IT is most unfortunate that the #EndSARS protests against police brutality were hijacked by hoodlums. We should not however throw out the baby with the bath water.
Even before the protests, it had for long been the conventional wisdom that reforms to the policing system are imperative and urgently needed. Events reoccurring across the country continue to emphasis the imperative of reform. For amongst other things, countries need strong independent institutions to protect democracy and to be competitive. Nigeria cannot buck the trend and defy logic.
Reflective of recurring decimal is the shooting of The Nation newspaper’s Correspondent in Osun, Mr. Toba Adedeji and one other person, by officers of Osun State Police Command. Another reporter, Fatai Akanji was arrested. All of these happened during a protest a few days ago. We are relieved that Mr. Adedeji who was rushed to a medical facility and that the others who suffered collateral damage are also recovering.
The country cannot go on like this. The current policing system is not operated in any other country professing federalism. It is an illogical outcome of decades of centralised military rule reflecting the unitary command structure of both the command structure of the military as well as the nomenclature of an authoritarian state.
The structure is well past its sell-by date and should have been discarded at the onset of the restoration of democracy in 1999. This is the sensible route taking by Dr. Nelson Mandela when on becoming President reconstructed a new policing system to reflect the new democratic post-apartheid state. We should do the same with “the fierce urgency of now”.
We are in alignment with the statement issued yesterday by the Nigeria Union of Journalist, directing it’s members to stop coverage of Osun Police command activities, while calling for the redeployment of the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olawale Olokode. This position is correct and must be non-negotiable. We simply cannot go on like this.
We once again call for wholesale policy reforms whose operational framework will reflect accepted federalist standards. The methods of recruitment and selection must reflect the technology-driven world of today. Furthermore, the forensic science application into the system must be revamped, strengthened and modernised. Modern methods of crowd control and the supervision of demonstrations without the use of lethal force must be developed in line with international best practices. We have to discard an antediluvian system rooted in colonial incursion and military rule. We must do so now.