A Plea to the Inspector General of Police

IGP M.D Abubakar

A few weeks ago, I penned an essay in which I drew the attention of the public to a very wicked and weird action of the Anambra State police command-the Commissioner of police in Anambra State decided to block a public road in a very bizarre attempt at securing his office located along Zik Avenue, Amawbia, in the heart of the State capital.
After a few days of publishing the article, I was made to understand that the government of Anambra State requested that the concrete barriers used in blocking the road to the public be removed. Well, as I write, the Anambra State police Commissioner have continued to ignore the sufferings and hardship his refusal to re-open a public road is causing the citizens of the State.
As a law abiding citizen who believes in using dialogue and reason to bring issues of public interest to the attention of those in authority, I am using this medium to draw the attention of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Muhammed Abubakar to the hell his appointed CP is causing the good people of Anambra State.
Sir, the road on which the Anambra State Police headquarters is located happens to be a Tunk-A road which is at the centre of the State Capital Territory. This road is the only major road leading into the heart of Awka, the State capital, resulting in a high vehicular traffic. By diverting traffic through a narrow road filled with gullies, road users groan under an unwarranted hardship for the singular reason that the police have decided to restrict the movement of people close to their headquarters (is this the case in those Boko Haram-ravaged States in the North?).
On whose authority did the Anambra State police close a Federal road? Why should we be made to bear the brunt of police inefficiency? Is our State under occupation like the notorious Gaza and West Bank all in Israel/Palestine? Is closing a busy road to the public the best way to ward off intruders and criminal elements? Whatever happened to the police employing efficient intelligence to combat crime? The questions are just too many.
With only a few weeks to Christmas, this cry to the Inspector General of police is timely because it is simply too scary to imagine the plight of Ndi Igbo who are already making plans to travel home for the holiday. Any person who is familiar with the volume of traffic in Igboland during the Christmas period would be in a better position to imagine the traffic gridlock that would envelope the whole of Awka and its environs due to the State police Commissioner’s callousness.
Again, issues like this have a way of melting down to the commitment of our government to the sufferings of her citizens. It beggars belief that the Government of Anambra State would allow the police to deny her citizens access to a road it constructed with public funds. Is the security of the police more important than the welfare of the people of Anambra State?
The people of Anambra are known to be very accommodating to the police and this translates to why most police officers go the extra mile to thwart any attempt to transfer them out of the State; it is the simple truth that most police officers in Anambra State have been there for more than 20yrs. Is this the best way to pay us back-by denying us access to our road?
If other security outfits in our Anambra should dare to follow the bitter example of the police, then I foresee a situation whereby we would resort to bush-paths as a means of moving from one point to the other-the Army, the State Security Service, Nigeria Prison Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, NDLEA and many more would all block the roads leading to their offices!
How dare the State Commissioner of police block our road?
Does this act of the Anambra State police command have anything to do with insuring the proper security of the State or just an attempt stemming out of that archaic military mind-frame of “I have the gun and can do whatever pleases me”? It beats my imagination why the people of Anambra State have chosen to be filled with impotent rage rather than collectively insist and demand that their road be re-opened. We are in a democracy and the citizens must be vigilant at all times before those in authority drag us down the painful route of dictatorship.
Are we really in a democracy –the type that harps on “the government of the people, for the people and by the people”, or is this just a contraption put in place to ensure that those few in power continue to live large at our expense?
Why do we always hear of the Federal Government, down to the States budgeting money “to build a befitting official residence” for themselves while there is no such thing as a housing policy for millions of Nigerians that are homeless?
Why is it fashionable for our leaders to strut to foreign hospitals to be treated for all sorts of ailment (Senator David Mark recently went to Israel to be attended to by a Dentist!), while the hapless/disillusioned citizens of Nigeria resort to financing the luxurious lifestyles of jet-flying pastors in order to be cured of an illness?
Our leaders move around in tinted-armoured 4×4 (imported) cars, while they continue to tell us to “move about without fear as government is up to the task of securing our societies”?
There are so many things wrong with the Nigerian state and the police in Anambra State appear to be so keen on celebrating hardship, rather than “Serving and Protecting with Integrity”. In an earlier essay, I pointed out the notorious location that is a normal police station in our country-a place you venture into at your own peril. That picture has not changed. It is my humble opinion that rather than glide into modern day policing, ours continue to cling unto that colonial idea of a police force-the one that treats citizens as captives to be terrorized, exploited and dehumanized!
The present Inspector General of police, Mr M.D Abubakar should please harken to this call and direct his CP in Anambra State to as a matter of great urgency, dismantle the barriers erected on Zik Avenue. The issue of security should be a collective effort-the Commissioner of Police should not secure his office while smiling gleefully at the harrowing experience of US, the good people of Anambra State.
We have every right to enjoy our Christmas holiday in our State without having to be mentally and physically battered by the action of the Commissioner of Police. The IGP must tell this man to give his police force a human face rather than this picture of a rampaging “nameless” creature that I am seeing.


