From experience, the police are not the type to show resourcefulness or intellectual competence when addressing civil matters.
“The police is your friend", a well known brand statement of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) but based on a recent experience, I have found that to be false.
This has led me to lose entire faith in the interest of the organization to serve the citizens. I prefer to solicit help from a stranger who I found on a lonely night in Ogbomosho, Oyo State - whose father is the leader of a cult dedicated to worshipping the 'Esu' deity than to approach a policeman.
The sort of pain I can associate with their disregard for protocol can be likened to losing a loved one (that is if you are the type that makes you have). Its personnel from a personal encounter are never the type to show superior knowledge and composure when dealing with the people they have swore to protect.
There is an ensuing lack of professionalism in the force that that no amount of re-branding can mend.
I had the displeasure of visiting a police station located at Shagari Estate, Ipaja, Lagos, to lay a complaint about a tenant who consistently defaulted in an agreement. I entered its compound, a bare ground not more than two plots of land and walked up to three police officers – a male and two females.
The latter had made eye contact with a colleague indicating that they both will be attending to me. One of the female officers wearing the old black police uniform stood up from a bench she was occupying as I approached the main entrance. She remained by the counter as I walked further and greeted the other representatives of the NPF. I had a plan coming in. I wanted to be seen as respectful and polite.
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My interest was to ensure that I am able to make the point that brought me to the place and get the defaulter to comply with my demands. I believed I had a very nice winning strategy on the day.
The black uniform police woman, Sergeant Osioda, (not real name) unfolded a 20 leaves exercise book to write when I told her, "I will like to lay a complaint". Maybe the jotting material was actually 40 leaves. Inadequate care and an unkempt lifestyle might be the reason it appeared so light I was made to think as I fixated on the woman who had a very poor physical grooming I must note.
Osioda's set of teeth won't get her on the sh*t list of candidates being considered for a viral Close-Up (the toothpaste) ad. That is how unappealing a germaphobe might find her, Osioda also had the traditional tattoo you will find on the arms of female traders selling edibles in Gbagba market, Egba (Abeokuta).
While taking down my complaints, we were joined by her partner, Sergeant Oyinbo (not real name). The latter is a light-skinned woman who wore the recently introduced blue uniform. She had started to dig into a plate of ‘semo’ (A delicacy made out of flour paste that turns to solid form when heated) and vegetable soup. She was oblivious of the eyesore she was creating in the process of interacting with a complainant. Where is the professionalism in the force?
As I continued with my statement, Osioda interrupted me and requested that I speak in my mother language (Yoruba) "Sebi omo Yoruba ni e?," (Are you not a Yoruba?) she asked. She soon turned to her colleague, “Mi ogbo ohun ti n so” (I do not understand what he is saying). I quickly switched from interacting in elevated grammar to speaking Ibile (Local Language).
At this point, it would be hard to miss the look of disappointment on my face. But this only proved secondary to the greatest shock. Wait for it - I will need to buy an airtime for a phone call before they can invite the defendant to the district police post where I was.
There was silence in my mind as I processed what she told me. I knew from that instant that it had all being a wasted trip. The desire to get the issue resolve encouraged me to go purchase a N100 airtime voucher from a vendor. The situation can be likened to asking the dead to fund its own burial.
When the invitee arrived at the station we were referred to a 5.6 tall man identified as Kazeem who invited us to have a discussion under a tree located in the compound. He however requested to be excused for a moment which turned to be an hour. He asked us again to meet him in a room supposed to be an office after noticing that I was grumbling about being kept waiting. There I was able to state my demands which I made clear to the defendant.
Kazeem's treatment of the latter was another disappointment. “You are stupid man,” he said while addressing him. Yes, I was aggrieved based on the actions of the defaulter, but getting verbally abused by the police did not sit so well with me. The most damaging shock came when I was making my way out of the compound. Kazeem called on me and the counter party to ask “anything for me?,” I maintained silence. It was either that or I give him a piece of my mind.
Wherever you go in a search for a show of dignity, professionalism, job competence, intelligence and good etiquette, do not bet on the Nigeria Police Force, you would have sojourned down a path of regret and frustration.
The branding of the organization through ad campaigns is a waste of investment as long as its ambassadors fail to uphold its values if it has any.
The force should not be a home for individuals looking to get an income. There should be something deliberate about being a policeman. Passion and a desire to serve should be the core that defines what the NPF represents.
Great friends I have in abundance, but the Nigeria Police Force is not one of them.
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