Often times we hear of the following clichés or aphorisms, ‘Help the police to help you. The police are your friend. The police are there to protect you. The police like the judiciary are the last hopes of the common man, report suspicious movements. Do not give bribe to the police. The police are an unbiased arbiter. How truthful, factual and applicable are these saying? How many times have the public been told that bail is free. yet none has been able to see a suspect granted bail out of the police station, at a price less than N10,000, even when the men in our uniform are fully aware that their suspect is innocent in a matter whether civil or criminal. This goes with the common parlance “I no follow, N10,000”.
How often has the trusting public been told by police authorities that they would dismantle check points only to be faced with myriads of illegal check-points, along the highways?. How often have the police been detailed to protect the public from criminals and criminalities but turned out to be the criminals themselves? Some men and officers in various formations have at one time or the other through their inefficiency, greed and personal graft or corrupt tendencies given wrong pictures and images to the public.
How often has the common man been denied of his fundamental human rights for the greed of a recalcitrant and gullible officer? How often have police authorities taken sides with politicians to wage war against the electorate? Very often the police tell the citizens that by law they have no hands or involvement in land matters but investigations reveal that they thrive in communal land disputes and indications and often get involved in traditional marriage affairs outside the social welfare units.
The police by ordinance are supposed to be the hub or pivot on which the security of the citizens revolve but then turns to be otherwise. The rule of the jungle takes precedence then there is chaos, confusion and anarchy. The police are supposed to be epitome of peace makers but in our clime, they police are trouble shooters.
Talking about the police in general, the case seems to be absolutely different in Imo State. The excessive or defaults can be categorized under several unfavourable and unsavoury notes that the people dread them for anything. Once you involve any citizen into police issue you become his lifelong enemy. They act as agents of oppression while in the politicians, government and pitch the rich against the poor, jobless and illiterate citizens. Cases abound where they are used for intimidation and illegal extortion of money from gullible innocent and even law abiding citizens.
Apart from the illegal road blocks scattered in all the nooks and environs of the state, specifically mounted only to extort money/tolls from motorists and young drivers, they turn to be willing tools in the hands of rich politicians only to deal with their perceived political opponents or insubordinate followers. They shield election riggers and examination malpractices and as well fail students or workers peaceful protests into full blown crisis. Take the cases of FMC, ALVAN and FUTO where accusing fingers, fingers point at the police. One of the notable things in the force is the case of unending police investigations that do not produce result thus hamper or slow down judicial processes in the state.
Findings of most notable criminal acts in the state are never known or made public. They are involved in executive intimidation, harassment and unlawful demolition of people’s property and or land acquisition by grabbing. Most times the police authorities aid and abet intimidation or gagging of the public mouth, “the press”. They indulge in intimidation of poor citizens for mere trifle matters simply because of their personal relations and at times fraternity with suspects as can be observed in some kidnap and robbery cases. How is it that the police that are at home with the law can be used as tools of illegal acts by governments? For instance, destruction of peoples property, shops residences and illegal obstruction by touts in the name of un reconsider task forces.
It is not our intention to castigate these important security men in uniform or cast aspersion on men who dedicate their lives that others may live so but we want to state that those in charge should wake up and work according to rules and law. We realize the police in Imo in few recent incidents have scored marvelous successes but the many deviances of majority of the men call for corrections and amendments. Think of a case where a widow and her 8 year old daughter were arrested and detained, her wares destroyed because the little girl had a misunderstanding with a boy alleged to be a relative of a senior police officer in Owerri North LGA. The poor widow had to sneeze out N30,000 to gain her freedom. What does one make of a case of suspected murder during a family brawl in Orlu involving a relation of a DPO in the state where others were arrested but the chief pugilist the DPO’s cousin was let off the hook. What does one make of the every evening toll collection by the armed men in uniform from keke operators and others motorists for no known offences?
What does one make of a group of special surveillance force squad who arrests some suspected young noveau, riche, cyber café; suspects take them to hide out to make financial demands?. Why is it that the force shies away from truth of events, for instance the Ekeonuwa market demolition where we were told no life was lost, yet Somtochukwu was a victim? When will police complete investigations in the myriads of criminal cases in our various courts in the state with some lingering over several years and alleged suspects languishing in our congested prisons while awaiting trials?
Do the police remember that justice delayed is justice denied? What is the role of the police in land disputes and debt collection? The public would like to know so as not to rubbish the good works of the police in the state due to ignorance. We appeal to these men in uniform to attempt to turn over a new leaf especially the big OGAS who detail the young officers to act otherwise while feigning ignorance of the activities of these young men and women. Ask them, they will tell you, “Oga knows about it”.
While one is not oblivious of some success recorded by the police in Imo in recent times, their other activities tend to conflict or rubbish their commendable exploits on crime fighting and prevention. There is imbalance in their functions. Only those who can pay will avail themselves of their services. For you to make any entry or report, you have to pay for files and stationary. Complainants often abandon their matter mid-way due to high cost of complaint.
You put a distance call there will be no available vehicle to reach the destination of the caller victim, unless we are sure he can offset our fare.
When the notable big name are susceptible to a crime investigations still going on for sure the police are not involved in any form of corruption for they neither give nor take bribe but you must “roger” at all times be in the good books but if one may ask, are the police friends or foes?