Are policemen in Lagos truly our friends?
No doubt, most officers on the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) are exceptional individuals with solid training and passionate about serving their communities, but truth be told that many of them on that uniform, particularly on most Lagos roads are “recruitment error”.
Good character, show of professionalism, strong ethics, deep respect for humans/human rights and knowledge of laws are some of the attributes of a good police officer.
Choosing to become a police officer is a weighty decision because you not only take risks with your own safety, but also take responsibility for the safety of others. When a civilian like yours sincerely does not feel safe with a policeman, then there is a big question around their being clear-headed, truthful, quick on their feet, respectful, strong, and more.
So what? This is a plea that as Lagos State Government facilitates the safety and security in the state, it should not ignore that most of the policemen saddled with that responsibility are major negative to government efforts.
Truly, most policemen do not have that integrity. Why, because integrity is being the person in private that your pastor thinks you are on Sunday morning. Most people go into law enforcement for the service of others and it is impossible to do well in this role without a high level of integrity. A policeman who does not have integrity proves that he does not have any business wearing the uniform in the name of policing.
For instance, when a policeman who feels you committed an offence while driving prefers to take you to a POS for cash he pockets without receipt, I think such policeman is neither working for the government nor for the benefits of the public.
For instance, many motorists can attest to this, particularly those plying into Ijora, Costain, National Theatre, Apapa, Cater Bridge axis there is a “Big Racket” against them that is orchestrated by those ‘Policemen’ on “Motorcycle”. Most time, it is not a sight to behold, raising question on whether The Policemen in Lagos are truly our friends. Do not be deceived, the ‘trade’ goes on every morning against unlucky motorist and it happens right under the bridge at Ijora Area 3.
There (under the bridge), many hapless Lagosians have been forced to empty their pockets in the name of ‘traffic offence’ which only “two” armed policemen that ‘arrested’ you while on motorbike see. Again, do not be deceived, the least you pay them without receipt is N20,000 when they ‘arrest’ you for saying ‘making or answering call’ while driving.
The unlucky ones are forced to cough out N50, 000 without any receipt being issued by anyone. Now you see how the Lagos Traffic Law enriches policemen on the road. They are very smart, they do not provide account details for payment but will be quick to encourage their prey to use the POS right there for cash.
Surprisingly, there is one man called ‘Ayo’, a civilian who these policemen hand over every key of a car they ‘arrested’, then they (the policemen) disappear to where only God knows, leaving you and Ayo to ‘settle’. Imagine a civilian as the anchor settlers for the policemen.
‘Ayo’, is a non-uniformed man. He told yours sincerely that he is a LASTMA officer, but without him knowing, when I took the investigation further to the LASTMA officials (on uniform), to confirm Ayo’s claim, it turned out to be that he is a civilian who facilitates the bargain between the armed policemen on motorcycle and the car owners.
Before I go further into this gist, let me thank Olusegun Fafore, Executive Assistant New Media and Public Relations to Lagos State Governor, for getting off his duty post to see how ‘Ayo’ and his cohort policemen like “Sergeant Philips” are really ‘Working for Lagos State’.
Without options, many motorists are forced to bargain their ways through when they are alleged to have committed a traffic offence. The upper band of the payment is N50, 000 while the lower band is N20, 000. It would have been very good if this payment went into the coffers of the state government but the likes of Ayo and some of those policemen making the ‘arrests’ are doing so to enrich themselves.
Disappointingly, about 200meters away from where this ‘trade on traffic offence’ goes on, is a dreaded spot where criminal elements in that area parade day and night, but these policemen are only interested in how to extort money from the many Lagosians going about their legal businesses.
In Lagos State, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu led government constantly makes efforts to tighten the noose on criminal elements; this the State does by fortifying the armoury of the State Police Command with crime-fighting equipment, patrol vehicles and various communication gadgets.
For instance 150 units of double cabin vehicles, 30 patrol saloon cars, four high-capacity troop carriers and two anti-riot water cannon vehicles were part of the crime-fighting equipment donated to the police, on Thursday, 10th June 2021, by the Lagos Government to strengthen security responses across the State which was commissioned by Muhammadu Buhari.
The equipment was procured through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) – an autonomous agency that partners with the private sector and individuals to provide vital support to security agencies.
Sanwo-Olu said the investment in the security gadgets was timely, given the setback recorded during the violence that followed the #EndSARS protests, last October. The State’s Police Command, the Governor said, suffered losses in infrastructure and logistics, while the morale of the personnel dropped as a result of the impact.