THE recent maltreatment meted out to some female personnel of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Port Harcourt, by a superior officer speaks volumes of how official power is frequently excessively exercised among our uniformed services.
In a brazen display of authority, the Rivers State Sector Commander of the Corps, Mr. Ayodele Kumapayi, during an early morning routine “hair, uniform and fingernails” inspection parade, used a pair of scissors to cut the hairdo of some female officials.
A video of the Commander carrying out the punitive action ignited outrage in the social media. The FRSC official guide for female staff members at FRSC parades stipulates that they “maintain a hair style that can be tucked into their beret”. There is no prescription for the action the Sector Commander took. Certainly, the action, which dehumanised the officers, was outside the FRSC mandate and decent public conduct.
There is no doubt that every organisation has its codes and ethical practices that guide employees’ conduct. Such rules and regulations must not, however, infringe on an individual’s right to dignity. When the rules are violated there must be acceptable ways of dealing with violators officially. Subjecting officers to such humiliation was a disciplinary measure taken too far. Women, in civilised climes, are accorded courtesy and respect. Female officers in the military, paramilitary and the police are still women. The Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, took the right action by recalling the Sector Commander to face a panel of inquiry into the incident.
It is, however, not surprising that the female officers concerned were also recalled. Much as the outcome of the inquiry into the incident should not be pre-empted we must acknowledge that they failed to observe the rules of their organisation and must be officially reprimanded.
Our uniformed officers must carry themselves responsibly at all times because the uniforms they wear symbolise discipline, orderliness and zero tolerance for loose conduct. This cherished tradition cannot be thrown overboard in the name of trendy fashion.
The military, paramilitary and law enforcement agencies should curb their excesses. Their frequent displays of barbarism and impunity on junior officers and members of the public have become public eyesores which are not doing their image any good.
In this age of instant cameras mounted on virtually every smart electronic device, with their owners ready to snap and upload to the internet, our uniformed officers can do with greater restraint in their public conduct to avoid putting the image of their services and the nation into disrepute.