A Scared and Mean Nigerian Police?

Two weeks ago, I travelled down to my home State of Anambra to pay my last respects to a dear aunt who passed away. The burial was in Amawbia, a prominent part of the State Capital Territory which is equally where Governor Peter Obi’s Governor’s Lodge is located. Apart from my understandably sombre mood brought about by that feeling that life is futile, I was confronted by a very wicked and irrational action of the Anambra State police command.

This essay therefore is intended to seek for reasons and answers to why the police authorities in Anambra State would deem it morally and ethically right to impose more hardship, sufferings, mental trauma and anguish on the already mesmerized teeth-gnashing people of Anambra State.

The Anambra Police headquarters cum the Commissioner of Police office is located along Zik Avenue, Amawbia and is about five minutes’ walk to the official residence of Governor Peter Obi. Both vehicular and human traffic were allowed passage along Zik Avenue until recently when the police command in their rather bizarre wisdom deemed it fit to restrict movements on this road by wickedly erecting concrete barriers to shut out traffic of all sorts.

As I write, the police headquarters in Amawbia has arrogated to itself the sole right to use a portion of a public road by diverting traffic through a very tortuous route. Mean looking and assault rifle wielding police officers now man this portion of the road to coerce compliance. Well, the police authorities could argue that their action was borne out of the need to “secure” their location against enemy action. This is laughable and an attempt to clearly portray the police as being scared and insensitive!

Are we now, the peace loving people of Anambra State being told in very explicit terms that the police whose duty it is to secure lives and property is now more interested in securing their offices at the detriment of the thousands of Ndi Anambra? For the avoidance of doubt, there is no imminent Boko Haram threat in the State Capital; the Anambra State police should please relocate to a more serene location instead of annexing our road.

One would have expected Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State to resist this wicked action of the police only that he too has successfully alienated us the more by closing a portion of the road leading to Nibo for his sole “Executive Security”. A once open road leading to Nibo/Governor’s Lodge has been closed to the people of Anambra State for the sole reason that the Governor drives into his Lodge built with our money using same road.

This brings us to the worldview and mind frame of those entrusted with the task of leading us in Nigeria. Our elected and selected leaders find it exceptionally amusing and exhilarating heaping more hardship and wickedness on us by first securing their luxurious lifestyle as against working for the common good. It is only in Nigeria nay Africa that those in positions of authority see themselves as being more important than the rest of the people they claim to represent.

The Anambra State police command has soundly demonstrated this callousness by employing hardship-inducing measures to secure their location rather than strive to effectively secure the rest of the State. The Commissioner of police by restricting movement on a public road is telling us that his security is more important than ours, the police in Anambra is telling us that their office in Amawbia should be secured at all costs irrespective of the sufferings, anguish, evil and harrowing experience of the people of the State.

Whatever may be the case, I make bold to submit that the action of the Anambra State police command clearly summarises the ineffectiveness and archaic policing approach of the Nigerian Police. Modern day policing is not about erecting thick concrete barriers on public roads and stationing hundreds of armed police officers on the road to ward off hapless citizens. Modern day policing involves amongst others, the use of accurate intelligence to checkmate the nefarious plots of criminals.

It beats my imagination why people in this part of the world choose to close their eyes to official recklessness and impunity; it breaks my heart to see the level of docility and ignorance ravaging the mind-frame of many Nigerians. It is our collective responsibility to elect a government to run the affairs of the State, it is equally our collective duty to be on guard always to prevent a situation whereby the Government starts working for itself rather than working for us.

The police which is an apparatus of government should focus more on transforming into a more civil and people-oriented outfit rather than speedily transforming into a monster whose primary function is to intimidate, harass, oppress, maul, exploit (financially and otherwise), kill those who they are meant to protect. Even though I commend the present Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar on his efforts to turn the police around for good, I sincerely think that more work needs to be done to save the situation.

A police office should be one where citizens of all social cadres should feel free to walk in and out without first being marooned by a feeling of dread; a typical police office in Nigeria however represents an ugly place filled with the stench of human misery, a place peopled by mostly uniformed men and women with little or no understanding of the core duties of a modern day police officer, a place littered with broken down and accident ravaged vehicles, a place where “bail is free” only in the imagination of citizens, etc.

Little wonder why we have a Nigerian Police that is notorious for robbing hapless citizens, shooting them when they refuse to part with bribe money and framing them up as armed robbers after killing them! I have always called for a more comprehensive reform of our police institution; there is a serious need for a review of the training manual and style adopted in recruiting people into the Nigeria Police. The IG must do whatever it takes to ensure that his department is no longer seen as a place where the dregs of the society are dumped.

Will the Inspector General of Police stop paying lip service to reforming the service by first of all giving it a human face? Will the IGP please direct the Anambra State police command stop making us feel as if we were under occupation by removing the barriers on Zik Avenue Amawbia? Whoever advised the police in Anambra should be filled with shame for making the police resort to 19th Century policing by commandeering a public road and forcing innocent citizens to suffer as a result.