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With the spate of fatal police shootings of defenceless and armless citizens across the country these days,it has become a sort of illusion for anyone to believe that police are truly citizens’ friends. A lot of deaths recorded daily in Nigeria are resultant effect of police brutality and extra judicial killings by reckless officers of the Nigeria Police.This is more or less a mockery of and sharp contradiction to the letter and spirit of the visible inscription one sees at the entrance of police stations that police are your friends.A lot of innocent lives have been whimsically taken away by the blood thirsty officers of the Nigeria Police by mere arguing with them.If you dare ask questions when you are stopped  on the check points,you do so at your own peril.
The derision which results from the misconduct of some of the officers is not only contemptious but it is exposing  the entire force to ridicule.

APC Bolaji Paul Gbengbeleku

Any verbal altercation with the officers may be a path way to grave.It has become an  abberation to ask the officers questions just because they are oportune to have access to live ammunition.If you are courageous to ask questions,it may be treated as a case of obstructing them in the cause of performance of their lawful duties.The victim bears the burden silently alone, for it may be difficult to get anyone to testify in your favour due to fear of molestation and entrapment.

Despite the frequent warnings by police authorities that any officer that engages in indescriminate shootings or killing of  innocent citizens will face the full wrath of law,we still hear  reports of police massacres unabatedly  daily.The guns which are meant for the protection of the citizens are being used to kill the helpless  tax payers who are major contributors to common wealth from where government pay the police officers’ salaries and allowances.

 In a sacastistic manner,Abayomi Shogunle, head of the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit of the Police(PCRRU),  instead of outright condemnnation of  the dastadly act of the few disgruntled  officers of the Nigeria Police has recently posited that it is better for Nigerians to communicate with police officers in Pidgin English for better understanding as a panacea to incessant police killings across the country.Whatever his motive for the postulation,what can be deducted from the submission is that he wanted the public to see an average police officer as not having good communication skills.

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If his counsel is anything to go by,it means that the crops of police officers in the country today lack  communication competences.This may appear to be a clever jest;however,he has lent a credence   to the reality  that  the quality of the officers that currently constitute the Nigeria Police is abysmally low.

Instead of outright condemnation of killings of citizens by trigger-happy policemen, Shogunle said communicating with the officers in pidgin will aid better understanding and bound to reduce the cases of fatal shooting of the innocent citizens by the police.Does that means police are killing innocent people due to lack of communication skills.It sounds absurd and unthinkable that extra judicial killings and police brutality are trivialized as being aggravated by linguistic barriers or as problem of semantics gaps.Ability to speak pidgin alone  may not actually immune one against brutality or murderous tendencies of blood thirsty police officers.

I insist that the panacea proffed by Abayomi Shogunle is incoherent giving the fact that instructional activities, legal instruments,Police Act, other relevant statues and training kits  which are normally given to the officers in the cause of training in the Police College are never  prepared and presented in Pidgin.I am aware what is lacking among some of the officers particularly ranks and files are emotional intelligence and good ethical conduct.

It is also presumed that every recruit into the Nigeria Police has the minimum of Senior Secondary School Certificate as entry qualification.Expectedly, anyone with SSCE certificate should be able to read, write and speak simple and correct English.
In my view,there is no way we can get it right without the police showing evidence of  true discipline,good value re-orientation,sound social relations and effective communication skills in writing and speaking.If the judgement of Abayomi Shogunle is correct and  undisputable,it is high time the police authorities planned  a comprehensive short and long-term training for officers of various police candres on oral and written communication skills.More so,police officers need linguistic power and communication skills  to interact and relate freely during every encounter with members of the public.
Police brutality and cases of indescriminate shootings didn’t start today,it  has been a common characteristics of Nigeria’s social life since independence.During the recently concluded 2019 electioneering process in the Country, a lot of lives were wasted and unquatifiable property  destroyed during politically motivated crises across the country.In most of the crises,police are  accused of  either being the ones fuelling the crises or conniving with the perpetrators .As contentious this might sound,one is bound to give the accusation a second thought giving the past misconduct and illicit activities of some disgruntled elements among the officers of the Nigeria Police.

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Of course,it is only the families of the victims  that can  really feel the effects of the unslaught  and bear witness to the pains and agonizing effects of   loosing  the beloved persons to such recreant and  dastadly acts of the police officers.

The family of Jubril Mobolaji who was shot in Lagos sometimes ago over one hundred naira will forever be nursing the wound.Despite the persistent public outcry against the extra judicial killings by murderous police officers,Ajegunle fatal shootings  will make a good literature review for reseachers on police misconduct in Nigeria in no distance future.
The wanthon killing of Kayode Johnson by officers of SARS in Lagos State is a further proof that fatal shooting by police as become a social problem.If not the intensive social media campaign lauched, the unfortunate only son of a widow killed by the SARS officer would have died in vain.On this particular case, the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammad Abubakar Adamu needs to be commended for swift reactions and immediate iniatiation of process of subjecting  the erring officers to internal disciplinary procedure. It shouldn’t stop at that, the culprits should be made to face criminal prosecution in the court of relevant jurisdiction.

Indeed, the spate of police  killings across the country having reached an alarming rate is now being regarded as a social problem.What this portends is that with the escalation of fatal shootings every now and then with the attendant casualties,it calls for urgent collective action of the citizenry.
One other incident that cannot be forgotten in an hurry was the circumstances of brutal murder of Oga Jumbo, personnel of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) early this year by a Police Officer.
Obviously, some of the  officers who have been implicated in atrocious behaviours in the recent past  were largely alcoholic, substance abusers and drug  addicts.This demands that there should be mechanism to identify addicts and drunks among police officers do as to guide  the authorities before effecting sensitive postings.
Therefore,if police will  be seen to be citizen friendly, the officers must be truly courteous and polite in dealing with the civil populace.Not only that,every police officer should be exposed to continuous training and re-orientation on ethical conduct and values.It is not only  by  shooting, brutality  and killings  that the police can enforce law and order.So, the issue trancends the semantics and psycho-linguistic  barriers which are  considered as predisposing factors for the  incessant killings of innocent people by some deadly armed police officers in the country.


Rahaman Onike
Public Affairs Analyst writes from Oyo,Oyo State