Slain policemen – The Nation

  • What kind of country kills its rescuers?

If anyone has any doubt about the utter display of impunity and lack of respect for human life, disrespect for the rule of law, treachery, warped social values, hostile military/civilian and military/police relations in a post-independent Nigerian nation, the recent killing of three policemen attached to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP)’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and a civilian in Taraba State comes off as a valid affirmation.

The gory viral video of the execution-style murder of the IRT officers who were on a national duty, by officers of the Nigerian Army, comes with the intense unspeakable seeming anarchy that has  over the years characterised military/civil relations in the country. The outrage over the murder  would endure for years but it is not an isolated incident of violence and flagrant display of impunity by the military of all arms – soldiers, the navy, the air force – and even paramilitary officers across the country.

It does seem that since the incursion of the military into the governance space shortly after independence through often bloody coups and counter-coups, the superiority complex of the military in Nigeria has literally subjugated the constitution under the military display of brute force and lack of respect for the rule of law. The tragedy of the Nigerian nation is that certain aberrational behaviours subsist unchecked because of very weak institutional framework that often makes might seem like it is right.

The very repulsive social cliché, ‘bloody civilians’ eloquently  speaks to the contempt with which the military holds civilians, including the police and other paramilitary institutions empowered by the country’s constitution. Over the years, no lasting valid action seems to have been taken by successive governments to stop the abuse of power by the military and it is doubtful if the institutions of the various military arms have solid plans to detoxify their men and women of the superiority complex through training and re-training and some psychotherapeutic evaluations.

The despicable story surrounding the death of those Intelligence officers of the Nigerian police is a sore blight on the image of a nation almost on its knees due to rampant insecurity. For these officers to be killed in such wanton disregard for the rule of law and under such nauseating circumstances as captured on video by eye witnesses are as indicting of the Nigerian system as it is totally regrettable. To think they were almost exchanged for an alleged notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Wadume, is pitiable. Permutations can go on, investigations can go on, perfunctory outrage can hit the heavens but it is sad that such high profile intelligence officers with recorded success in cracking criminal kidnappings in Nigeria can be so wasted.

We feel that Nigeria has not just lost those officers and the civilian, it is going to be a long road to freedom from kidnappings in Nigeria. How many other police officers can risk their lives to go after criminals who have kept Nigerians agitated and in fear of their lives?

The training those officers received and the dedication they displayed in tracking down the notorious Evans, the kidnapper, the arrest of 22 Boko Haram masterminds of the kidnap of the Chibok girls in 2014, the arrest of Umar Abdulmalik, the overall Boko Haram Commander of North-Central and several of his group members, the arrest of the kidnappers of two American and two Canadian citizens in Kaduna State and most recently, the rescue of Magajin Garin Daura in Kano State and arrest of 13 terrorists responsible for the kidnapping of the Magajin Garin Daura in his hometown, Daura, Katsina State, on May 1, 2019, among many other outstanding feats,” including other very laudable achievements seem to have melted away like butter under hot knife.

The conspiracy theories surrounding the killing of the men, blood-chilling as they are, must be a springboard for Nigerian government to take very immediate and result-oriented actions to stem the tide of military impunity in Nigeria at all levels. No country survives the brazen military incursion to civilian space. We must begin to clean out the Augean stable as we work towards a retraining and rehabilitation of the military for our democracy to thrive.

Most of the military officers are weighed down by combats inside the country with too many casualties. They might be armed but they are not superhuman. Their post-traumatic disorder issues must be socially and clinically addressed but best of all, the system must be restructured to empower agencies for a better civilian participation in the fight against crimes and insurgencies. We hope these deaths, while not isolated or more important than series of others would signpost a wake-up call for the Nigerian government to take security issues more seriously.

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