As expected, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, moved against the ringleaders of the move to call out personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, to a nationwide strike.
In mid-March 2022, some of the organisers of the supposed industrial action announced a two-week “warning strike” as a prelude to the main event. Their grouses were poor working conditions, poor salaries, lack of “genuine” welfare and outdated weapons. They also complained over the continuous killing of their colleagues by terrorists and criminals without adequate compensation for the families of victims.
The Police authorities swung into action to break the proposed strike. Through phone call tracing, the organisers were monitored and four were hauled into detention. The dismissal of nine of them on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, from the Force was aimed at stamping out the planned protest.
Though we oppose open Police industrial action, we fear that the sack of the proposed strike’s ringleaders will worsen situations within the Force and the system as a whole. It will only lead the rest of the personnel to bottle up their feelings and impose the peace of the graveyard.
What an irony that the same police personnel sent to quell the first anniversary of the #EndSARS protest on October 20, 2021 are now left to protest for themselves over their poor conditions of service! It is now obvious that the measures the Presidency and Police authorities took to “appease” the #EndSARS protesters in terms of police welfare made no meaningful impact.
The resort to internal repression of protest leaders will not vitiate the general feeling of estrangement within the Force. We are likely to face more failures in law enforcement, corruption among the rank and file as well as heightened Police brutality. We are witnesses to the refusal of policemen across the country to respond to distress calls after the post-#EndSARS violence in October 2020, during which 22 officers were killed and 44 police stations destroyed.
Since then, terrorists and other faceless alienated groups have continued to kill Police and other law enforcement officers. On the other hand, brazen acts of corruption and brutality by men and women of the Force have heightened on our streets and highways. As our Police and Army appear to weaken more and more, anarchy is looming larger. Criminals and terrorists are emboldened and citizens have nowhere to run to.
These failures in law enforcement, security, education, health and economic outlook must be halted. All efforts to reform the Police in the past 30 years have failed woefully. Officers now fend for themselves with their weapons. Since the Federal Government has lost its capacity to adequately cater for its Police Force, state policing can help. It is not too late to explore that option.