When young Nigerians from all over the country gathered in October 2020 for the #EndSARS nationwide protests, all they wanted was police reforms- a transformation of the security force that would see citizens being treated with respect by authorities and in turn officials benefitting from an all-round improved welfare,
Alas, the seemingly productive protests was cut short by a combined team of ignorant security officials when ‘unknown’ soldiers fired live bullets against peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll gate in Lagos and subsequently men of the Nigeria Police Force turning in rage against the citizens they were meant to protest.
The Federal government promised an investigation into the murder of innocent citizens by security operatives during the protest and also ordered state governments to set-up panel of inquiries but it seem to all be a text book manual.
Five months down the lane, nothing has changed obviously. On Friday 19th March, 2021 at about 5pm, a human rights activists, Tunde Abass was harassed and arrested by the police at Onipanu Division for recording the harassment and forceful arrest of Kabir Mohammed at Onipanu Area of the State.
Tunde Abass @TUNDEAbass10 was arrested to at Onipanu for recording this video of Police Officers harassing innocent motorist. #FreeTundeAbass@YeleSowore @adeyanjudeji @SaharaReporters @PremiumTimesng @RevolutionNowNg @whales1212 @DeleFarotimi @aacparty @jharmo @ayemojubar pic.twitter.com/cXadaa0psa
— Iβrahim (@TheIOShowa) March 21, 2021
Tunde, was not released until after 4 days Illegal detention by the Lagos Command of the Nigeria Police Force even after the magistrate court ordered for his bail. It took the intervention of Lagos police PRO Adejobi Olumuyiwa, to get him out following an outrage on social media.
At the time of his release however, Tunde’s orange top and trousers were stained with blood and dirt just as his face was swollen indicating he had been battered, tortured and dehumanized while in detention.
In a Cameo gesture, the Commissioner of Police, in Lagos CP Hakeem Odumosu on Wednesday ordered for immediate redeployment of CSP Francis Ani, the Divisional Police Officer, Onipanu Division of the Lagos State Police Command and some of his boys for the harassment and illegal detention of Tunde Abass.
The Commissioner further condemned such act of unprofessionalism and excessive use of power to send a signal to the whole world that the command will not, for whatever reason, condone such act; and to serve as deterrent to other policemen in the state
But Tunde’s case appears to be one out of many others. Just on Tuesday, report surfaced on social media of a young man popular by the name Julius Begger who went missing after video of him being harassed by police featured online.
According to his friends, Julius left his house to go to the ATM around Ojuelegba area of Lagos so he can get some money but never returned home up till now.
We need your help guys!!!! Please help us to find this young man @juliusbegger who is missing
If found or have any details call 09058977346
— OLA😍 (@Mosun_15) March 24, 2021
And till date, he is yet to be found while the state command, the CP nor the PRO are yet to make any statements on the case.
While Tunde Abass was lucky to get the intervention of the PRo and subsequently that of the police Commissioner, unfortunately, same cannot be said of the story of Julius. The contrast in these two stories emphasizes the point that nothing has changed within the police force despite the EndSARS protests and continued public outcry against police brutality.
Men of the Nigeria Police Force remain as ruthless, unlawful and carefree as ever. They still harass and brutalize innocent Nigerians every day; it’s their daily bread; the Barbarians cannot do without blood; they can’t stop oppressing us.
Why do we need a Police PRO or Commissioner to bail you from the hands of unruly Police men? What if Tunde got killed-like many others who have gone missing without a trace-before the Commissioners intervention? What if no one recorded the act?
How many more young Nigerians who are being daily extorted. brutalized and tortured by these errant police officers are unlucky to get someone record the scene or get a police PRO intervention.
How long shall the Police realize that the very essence of their existence is to protect the lives and properties of the citizens. How long shall we continue to move round in circles on this matter?
What we want is a system that works, not a police PRO who bails!
By Seun Awosika
Investigative Journatlist, Media Consultant & Strategist