The Nigeria Police Force is the country’s principal law enforcement agency, founded in 1930. Traditionally, the police are the officials responsible for law enforcement, order and maintenance in the society.
However, some bad eggs in the force have opted for the brutal use of force beyond the limit permissible by law. Unfortunately, the same people who are supposed to be all citizens’ custodians have turned into their oppressors.
Of late, some shocking levels of violence and abuse have been found with police officers in the country. People have died and are dying at the hands of police officers. Torture routinely takes the place of proper investigation, and a series of corrupt practices have become business of the day by the same people who are supposed to be societal role models.
However, following lamentations by concerned Nigerians, including government officials and security operatives, the Police Service Commission and other concerned stakeholders have been working together to bring about a feasible change in the force by reformation.
Citizens Crossing The Lines
The police have been involved in many cases of assault and violation of human rights. Recurrent events birthed a series of protests across the country, where many citizens took the law into their hands, attacking and destroying government properties while assaulting police officers.
Aside from the direct attacks recently on police officers by citizens, some influential people, including politicians, have been seen in several instances converting their police aides to housemaids.
Not only that, some citizens now have no regard for people in police uniforms. Many Nigerians now conclude subconsciously that every man in police uniform is a ‘mini devil’.
The Seun Kuti Slap Saga
Recently, the name of Afrobeat musician and son of music legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Seun Kuti, made news headlines following his arrest on May 13 for slapping a police officer.
A viral video clip seen by Naija News online showed Seun slapping a police officer on a busy road in Lagos. The development triggered a warrant of arrest from the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba.
Seun was subsequently arrested and placed into a cell after interrogation. He has been detained at the State Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba, Lagos.
Many Nigerians have since aired their comments about Seun’s act, his arrest and detention.
Seun Anikulapo Kuti And the Law
On Saturday, May 20, 2023, popular Institutional Reforms Advocate, Convener #EndSARS #ReformPoliceNG Advocacy, President/Founder SIAF, and CEO/Founder Aliensmedia, Segun Awosanya (Segalink), shared his ‘honest opinion’ about the event, which saw Seun Kuti slap an officer of the law.
Segalink, who expressed his respect for the Anikulapo family, said nothing justifies Seun’s actions against the police officer he assaulted.
He said: “The media has been awash with the incident involving Seun Anikulapo Kuti and the Police officer he assaulted verbally and battered as evidenced by the viral video recorded by an eye witness.
“There was another video evidence on social media of the son of the Afro Beat Legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, boasting about having slapped several police officers before.
“The authorities have since taken up the case under Section 356 (5) of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, which states that a person will be said to have committed ‘Serious Assault’ when such a person “assaults, any person on account of any act done by him in the execution of any duty imposed on him by law; is guilty of a felony and liable to imprisonment for three years.”
Section 98 of the Nigerian Police Act of 2020 also provides as follows: “A person who assaults, obstructs or resists a police officer in the discharge of his duty, or aids or incites any other person to assault, obstruct or resist a police officer or other person aiding or assisting the police officer in the discharge of his duty, commits an offence and is liable on conviction.”
Awosanya recalled that the officer assaulted by Seun was on duty, driving a Police vehicle and wearing the uniform of the Nigeria Police Force before he was recorded being verbally assaulted, slapped, and pushed around by the embattled singer.
“It was later gathered that the Officer made a petition to this effect with evidence before the video went viral, which spurred the IGP’s order for the arrest of Seun Kuti.
“While my sentiments may lie with the Kuti Family for the sacrifice of years and unjust encounters with the authorities under the military interregnum, nothing justifies Seun’s outburst and action that runs against the grain of the provisions of law,” Awosanya said.
The #EndSARS convener acknowledged that the Kuti family are law-abiding advocates of good governance, justice, equity, and fairness, and Fela’s legacy speaks for itself, void of violence and public incitement.
Segalink added: “Our organization (Social Intervention Advocacy Foundation —SIAF) has been monitoring the prosecution of the Police on the matter and is yet to establish any infringement on the rights of the talented singer. Seun has also been cooperating with the investigation despite mixed reactions from the general public and supporters.
“Many have alleged that there is a witch-hunt; others claimed that if the table were to be turned, the response may be different. But as the President and Founder of SIAF that conveyed the #EndSARS #ReformPoliceNG Advocacy since 2017 till date, I can assure the public that no officer has gone without prosecution for infringing on the fundamental rights of the citizenry at least from our records and that of the Police Complaint Response Unit under the Deputy Commissioner of Police Markus Ishaku as Empowered by the Police Act 2020.
“The public sentiment from some quarters is understood, but the law is not based or implemented on sentimental grounds. The matter (which is a case of felony) is already in the process of judicial adjudication. What we can do now is not to worsen the situation by inciting the public against the Police (based on what some are doing online with mean-spirited tweets, ‘whataboutism’, and other propaganda).
“We must not sink to the bottom of our emotional barrel by justifying lawlessness, the squandering of privilege, and the unfortunate incident caused largely by hubris. The law is clear, and we can only appeal that justice should be tempered with mercy. However condemnable his actions may be, his person is redeemable with necessary anger management intervention.”
According to Segalink, it became essential to recognize that everyone has biases and prejudices, including Police officers. However, it’s instructive not to let these biases cloud our judgment or actions.
He added: “When you have cause to engage Police Officers, the following may be helpful anywhere in the world;
1. Stay calm and respectful: Even if you feel that the police officer is being unfair or biased, it’s important to remain calm and respectful. This can help to de-escalate the situation and prevent it from becoming more confrontational.
2. Avoid making assumptions: Try not to assume that the police officer is biased or prejudiced against you. Instead, focus on the facts of the situation and try to communicate clearly and calmly.
3. Be aware of your own biases: It’s important to recognize that you may also have biases or prejudices that could affect your interactions with police officers. Try to be aware of these biases and work to manage them.
4. Seek support if needed: If you feel that you have been unfairly treated by a police officer, it’s important to seek redress via available means in that country.
“In Nigeria reach out to the Twitter handles of the following; @PoliceNG_CRU @DCPIshaku Force PRO FHQ: @Princemoye1 @LagosPoliceNG @BenHundeyin or @SIAF_NG if it’s a life/death situation.”