Of a Nation in Crisis and Its Deflowered Law Enforcement Agencies – Terinwa Adesipo

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I

            Times are sure strange and for some even stranger, but what else will make existence fascinating and engrossing if oddities that animates it takes a vacation away from everyday human life? Life, it has been validly observed is fruitless and devoid of anything luxuriant without the priceless impart of the law. Evidently, the indispensability of the law in the life and existence of man is immensely beyond invaluable. In humanity’s own case, the unparalleled manifestation of the law is the only golden touch that has ever graced the earth with such uncommon effect producing such incredible issues such as peace, orderliness, unity among innumerable others which are fundamental to the progress and development of man and his existence. In my view, anyone who understands the indispensability of the law would never dare to dream up what human existence would be like without it. As a caveat, such imagination is in itself inimical to mental health and stability.

Having said this, it is important to clearly restate that the law cannot productively materialize without corresponding enforcement; this plainly is a crucial determinant as to what becomes of a society; be it progress or retrogression. Or of what beauty is a gun without a bullet. Concretely, this as corroboratively and purely established is the foundation upon which diverse law enforcement agents are created, birthed and strengthened. In this connection, while just laws are created on one hand to guide man, relevant law enforcements agents must also be concomitantly empowered to administer the implementation of those laws, one which foundationally includes ensuring that order is regnant in the society. Even when the law exists, the poverty of its enforcement is symptomatic of such inexorable perilous consequences of societal disorderliness or chaos which mostly germinate into a state of ultimate anarchy.

            Of course, it is glaring and evident that one of the basic duty of law enforcers in any territory of the world is to energetically implement the law coupled with ensuring the robust application of adequate and appropriate comeuppance in cases of breach. Corroboratively, the undefiled history of world development has also unambiguously revealed that perfection cannot be hoped for from the journey of humanity; neither can humans be expected to wholly obey the law without any infraction, hence, the need for law enforcers. But what happens when the guards becomes the robber? What happens when the law becomes illegal, what happens when law enforcers transmute into lawbreakers? This situation better imagined is sadly becoming the reality in a country like Nigeria. This is a situation where those who ordinarily ought to champion the protection and promotion of law are at the vanguard of its destruction. This unpleasant reality gradually snowballing into Hobbes state of nature in Nigeria is undeniably one that portends a broad spectrum of disaster for any human society. Tangibly, no society can ever be safe neither can true public safety be achieved in a society where all that exist is a façade of a law enforcement agency which rather than enforce the just tenets of the law acts against everything it represents.

II

It is generally agreed by many that the Nigeria law enforcement agency cutting across various segments and departments has been materially ravaged by various forms of illegality, criminality and diverse other legions of acts and conducts it was primarily birthed to eliminate and exterminate from the society. This is in all scope or analysis greatly demoralizing. While it is possible to ride a society with bad laws to progress -provided there is an efficient and undefiled law enforcement agency- it will forever remain a chimera for a society with bad law enforcers, although with good laws to ever attain any prosperity. Unfortunately, criminality greatly and overwhelmingly abounds on the Nigeria firmament.

As a reality check, diverse cases of human rights violation are sadly attributed to the men and women in uniform, if it is not a case of degrading treatment; it’s a case of inhumane torture. While these rights are honoured, respected, celebrated and even worshipped in diverse territorial milieu of the world, a pace into the Nigeria territory radiates an ambience where it is neglected and rejected. What becomes mostly befuddling is the fact that the very agent of law who is behooved to carry out the responsibility of human rights promotion and protection is the master of this illegal deals and unholy dealings. Just a mere interrogation, but have you ever seen a police convoy breaching traffic rules or a drug Law Enforcement agent dealing in prohibited drugs or a traffic enforcement agent such as a LASTMA officer engaging in street fights?, anyway this is nothing new to the Nigeria territory.

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From police brutality to Road safety corps harassment to military degrading treatment, every form of human rights violation is courted by the country’s many law enforcers. In a degenerating manner, those baptized as law enforcers are largely at the vanguard of every form of law violation and degradation known to the Nigerian society. They unashamedly are a party to the disgrace and downfall of what they strongly ought to dedicate their entire life safeguarding if not worshipped, noting fully well that it is the only thing that guarantees their daily bread. While a friend once stated that “anybody dumbfounded at the sight of any illegal act being manifested by the law enforcement agents in Nigeria has either just regained his sight or journeying into the territory of the Nigeria soil for the first time”. Whilst I agree fully with his first assertion, I personally believe the latter itself is not even a total justification for any surprises noting fully well the many reports published by mass media and those shared on social media as to the manifestation of these illegalities by law enforcement agents in Nigeria.

