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A policeman’s rage

NOTHING can justify the actions of mobile policeman, Raymond Egbongbonwuyi, who invaded the children’s ward of an Ibadan hospital, on November 25, beat up medical personnel, pulled off drips being administered on five children, and tear-gassed the ward. He was on this rampage for two hours before police from a nearby police station arrested him.

Three children died from the incident and others were left in critical conditions. Their parents are scared stiff after the incident, and medical personnel at the hospital are wondering about their safety.

Egbongbonwuyi reportedly lost his daughter in the hospital. Was he seeking revenge on the other sick children over the loss of his daughter? What was he thinking when he got into the ward with his can of tear gas and decided to empty it on the children?

Whether he was in shock, depressed or mad after the loss of his daughter (the second in two weeks, not in the same hospital) are matters for a court to decide. The police eagerly announced he had been dismissed, but Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Adisa Bolanta said the reports were exaggerated.

It is important to note that Egbongbonwuyi reportedly told his victims they were lucky he was not armed. He threatened he would have shot everyone to death. The threat is possibly as frightening as Egbongbonwuyi’s conduct.

There are thousands of policemen on the streets daily. Many of them are armed. How would they have reacted if they were in Egbongbonwuyi’s position? Would they have shot? If they have tear gas on them, would they use it?

Anyone who has been brutalised by the police, particularly members of the mobile unit, would conclude that Egbongbonwuyi’s behavior was typical. The policemen consider themselves above the law, even the laws their own bosses make. There are no indications that they are wrong.

One instance of this is the ban on road blocks and collection of illegal tolls on the road. The police have ignored this directive for more than two decades. Tolls from illegal check-points have become a good source of revenue to those who operate these road blocks.

Nigerians have almost given up on police authorities dismantling these check-points. They are more worried about policemen, who killed motorists at check-points because drivers refused to pay them a bribe. Again the police authorities have failed to do anything about this embarrassment that is enacted almost daily across the country.

Egbongbonwuyi may have killed innocent children, but other innocent children would suffer from this incident, more so if they are children of policemen, who medical personnel may be afraid to treat, since they cannot determine the rage of their fathers, if things go wrong.

If the authorities were in search of a reason to study the mental state of our policemen (and women), this chance is too good to be missed.


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