

and search you. Most of them dress worse than touts, drink and smoke

while in uniform and on duty. They shoot citizens and colleagues alike

over the smallest disagreements. The case of the officer that was burnt to

death after killing a driver in Abeokuta is fresh in my mind. They wield their

AK47s in your face at every excuse. They are mostly crass, classless and

hopeless.

And yet, the government has a big security budget. What I would love to

know is, how much of this money is going into the training and retraining of

the rank and file of the police? When will they get better weapons training?

Better uniforms? Better pay? Prompt benefits payment? I know a family

whose willowed father died at the hands of robbers while on duty at a

bank in Ibadan. Four year on and not a kobo paid to the family. The two

orphans have been living with a petty trader with four kids of his own in a

one bedroom apartment. Will this one trillion ensure that this sad sight does

not happen to another family?

I just think Sergeant Sunday’s death, which is raking up views on YouTube,

is a water-shed moment. If the whole world didn’t know how clueless the

Nigerian police is, they know now. The time has come for the government

to stop burying their heads in the sand and make moves to solve this

problem. A policy to add quality people to the force needs to go into effect

today! 300, 000 policing 160 million is suicide.

I am glad the new Police IG is making the right noises but we have heard

that before. Oga Police, you have run out of excuses. Or do you need to

see your poor subordinate blown up on YouTube once more?

Gbenga Olorunpomi

@gbengaGOLD

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  1. #1 by shakaraman on February 16, 2012 - 20:23

    You know the Nigerian government sends top police officers to Police Training in the USA? All expenses paid,yet the officers don’t stay the whole program…..For a 2 week long seminars on policing and sensitivity training, and in most cases, these officers attend only a day or two of the training.

    The rest of the stay, is spent sight seeing the various cities, shopping and just messing around town. I personally asked one on a visit to Chicago if he saw any “road blocks” on the road and his response is that, it is a different reality in Nigeria and the road blocks are necessary….. just a thought.

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