While there are sure many ills in the Nigeria Law enforcement agencies, time and space will be insufficient to fully identify them. Hence, I will proceed to the raison d’etre of this piece. This is specifically with regards to addressing the cardinal issue of the sect who are quick to heavily heap on these agencies manifold blames and diverse guilt for the deteriorating state of the country, stating and dishing as claims the diverse acts of illegality perpetrated and committed by these men in uniform while identifying such infamous instances of extortion, exploitation, bribery, human rights violation and many others which has become characteristic of this agencies. In truth just as it is evident, these many acts of illegality are defining of these law enforcement agencies in Nigeria, but the real McCoy question that should be asked as against this condemnation is what really is the root of all these evils?

III

It has been said with clear justification that there is never a smoke without fire, whether the smoke is proportionate to the fire or not is another issue. Whilst what is police brutality or any other form of degrading treatment occasioned by law enforcers can be dubbed nothing but inhuman, it is essential to also take a searchlight with the aim of researching and unearthing how this strange root germinated into an almost-indestructible tree of a national law enforcement agency epidemic. Although there can be no sound justification for inhumanity as practiced and courted by this enforcement agencies, deep understanding of current realism has revealed the distasteful fact that harsh economic realities strongly has a hand in the manifestation of these acts of illegality and criminality now perpetrated by law enforcers in Nigeria.

Evidently, this present day era has revealed that man can no longer live by bread alone but also importantly with a corresponding quantity of butter sandwiched into the loaves. But how can this be accomplished without the necessary wherewithal? Has anyone ever wondered whether these men in uniform risking their lives for the safety of others in the dead of the night and at the crack of the dawn combating all forms of inimical forces threatening societal peace and order also have families who depend on them; whether they also just like everybody has aged parents to cater for and young kids to send to school? Realistically and truthfully, these men and women also have children to cater for, rents to pay, families to feed and other facts of life glaring them in the face. The million dollar question then is how can this be achieved with such ridiculously low incentives romanced into their accounts as salaries?

In truth, any country that irreverently treats any of its diverse men and women who risk and even sacrifice their lives on the altar of the protection of others is obliquely sending an invite to corruption. Hence, the reason -although not justifiable- for the many acts of extortion and exploitation occasioned on the civilian population by law enforcement agents in Nigeria. Howbeit the recent increase in salaries of members of the Nigeria police force is laudable; to further ensure that this monies get into the right hands is itself the real McCoy action that must be ensured.

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Simplistically, it is an open secret fact that diverse numbers of this folks who risk their life with death, trying and striving to insure the safety of others in the society are not fully paid their salaries, this is because what is delivered to their various account would have been diced and sliced by the untouchables. Such is the ludicrous and demoralizing incentive they’ll have to take home to their dependants and when this is not enough to cater for the manifold bill and dues glaring them in the face, they have their back glued against the wall and therefore constrained to raise it forcefully by extorting the civilian population.

With all condiments of realism, corruption undeniably is endemic to the progress of any society; not only does it erode the moral fabric of such a society -as established and observed by many-, it furthermore infracts the rights of the poor and the vulnerable while retrogressively ridiculing the identity or any idea of a society’s progress. Extendedly, it subverts and annihilates the rule of law and tosses it away in the receptacle of unfulfilled greatness. In this light, it is only logical that the apt solution to tackling this menace would be to timeously confine it into the unbreakable chains and shackles of the law before it begins to unleash its terror. When this is therefore not the case, what becomes of such a society will be nothing but retrogression and existential failure. Evidently, a classic example of this can be latently espied in the case of the Nigeria society.

Just as many would agree with me, corruption has almost brought Nigeria to its heels. Although despite this sad realism, there are still some who unrealistically professes that the country is standing strong and energetic, that assertion which is a product of unrealism not to say a product of unsound analysis is usually bandied by many political jobbers in government. Back to the real issue, if any progress would be achieved with regards to the Nigeria Law enforcement agency, corruption must be substantially eliminated.

While low incentives of the men in uniform is just one side of the coin, the average civilian who has an affinity for greasing the palms of this men in uniform rather than doing what the law stipulates such as possessing the right documents or following the laid down rules must also undergo a mental re-orientation and restoration, because no right thinking member of the society would consider such actions or conducts sound and coherent.

