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
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
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
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?
- Cop killed in Kaduna blast is ‘competent bomb expert’ (kayceeweezy.wordpress.com)