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The police are out of control
IT was his earliest memory, a funeral on a bleak morning. The sky had hung out its washing and there was a steady drizzle. The men’s heads were bowed, in solemn respect and not in an attempt to deflect the drizzle. One man was protected by a roof of polished wood and did not move. There was freshly dug red earth and the breath was still in the man’s breast. But he was an old man and it was time to rest. The scene of sobbing melancholy told the boy that life should be respected and death should not be diminished by collectivising it, by mass harvesting it.
The police in Nigeria do not respect life and are responsible for the violent death of many Nigerians, most of them young people. One elderly man counted himself lucky after a brutal brush with three policemen one night. He was so savagely beaten that he vomited blood. He is alive after spending many days in hospital, but he has been softened up for death. He would have been dead that night if he had not desperately jumped when the motorcycle one of the policemen was riding hurtled towards him on the pavement. The other two policemen were passengers on the motorcycle. They battered the elderly man for mildly protesting against their lack of consideration for other road users.
The police are a byword for cruelty and cold-blooded murder. It seems the police force is a huge death squad and every policeman is a potential killer. One retired very senior police officer reportedly shot dead his wife in a hotel room in a jealous rage. But a gun in a cosy hotel room also suggested icy premeditation, a crime of passion that was planned and not committed in a moment of sudden, overpowering provocation. The case languishes in court.
The policemen who killed about five traders after robbing them of their money were sentenced to death. The policemen set fire to the car after killing the traders to give the impression that they died in a crash, but one of the traders had managed to escape and his testimony, coherently given in spite of his harrowing ordeal, firmly tied the policemen to the appalling crime. Have they been hanged?
Policemen have been getting away with murder and this has encouraged others to kill innocent Nigerians with unfeeling casualness. The policemen shoot to kill; in Akwa Ibom State a policeman moved very close, like a man about to embrace his lover, and shot a pregnant widow in the chest. Her crime was that she had asked policemen, who had turned themselves into debt collectors, to leave her landlord alone.
A woman in Lagos died a few hours after she was taken into custody by the police. A police officer, who is not a doctor, claimed that she died of high blood pressure, but her husband said her blood pressure had always been normal. The police had arrested the woman when her husband was not available for questioning. No policeman has been called to account for the woman’s unnatural death.
The dough of denial did not rise when the police in Lagos said they had nothing to do with the death of a baker. The baker was in good health and was in his bakery in Lagos when he was arrested by the police. The police said he had suddenly taken ill and could not be saved. The police accused him of trading in cannabis, apparently an offence that should be punished with extrajudicial death. The murdered man’s wife said her husband was clean and that if the police found cannabis in the bakery they must have planted it there. The police have often been accused of planting evidence.
Ademola Adedeji was a businessman in Lagos, the father of three young children. He left home one recent morning and his children have not seen him ever since. He is not a missing person, but he is gone forever, dead at the age of 39.
Cecilia, Mr Adedeji’s widow, said her husband was killed by the police. He died in custody after the company he did business with invited the police. The company said the late Mr Adedeji owed it money and he was made to pay with his life.
A police officer was said to have demanded the payment of a N1 million bribe before he would release Mr Adedeji on bail. It was 8 p.m. and the money could not be raised. Mr Adedeji was dead before dawn, a very healthy man the previous morn.
Sikiru Amusa and Endurance Omonyahuy were killed by the police in the noon of their lives, young men in their twenties or early thirties. They were drivers, but the police claimed they were armed robbers. The police had no proof and did not try to arrest the men who were riding a motorcycle to work.
The policemen who killed them later changed their story and said the young men were fatally shot by robbers, but there was at least one alert witness to their cold-blooded murder.
There were many witnesses when a divisional police officer shot a young man in Lagos on the first day of the protests against the sudden and substantial increase in the price of fuel. The victim was not a protester and was playing football. The police officer shot him in the region of his balls. The police officer had ordered the young men playing football to disperse, though they were not doing any harm. Did the police officer believe that their refusal to disperse had robbed him of his balls and needed to show that he had machismo of the murderous kind? Prisoners used to be shackled to a steel ball, but this is a mild punishment for merciless murder.
I think it was in Ethiopia that farmers in one village, after many years of frustrating losses, came up with the solution to the ravenous appetite of the animals that regularly invaded their farms. Some of the animals were caught in traps, but others kept coming. The farmers decided to skin one of the animals alive and then release it. The piercing cry of the skinned animal triggered the wild flight of the other animals and they never returned to the area.
The late Adedeji’s one-year-old daughter will have no recollection of her father or of his untimely funeral. Funerals are a sad affair, as the boy observed on that drizzly morning, but many will make merry and not mourn for policemen hanged for the murder of innocent Nigerians, among many other villainous outrages. The animals fled when one of them was skinned alive and swift and severe punishment should stop policemen’s killing spree.
You should be wary of what you write. Our culture is different from all the countries mentioned in your article. How much were you paid by Alison’s father to write in defence of his unruly and spoilt child? One wonders the type of upbringing you are giving your children. Teachers deserve an unreserved apology from a myopic and unrestrained writer like you. Did you pass through teachers when growing up? Is any of your parents or family members a teacher?
You are stupidly dragging your profession through the mud by your attempt to suppress real facts. Why not come out openly to show your intimacy with the boy’s parents or to toe your ethnicity line. After all, your name rings such.
May all what teachers had taught you in the school vapourise from your head. You are a goat.
Thanks a million for your piece on teachers. As a teacher, I have never been so thrilled. More power to your elbow.
I was once a teacher in the armed forces schools and once saw a colonel slap a senior teacher for ordering his son to assist other students in carrying crates of soft drinks meant for a PTA meeting. Teachers protested though. With regard to the Alison issue, people living near the school attest that shots were heard. The father is encouraging his son in an evil way and he will surely reap it sooner or later.
It seems that the teacher excessively punished the student, but portraying teachers as the guilty party is unfair and may be encouraging indiscipline. The student had the effrontery of holding a spanner with the intention of hitting his teacher!
Lanre Oseni, Lagos