 In my view, the change we desire and want is only achievable when we are all unitedly headed towards notching this great aspiration. In simple truth, what is now a gigantic problem was in itself a creation of the people. If we then so desire a progressive society, rather than blame the law enforcement agencies for all this woes currently bedeviling the Nigeria society, we should foundationally ensure the destruction of all this activities that has placed the country’s progress in captivity.

Still one important remark, this reputable men and women in uniform must necessarily be rightly indoctrinated as to the basic tenets of public service. They must understand that core in public service is sacrifice and service to humanity. While many employment adventures into the Nigeria military or other respective forces are never because of passion or desire but largely due to lack of jobs and the ugly financial realities of the nation. This must be urgently dealt with. While some will think the brobdinagian application which many law enforcement agencies received when there are calls for employment is all attributed to great attraction for the profession. I’m sorry to burst your bubbles, far from it. This million who applied for this little -almost non-existing- positions are the many who have been tortured by the brutality of harsh economic realities, the many graduates who are now jobless and desperate to venture into anything that comes or the misinformed few who sees it as a means of oppressing and extorting the civilian population.

Surely, this is no pathway to a progressive law enforcement agent for any nation; law enforcement agency should not just recruit those who are in because they are constrained by this dog’s life, they must be those who are attracted and dedicated to the mission and ever-ready to be committed to the process of societal safety and development. This therefore logically whispers that for the Nigeria law enforcement agent to experience the change it exigently requires, the Nigeria state itself must firstly and necessarily be fundamentally remodeled and reconfigured to accommodate such progressive realism.

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IV

While abinitio, I was tempted to propose an eye for eye treatment for those law enforcers who violates the sacred rules that guides the dispensation of their duty; those which result in such inhumane and illegal conducts, I was immediately redirected into reality by the many unpleasant facts that currently define the country. Or how can legality thrive in an environment where illegality is the potentate? Impossible, it either gets corrupted or exiled, if not exterminated on allegations of treason.

To this end, the only effective panacea to all this loads of woes that currently bedevils and infects the manifold law enforcement agency in Nigeria lays in just a fundamental solution which is simply a national restitution and restoration. Just by the way, the entire malady that currently bedevils the Nigeria existence will remain undefeatable and unconquerable until there is a fundamental and foundational reconfiguration of the Nigeria state. A lot certainly needs to be done, sacrifices must be made; enemies of the country’s progress must be destroyed. Only via this means can Nigeria attain greatness.

At bottom, how can a person who does not know the law, enforces it. Sadly a deep examination and investigation of the diverse men and women in uniform in Nigeria would reveal the ludicrous reality of various law enforcement agents who knows no jack about the law they are meant to enforce not to say that which created them. From deep examination, what most of them understand as law are the very moral rules they were raised with, so with this they know it is illegal to kill, to kidnap, to destroy someone’s property, or take the property of another and when this rules are infracted by a person, he should be confined into the bars of the law, but that is only pending the time such offender oil their palms, when this is done, his sins are forgiven.

In essence, reorientation is foundational for the many men and women behooved with the duty of enforcing the law in Nigeria, this predesigned set pattern of retrogressive thought must be exigently dislodged. This is therefore only feasible through re-educating these men and women about what the law is, what it connotes, how it operates and what they as its enforcers are behooved to do. Pardon, the quick aside, the clamour for the dismantling of the current framework of law enforcement agency in Nigeria specifically the Nigeria police force will be eternally sterile in productivity, because fundamental problems requires fundamental solutions and not mere quick fix.

The plaque threatening and rapidly destroying the political and existential fortunes of the Nigeria society is grave. Such further manifestation of rots enmeshed in the law enforcement agents in Nigeria can also be clearly espied in any get-ready ambience to elections where the government in power wrongly utilizes this diverse law enforcement agency as an instrument of political intimidation and oppression. In such times, they are transmuted into monstrous weapon of political attack and destruction. Surely, if this change we desire must manifest and the country must progress; all this evil must necessarily come to a halt.

Essentially, the law enforcement agency must fundamentally be independent; the dictum that he who plays the piper dictates the tune must be swiftly brought to an end. Times are fast changing, the world is moving, and various societies are progressing. There is no doubt that the law as well as Law enforcement agents have a critical role to play in accomplishing this development but this cannot be realistically attained without the rights set of tools, required structure and requisite personnel. When all this are in place, the defiant few who are still obsessed in a love affair with this evil must be reformed but not by romantic persuasion or persecution but by the correction whip of the law.

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