Editorial

April 23, 2024

Nigeria Police Day

Akwa Ibom: Murder of policeman,others signal renewed terror

The idea of a Nigeria National Police Day is very welcome. We commend the President Bola Tinubu administration for setting aside April 7 every year as the National Police Day to honour our policemen and women who most of the time mortgage their lives, comfort and convenience to ensure that the rest of the population are safe.

There are specific sectors of the public or government workforce which deserve special recognitions and because of their sacrificial services to the nation. Already, the Armed Forces and our Teachers have been honoured. With the extension of this privilege to the Police, we call for a special day for our health workers (doctors, nurses and others) who also risk their lives to save ours, particularly as we experienced during the Ebola and COVID-19 pandemics.

The Nigeria Police Force, NPF, have a special nationwide constitutional mandate to maintain law and order and safeguard the citizens. They are the primary law enforcement agency whose personnel work round the clock, round the year. They carry the heaviest burdens of society on their shoulders and are saddled with sorting out the “dirtiest” jobs that arise from human cohabitation.

Over the years, our once highly-respected, well-trained and efficient Police Force who were accommodated in sparkling barracks have been so neglected that few well-educated and ambitious young people prefer police as their first choice of career. The abject neglect gave way to widespread corruption among the officers and personnel, which also resulted in increasing brutality and acts of impunity against civilians, especially the youth.

Regard for our police force sank to lowest level after the #EndSARS protests of October 2020 which ended in the Lekki Toll Gate shootings. A protest originally organised to campaign for police welfare and reforms backfired when soldiers were drafted to quell the peaceful protests at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020 with live arms.

The attack on unarmed protesters resulted in the systematic targeting, killing, maiming of police officers and the burning down of their facilities in many parts of the country. After that unfortunate mayhem, the Police became so demoralised that it took time for them to recover their high spirit to do their work.

The main purpose of the reforms that President Tinubu said his administration has embarked upon must be aimed to restore the mutual respect between the people and their police. The police personnel come from among the people and belong to them. The mutual suspicion and antagonism are uncalled for.

Government should desist from saddling the Army with Police work. Beyond dedicating a day of commendation to our Police Force, the issues of boosting professionalism, welfare, training, equipment, personnel and creating state police must be addressed.

This must go beyond annual photo optics.