Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
Federal Special AntiRobbery Squad ~FSARS have been at swords drawn with the public, in the South of Nigeria.
Young men are believed to be at risk, of drawing the attention of FSARS officers.
Young women are not spared, either, for they, too, have narrated experiences at the hands of FSARS.
FSARS, a department in the Nigeria Police Force ~NPF, are accused of harassment, excessive use of force, extortion, armed robbery, unlawful detention, murder, et cetera.
Here is a personal narrative, which will not include too many details, for obvious reasons.
A longtime friend of Umm Sulaim, in Lagos, informed her of problems he is facing at the hands of notorious landgrabbers, who sell the same measure of land to multiple persons.
Well, Umm Sulaim’s friend and his partners, who are legal owners of the land, alerted the Police.
One day, in the office of FSARS, he and his business partners were enraged that they were being asked to pay the duped buyers.
Previously, his partners paid the duped buyers, but there was an increase in the demanded sum of money.
Because of Umm Sulaim’s advice against offering payments to anyone, her friend did not contribute anything to that payment.
The person, who committed the fraud, ought to be arrested, arraigned in court, and made to refund the money collected from the duped buyers.
Instead, Umm Sulaim’s friend and his business partners were detained by FSARS and they spent the night in a Police cell.
Their detention was for their angry tone towards the officers.
Throughout Umm Sulaim kept trying to get across to her friend, who could not speak over the telecommunications connection, so as not to draw the attention of the officers.
On their release the next day and, after a successful telephone connection to her friend, Umm Sulaim advised him to avoid being charged to court by the Police, as the charge will have nothing to do with the land, but will be based on their conduct in FSARS office.
He was adamant of his rights; after all, he has had previous encounters with the Police.
Concerned that her friend will land himself in prison remand, Umm Sulaim asked her contact to intervene, to save her friend from himself.
In summary, her contact was willing to help and her friend, eventually, heeded her piece of advice.
As of now, there has been no further contacts with FSARS.
Meanwhile, Umm Sulaim counselled her friend to have no communication, whatsoever, with the duped buyers or the fraudulent sellers.
The ocean remains calm, provided turbulence is not entertained.
Apart from FSARS, another Police office that has drawn the wrath of Southern Nigerians is the Special AntiCultism Squad ~SACS.
Just as their FSARS colleagues, SACS are accused of brutality and other human rights violations attributed to FSARS.
Southerners demand a total shutdown of these Police units.
Now, why are the activities of FSARS, SACS, and the Police Force, in general, creating such upheavals in Southern Nigeria, and not in Northern Nigeria?
The very first reason is that, while money can exchange hands in any part of the Nation, before anyone does their job, bribery is more ingrained in the psyche of Southerners than in Northerners.
Umm Sulaim has heard someone in the South insist the Police do their duty, only when they receive cash incentives from the complainant.
The outcome is every officer is expected to be unprofessional, until a large sum of Naira notes is offered by the public.
The Police enforce this misconception, each time they accept cash or gifts from any member of the public.
Several officers, including Commissioners Of Police, miss a vital opportunity to educate the public, by warmly rejecting the bribe.
Yes, a bribe, it is, even if the officer did not request it, to do their job.
A second reason for the decay in confidence between the Police and the public in the South is a disdain for the law.
Frequently, Police officers are accused of contempt of the law.
Do the public respect the law?
Do the public believe there are laws in Nigeria?
Umm Sulaim has heard Southern civilians claim there is no enforceable law in Nigeria.
In other words, they can do as they please, with no consequence.
While the same disdain for the law exists in the North, the experiences of Umm Sulaim indicate violators of the law are arrested and charged to court, as often as the offence is committed.
Private citizens, religious leaders, and prominent personalities have been arrested, in cases known to Umm Sulaim.
Should that happen in Lagos, for instance, the social media will be agog with the mob mentality that such arrests have an unhealthy undertone.
No, they were not arrested for the crime they perpetrated, but for wearing a pair of expensive footwear, riding a nice car, and having the latest smartphone.
No, religious leaders must never be arrested, for such arrests are the plots of members of the other religion, to dominate Nigeria.
Religious leaders must be pardoned, for they are tempted more than the rest of the population.
No, prominent figures or politicians can not be brought to justice, either, for they are the owners of the land.
In fact, such leaders own the citizens and must be hailed for owning their fellow human beings.
Should the arrests be for crimes committed against a person of a different State or ethnicity, the outrage display sentiments, such as:
How can our leaders be arrested, because of someone who is not from here?
Their leaders must not be arrested, because here is not located in Nigeria and, thus, is not covered by the Constitution.
A third reason for the conflict is a gross misunderstanding of Police operations.
Even when in the right over one issue, one can be arrested over another issue, should one violate the law.
An example could be when a Police officer stops and questions a citizen.
The citizen may feel they are in the right, as they have not committed an offence.
That is true.
Nevertheless, during the course of the question-and-answer session, the citizen addresses the officer, rudely.
An offence has been committed, for which the citizen can be detained.
In all matters, there is a need for safety consciousness and respect for the rights of others.
No matter how justified one feels, do not resist arrest.
The Police are empowered to use a minimum force to enforce an arrest, an invitation, a detention, and a selection of other legal terminology.
Do not find out, through a firsthand experience, the meaning of a minimum force.