“I will fire you”
“If you move, I will shoot”
“I go just give you one bullet for leg”
“I will shoot you and nothing will happen”
You’ve probably heard any of these sentences from a police man in Nigeria. If you’ve not, your driver has probably heard it, or your danfo driver has heard it. Someone you know has sha heard it.
For these gun-wielding men in uniform, shooting a citizen is a way of reinforcing their authority and powerfulness in the minds of people. There’s a need to remind unarmed citizens to obey them and “if you say pim or try to resist in any way, I will shoot you…”
Worse still, there is this smile that dances at the corner of their mouths when they say this. If they are not smiling, they are roaring in laughter or uncontrollable rage.
Nigerian policemen are trigger-happy and we cannot help but wonder why. There’s this need to show civilians that they have power and this power can be used unchecked. The odd part of it is that these same people become chickens in the face of real danger and weapon-wielding criminals. But once they are with unarmed civilians, their energy reaches its peak, their veins pop out, violent adrenaline surge through their body and their hands begin to dart restlessly towards their guns.
It is unfortunate that, although tasked with the responsibility of protecting citizens from harm, many policemen have become big bullies with guns.
If they are not shooting, they are threatening to shoot, or ‘joking’ about shooting. They will cock their guns in your face and when they see terror and fear written all over you, they’ll throw their heads back in laughter and say something like “na play I dey play, why you too dey fear like this na?”
Ehn? Which kain yeye play be dis?
If you are a Nigerian in Nigeria, you must have heard the words ‘accident discharge’ and ‘stray bullet’ so many times that they have almost become normal. Everyone knows what Nigerian policemen are capable of doing when they’re holding their guns, so they try to avoid them like one would avoid someone with Ebola.
In April 2019, two policemen, Olalekan Ogunyemi and Godwin Orji shot an unarmed man Kolade Johnson at a viewing centre in Ebute Meta.
In August, 30-year old Busayo Owoodun was fatally hit by a stray bullet in Ijegun, Lagos. That same August, stray bullet from a policeman killed a father of four. Again in August, a stray bullet killed a pregnant woman in Lagos. We can go on and on about the Okada Rider that was killed by policemen, or the one who killed a bus driver, tailor, market woman… in fact, anyone who is unfortunate to meet them at that point.
So when again, a Nigerian policeman showed his superpower and was caught on camera shooting anyhow at a residential area, Nigerians were not surprised.
VIDEO: Nigeria Police Officer Seen Shooting Sporadically At The House Of A Resident, During An Unwarranted Arrest, In Aba, Abia State.pic.twitter.com/7Moa6dprme
— The Viral Trendz (@TheViralTrendz) November 4, 2019
Many people have tried to guess why our policemen are so swift to make use of their guns when talking to an unarmed civilian and we have a few reasons:
Display of Power
An average Nigerian policeman is power-drunk, this overdose on power is one of the factors that enable their abuse of power. They are always in a hurry to show you who the boss is. There’s this underlying need to prove to you that, to an extent, they are above you and can do and undo.
Little or No Anger Management Classes
We are not even sure if our policemen undergo any form of training or education. The average policeman on the road cannot string together two correct sentences in English language (which is the official language in Nigeria). It will be too much to expect them to know how to operate a laptop, computer, and certain smartphones. Because they do not understand how a laptop works or the many things that can be done with it, they are always swift to tag anyone they find holding a laptop a yahoo boy. This lack of training is reflected in everything the Nigerian policemen do; from their inability to manage their anger to their overdose on power, to their failure to carry out due investigation in criminal cases and their moralistic stand on issues where they are meant to apply the law. It is obvious that most policemen are not in any way professional and do not deserve that uniform.
Many people also blame the economy of the country for the ruthlessness and incompetence of the Nigerian Police. According to them, poverty is biting hard into their flesh, so they have no choice but to carry out their anger on innocent people. But hold on? Isn’t this economy affecting us all? Why is everyone not moving mad and killing one another? Policemen are not the only ones being affected by the economy, so why should that be an excuse? If you cannot be professional, even in the face of glaring hardship, pull off your uniform and drop the gun so you won’t kill us all. Case closed!
The Plastic Hand of the Law
In a lawless country like Nigeria, anything goes. Out of all the trigger-happy policemen who have killed innocent people by mistake, how many of them have been prosecuted? How many of the victims have found justice? Policemen can be careless with their guns because laslas, nothing will happen and they will all go scot-free.
This is a call for all policemen to do better and stop testing their guns on innocent people. Nigeria has enough armed robbers, kidnappers, and criminals in all forms. Go after them.
The Nigerian Police Force needs to do better in recruiting and training their men. We cannot have rogues in uniforms splattered across the country.
Had any near-death experience with the Nigerian Police? Share with us.