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Need to ensure sacrifices of police personnel not in vain

A video, which went viral on social media recently, shows the cesspit of civic decadence the Nigerian society has sunk. In the video, a yet-to-be-identified and yet-to-be-apprehended driver is seen with a bottle in his hand and, by his inaudible statement but crystal clear action, threatens to break it on the head of a policeman inside the trunk of his vehicle.

The policeman was later identified as a senior officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Daudu Ajayi, attached to the Abattoir Division of the Lagos State Police Command. Despite his rank, the driver broke the bottle on ASP Ajayi’s head.

The officer sat on the edge of the trunk of the vehicle, held his injured head and started weeping, though inaudibly. Not done, the driver attempted to push the officer out of the vehicle. He, however, did not succeed before the video ended. Two men in the background, one of who probably recorded the scene, were running a commentary on the ignominy between the driver and the senior police officer.

One of the men was urging the driver to break the bottle on the police officer’s head while the other asked if he would have said that if the officer were his father. “Are you mad? Can’t you see him in uniform? He is a policeman!” he retorted gleefully. He roared in laughter when the driver eventually broke the bottle on Ajayi’s head. The driver’s action is not acceptable in a civilised environment.

It later came to light that the driver was fleeing after he was involved in an accident which caused injuries to a motorcycle rider and damage to a motorist’s car. The state’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, confirmed this in a statement He said: “The fact of the case is that on Wednesday 21st April, 2021, about 12.30pm, there was a case of ‘hit-and-run serious accident’ involving a vehicle with registration number BDG 756 YA, which hit a Camry car with registration number KJA 281 GQ, and as a result, a motorcycle rider, Ashiru Saadu, was affected and seriously injured.

“In the process, the driver of the Camry car waited but the driver of the Dyna vehicle with registration number BDG 746 YA escaped from the scene. Then, the Traffic Officer gave him a chase and was stopped at Pipeline area, Oko-Oba, Lagos. “The driver alighted from the vehicle, pounced on the Traffic Officer and broke a bottle on his head. The officer sustained varying degrees of injury.”

The attack on ASP Ajayi is not an isolated case. Attacks on police personnel have become not only rampant; they occur almost on a daily basis. Criminals are becoming daring, emboldened by the feeble response from the police authorities and the lethargic attitude of the Nigerian government to such attacks. The attacks have become more vicious every day. In another video, which went viral earlier, a 33-year-old man, Victor Ebhomenyen, assaulted and injured an ASP, Sunday Erhator. Ebhomenyen was apprehended for reportedly driving against traffic at Oniru area of the Lagos metropolis before he descended on the officer.

In the last couple of days, several officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force have been either killed or maimed during what seem to be coordinated attacks on police stations and formations mainly across the states of the South-East. For instance, two police officers were shot dead when armed men attacked Adani Police Divisional Headquarters in Enugu State. And on Monday, five more officers were killed when the Okigwe South Area Command of the Nigeria Police Force in Imo State was razed by yet-to-be identified gunmen. It is time Nigerians realised that an attack on police personnel is an attack on the Nigerian people.

First, the police personnel are our brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins, daddies and mummies. They are our flesh and blood, as it is usually said in the local parlance. Secondly, policemen are the ones we rely on for our security.

If the attacks do not stop now, how do they continue to defend us against threats? Accepted they have not adequately checked armed robberies, kidnappings, and other shades of crime. But can we imagine a scenario without the police? It is an unimaginable chaos! We know some rank and file of the police have not been above board in the discharge of the constitutional responsibilities, a resort to attacks on policemen at the slightest excuse is a deficit on our collective moral rectitude. We call on the Acting Inspector- General of Police (IG), Usman Alkali Baba, to create a focal point between the police and the Nigerian populace.

The police hierarchy should work on how to return the lost mutual respect and love between the men in uniform and the Nigerian public. The police also need to deploy technology in the discharge of their duty. That is what modern policing entails. Chasing a motorist should not be part of police man’s job – since every vehicle is registered. Although Ebhomenyen has been arrested for the attack on Erhator, the response to the attack on Ajayi is uninspiring. It is easy to arrest the fleeing driver because his vehicle’s registration number has been identified so the owner, and by extension the driver, could be traced. We urge the police to immediately arrest and bring the fleeing driver and those that have been laying siege on members of the NPF to book. This will serve as a deterrence to would-be attackers of police personnel.

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