Yesterday, I saw some mobile policemen (MOPOLs) somewhere in Victoria Island where their job was to maintain order. Initially, they were freely exercising their inherent ability to get mad at stubborn citizens and ensure conformance to their instructions. However, I was amazed when I saw one of them raise a long cane against a gentleman and heard him threaten to lash him. Since I am ignorant of the right of a MOPOL to act in that regard, I simply chuckled. But I wondered if he remembered that in this age of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, if by an unexpected misfortune he lashed the man and the offender fainted or died during his action, he could become a new rumour on Nairaland and even make news on CNN New York for whipping a man to death in Lagos.
We all know that nine out of every ten policeman working or pretending to be working on Nigerian streets are probably corrupt. Just last month, one trigger-happy policeman was said to have killed a nine-year-old in Ketu traffic while attempting to scare a bus driver that had refused to drop something. The young boy who was accompanying his parents to the airport received the stray bullet into his skull from within their car. Sensing danger, the black-uniformed culprits were found wanting within a few seconds.
It is therefore fortunate that a motor-traffic sergeant was recently captured on camera, reported successfully and punished for promoting bribery in Lagos city. This would caution some other policemen in their bid to exploit the same people they should be protecting
However, I am unsure of the effectiveness of the punishment given to him by the Nigerian police. I am aware that he was identified, arrested, tried and dismissed from the force within 24 Jack Bauer hours. I stand to be corrected but after discussing this issue with a friend, I think that the manner of chastisement performed is ineffective
The culprit policeman was engrafted into and trained by the Nigerian police force. He served there for twenty-one years and had attained the rank of a sergeant at the time of dismissal. Now, he has been expelled from the force after being broadcasted on TV and the internet. Unfortunately, he would have at least, a wife, some kids and other dependants. His widespread notoriety will make it almost impossible for him to gain another employment. Or who would employ a policeman that was dismissed from the force for attempting to severely exploit a fellow Nigerian?
I wonder if he has even learnt any personal lessons from this. If he has, then what is the way forward? Who will fulfil the responsibilities he was bearing before?
If he has not learnt the intended lesson or will not be able to return to honesty, wouldn’t he go and become a robber? In this wise, wouldn’t he be a threat to the man that recorded him, the entire society and even the Nigerian police force? I stand to be corrected.
I believe he could have been sustained in the force but sent to prison for a very long holiday of say, three to fours years. During this period his family should still receive his salaries, provided that his wife and children will remain bound to him. After his release, he should be checked psychologically and if he passes, he should be given reorientation and returned to the police force at a lower rank. I think that should keep his slates clean.
His experience was only unfortunate because he had encountered a very smart and daring Nigerian. There are perhaps, one thousand other policemen who are still blackmailing or exploiting Nigerians around the nation. By now, they would have learnt that it is possible to get captured and broadcasted on TV. So, Nigerians have got to become more careful and creative when getting harassed by officers of the law
It was reported that the policeman that was caught did the act alone. This is quite strange because Nigerians already know that multiple tithes accruing from these checkpoint kickbacks often travel down to some back office senior policemen. As at the day the notorious sergeant was caught and broadcasted on TV, I still saw some policemen doing their on-the-road business openly in motor-traffic. May we ask if someone is fooling somebody?