One of the scariest things about Nigeria is the attitude towards life. This beautiful country is becoming a paradise for gunslingers. Our leaders, with their incompetence and lack of will, have created a theater of blood while the people look to the sky for protection.
And when talking about this issue, all segments of society are complicit. Life has become cheap, so people have become desensitized to bloodshed. When the guns of the ill-motivated, mostly drunken policemen don’t fall on innocent citizens, the money-grubbing teens are massacring their friends for ritual purposes. Last week a friend told me about a young man who had carnal knowledge of his mother because an herbalist told him it would give him money. From what I hear, the woman who brought in this satanic agent breathed her last at the hands of the child she brought to life. Such a tragedy. But the biggest tragedy is that people like him get away with doing evil. So you wonder what the government is doing.
A fundamental responsibility of government is to protect lives and property. That is a reasonable expectation in any society that wants progress. Society is populated and run by people, and if they continue to feel insecure, they will leave that society or become victims. Either way, society loses, so most of its productive citizens will find safety elsewhere. This is the reality Nigeria is facing as the government and its agencies, especially the police, continue to fail Nigerians.
For example, policemen killed two people in the Ajah area of Lagos last month. In addition to arresting the shooters and engaging in endless investigations, the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Abiodun Alabi, ordered the transfer of all the men from that division to another division. How does this solve the problem? Unless the transfer ensures a mental transplant that affects the psychological state of those who see their uniforms and weapons as instruments of oppression, Alabi simply transferred evil from one part of the state to another.
Another example of the appalling inefficiency of the police is taking place in the neighboring state of Ogun. Upon weekend, media reports alleged that Lekan Adekanbi, a suspect in an unimaginable murder on New Year’s Day in Abeokuta, escaped from police custody. More reports on Tuesday indicated that the suspect was admitted to the Police Clinic, Abeokuta. “At the hospital, Lekan pretended that he wanted to urinate and escaped,” says the report in the punch he cited an anonymous source. Another report said Ogun State Police Command spokesman Abimbola Oyeyemi declined to comment.
Everything about this incident is concerning. First, it’s shameful that any suspect, let alone one associated with the heinous crime in question, can get away.
To put the matter in context, this matter concerns the murder of a couple, Kehinde and Bukola Fatinoye, shortly after they returned from church service early on January 1. Their bodies were set on fire by his assailant, who also kidnapped his surviving son, Oreoluwa. Later, the police recovered the body of the young man in a river. The assassins wiped out a generation.
Even if this incident did not send shivers down the spines of the residents of the Government Reserve Area, Abeokuta, where this family lived, losing one life, let alone three, should make the police handle this matter seriously.
But a suspect escaped! Worse though, the police have also refused to talk about the suspect’s alleged escape. Given the seriousness of this crime, the police should normally give daily updates on their investigations.
Here the rottenness of the institutions that are supposed to ensure the health of society is also evident. How can a prime suspect accused of wiping out an entire generation get away and the police hierarchy at Louis Edet House sit right with no visible consequences in command and divisional laxity beyond the usual token transfer of people?
Although Nigerians appear to have accepted the inability of their police to detect and prevent crime, the increasing ineffectiveness in investigating and bringing criminals to justice further undermines public confidence in the agency. Many people in the police do not know that they are not police because they are standing in uniform and carrying weapons. It is the intelligence of their training and the skills they have acquired that give them that position. Not understanding this hampers your performance. It is the reason why they cannot get ahead of criminals, despite the fundamental weakness that criminology identifies in all criminals.
Whether the police admit it, Adekanbi’s escape complicates matters. Time is a big challenge in crime investigation. As bestselling American author Maureen Johnson offers in her book, truly devious, “With each passing hour, the evidence slips away. Crime scenes are compromised by people and the elements. Things move, change, get stained, move. Organisms rot. The wind blows dust and pollutants. Memories change and fade. As you move away from the event, you move away from the solution.
Our cops don’t seem to notice this.
They also don’t seem to understand compassion and the psychological effect of their efficiency on bereaved families and the public. Stories about suspects on the run and refusal to clarify or provide updates in one way or another generate fear and erode public confidence in police capabilities. It shows the contempt members of the force hold for Nigeria. But Nigerians themselves must insist that the government and its agencies respect the sanctity of life. Events continue to show that no one is safe in Nigeria, and things will only get worse unless citizens get the government to act.
First on the list of those who must take up this challenge are the media. Media professionals should not stop at reporting on events like the escape of this suspect; they must follow up with investigations and advocate for justice. The media can call the Minister for Police Affairs, the Inspector General of Police and members of the Police Service Commission on issues like this, for example.
The media and their sponsors are in full swing about what Tinubu does, what Obi doesn’t do, where Atiku is going and Wike’s latest outburst. That’s fine, but questions about our humanity are just as important.
This society needs help beyond the reach and competence of its controllers. That is why the media cannot fall asleep on vital issues that provide the necessary oxygen for national progress.
In addition, the media must keep governments and their agencies on their toes, demanding performance, especially when it comes to people’s lives and dignity. The people have a duty to break the conspiracy of silence that has reduced Nigeria to a joke in the community of nations.