Civil Society Network : Police in governance
If you look at this issue we have been talking about for a long time now that borders on Government and the people, we said that it is a social contract. It is a contract because two or three people came together and agreed on certain issues and put it down in writing. So, for that of Nigeria, some ethnic nationalities came together and were able to put down something in writing which is called a contract document or the constitution.
You discover that there are three arms of government and three tiers of government. If you look at the three arms of government, you will find the federal, state and the local government. If you look at the arms of government, you find the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.
Looking at some parts of the executives and how they operate, you find that this is the particular angle that reach to the people so quickly. Their actions are felt by the masses instantly. They are the ones that executive whatever policies or programmes. And sometimes when government is mentioned, the minds of the people only go to the executive.
The legislature and the judiciary are not obvious to them as part of governance. So, they look at the governor, local government chairman and the rest of them. Why it is like that is because they wield the instrument of force; to execute implies to apply to apply force. Humans are subject to coercion. Until you coerce them, they might not want to do what they are supposed to do. The coercive force of the executive is in the hands of such agencies as the police.
Now, if you look at Nigeria, or Anambra State in particular, majority of the people will be telling you that the police are bad and not friendly. And if you ask them why; they would say that the police extorts money from them, that police collects money for bail, intimidates them and all manner of things. But, we have to look at it critically. If you do not give to someone, the person will not take. And I strongly believe that the police officers we have are trained before they are given the uniforms.
But, on the other hand, if things are going the way they are going and we keep talking about the masses without looking from the other side, we may not be striking the balance. For instance, somebody was telling me the other that he went to make a report at the police station and he was told to bring money before arrest will be conducted. When I decided to meddle into that, I discovered that the police had a vehicle but there was no fuel in it. If the police community relations do not assist, how do you expect a police officer to move out and effect an arrest. On the other hand, there are some documents that they would need. So, from all indications, we will blame them if the government has fulfilled their responsibilities where they are.
But that notwithstanding, there are still some police that, no matter what you do, they would still go out of their ways to misbehave. I was reading about what happened to some police officers because somebody reported a case to public complaints rapid response unit, and they took up the matter.
At the end, those police officers were dismissed and the money collected from the guy was returned. But what we are saying here as Civil Society is that if the people know their right and operate within the ambits of the law, nobody is permitted to intimidate or harrass them.
The average Anambrarians puts his business first and anything that would delay him from doing his business is like the devil to him. So, he is ready to pay anything in order to get whatever obstacle that would delay him from going about his business as he plys the road. But, is that the best approach? If the officers discover that you I know your right and are ready to fight for it, they would give you your way. Look, nobody intimidates somebody who knows his right.
So it is high time the people knew their rights and are ready to stand for their right. And that is why we give out our phone numbers to the members of the public telling them to call anytime they are oppressed. The immediate past commissioner of police gave us all assurances that he would not tolerate any form of human right abuse.
We are about to meet the present commissioner of police so that we can also discuss these issues as they affect human rights. That notwithstanding, there are still some bad eggs among the police. If Jesus Christ can have among his twelve, a Judas, how much more the police. We cannot blame the police completely given that they cannot be everywhere. We need to start reporting these bad eggs to the officers. If nobody does it, then things will continue going wrong.
The police is there for a particular role; to keep law and order. If the people do what they are supposed to do, then the police would have no reason to be after them. When someone is suspected of breaking the law and is caught, then let the rule of law be followed. You find some cases where someone was suspected of breaking the law and brought under custody, he will be put in the cell for one week, two weeks and even longer. Which law authorises the police to keep people against their will for so long a time. But the problem is, if you do not know your right , you suffer for it. And that is why we are offerign this opportunity to be educating the masses. If you are caught for a crime, you have not been convicted, so you have not been adjudicated until you are taken to a court of competent jurisdictiona and tried. The only thing they would have to do is to investigate the matter for which you are being accused. And within 24 or 48 hours, charge you to court. And in court, things are done the legal way. So, the best thing we have to do is to do the right thing, obey the law and we would have no reason to fear.
If a police misbehaves, he can be fired. if the president or the governor can be fired through impeachment if he goes out of what he has sworn to do in office, how much more the police. There is nobody that is above the law. everybody will be brought to face the law if he goes ultra vires to the rule of the law. But the people should also understand that the police is there to regulate the activities of the people so as to make the society better organised and habitable.
Checkpoint abuse and extortion of drivers on Anambra roads
It is of great concern to us as we move on the road and we see the way these police officers have been mounting checkpoints wantonly. In fact, Anambra State is becoming a police state, so to speak. We are yet to meet with the new commissioner of police and discuss with him during which we intend to present such matters to him and hear his own view about it. But that notwithstanding, we will not shield any person who commits a crime. Take for instance, a driver who kinows he is supposed to have his drivers license and the his vehicle lcense up to date, and he refuses to do it and at the same time he says he is beign disturbed, I do not think that you are right. On the other hand, if you have these things intact and the police stop you, you stop and make your particulars available for them to inspect on request. But if after complying and they decide to keep delaying you, you check how long they delayed youa nd file a proper complaint to appropriate authorities. These days, the smart phones have made the securing evidence easy. The people need to collaborate with the police and the police with the people so that we will have a civil society.
(To be continued)