Here for the violence

Policemen have feelings. That’s what I was told this week. Against every notion of what was passed to me growing up, that “police is your friend”, my experience of over two decades on earth has proven otherwise.

I was robbed of my valuables–phone, wallet etc– on October 1st, 2019 at Ojota, Lagos by cultists posing as street boys. The incident happened at 7:45pm a few metres away from a police van belonging to the Ogudu Area police station. Nobody offered to help. Not even the figures in and around the van. Quite a hard time believing that the police is my friend when the state imposed friend could not lift a finger to help me in my greatest hour of need.

Anyway, since the aftermath of the EndSARS protest, policemen have literally disappeared from their duty posts. That is if they were ever there. Law enforcement officers took enormous losses when the governments at both state and federal levels decided to play a dog’s role by sending in the dogs to hijack a very peaceful social movement to end police brutality. From available count, at least 15 police officers were killed across the country, while several more police stations were burnt. In response, there has been a decrease in morale of police officers, thus finding it difficult to do their jobs.

As a result, no fewer than 20 persons have been killed in renewed rivalry between cult groups in Benin. The warring cult groups have literally taken control of about three local government areas, namely, Ikpoba Okha, Egor and Ovia North East, of the south senatorial district of the state. Areas such as Upper Sakpoba, 3rd Junction, Three House and St. Saviour, all in Ikpoba Okha local government area are in the clutches of the rival cult groups suspected to be members of Black Axe and Eiye confraternities. The gunmen are also in full control of areas like Medical Store Road, Textile Mill Road, and Ogida Quarters in Egor local government area, while Ugbowo, Isiohor and Oluku, in Ovia South local government area, have been taken over by the cult groups.

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That’s Edo. In Ekiti, commercial banks in Ikere-Ekiti, the headquarters of Ikere Council Area of Ekiti State were shut down yesterday following the alleged withdrawal of service by policemen. Policemen have deserted the community following the burning of two police stations and destruction of the Area Command by hoodlums during the #ENDSARS protests.

The story has not been different in Bayelsa. Already, traders, residents and commuters around the popular Tombia Market in Yenagoa, said they were robbed of their cash and valuables on October 30 when two rival cult groups engaged in a gun battle for several hours.

According to witnesses, the gun battle between the cult groups identified as Bobos and Greenlanders began in the wee hours of Friday and lasted till about 7:30am before a combined team of the military and police restored peace. That was in October. This week, there has been a series of attacks on the state capital by cultists engaging in armed robbery using police camouflage and tricycles or Keke Napep.

All these are pointers to the reality that of course, Nigeria is a deeply under-secure country, but let us not forget that the depths of this despair of security crises (that is now affecting local economies) was brought upon by the government itself. Actions have consequences. And in insane climes as ours, the worst of the consequences are borne by ordinary people who do not have the state apparatuses at their disposal to defend themselves from poor policy decisions of the government. Whatever gains the federal and state governments thought they could achieve by deploying armed thugs to scuttle protests, it has backfired. And for a government that repeatedly refuses to learn from its past actions (arming young men to disrupt elections and failing to recover the weapons after, leading to an increase in crime rate), there seems to be no ceiling to the reprehensible actions they think and cough up.

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When police officers repeatedly refuse to return to their duty posts despite several orders by the inspector general, it tells you of a bigger issue I have complained about several times in the previous weeks–the command structure of the police force is so broken that it needs repairs. And it needed it yesterday. Given the lack of incentive by policemen to resume their duties, there does not seem to be an end in sight for the violence we are currently witnessing, especially as police officers in the North West have become soft targets by bandits to the point of kidnapping 12 at one sitting.

We truly are here for the violence.

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