Apart from being the world’s poverty capital, Nigeria is also known as owning one of the worst police force in the world. This is not surprising for those living in Nigeria but will be a little surprise to people who are miles away from the West African country. How does it feel like to be in a country that has one of the worst and corrupt police force? Does the government know about this? How do the common Nigerians respond to this?
Nigerian blogs and news houses feed on the day to day brutal events by the police. This kind of news is hotcakes, catchy and easy to source because it can happen often. It has become almost a daily exercise; video clips of police attacks captured on cameras and melancholic stories about this police cruelty have been published by millions of Nigerian blogs daily but yet the brutality continues. In recent years, there has been an utter dependence by the masses on the media to end police brutality stories. Does the media have the liberating potential to end these ugly events from happening again? This answer will never be found on the desk in the editor’s cubicle or the shanty room of a private Nigerian blogger. One thing the media does is to make it known, then maybe a Twitter outrage which will eventually motivate the Public Relations Department of the police force to throw in some uplifting words on how justice must be served and then the rest is history. Tomorrow morning, another scenario, in another city, by another policeman and so the story goes. I believe the media likely exposes this abnormality and the PR dashes out a good speech to silence the situation – the fire-water reaction. Yes, it works! Life continues. Twitter has made it easier for condolences; you can now show you care by tweeting about these tragic situations. With these tweets – the masses now know you care. The government also has found this method helpful too, they tweet/condole with heavy hearts – not just on police brutality but also on several killings that go on the country. They just tweet!
In a poor economy where the majority of people are poor and angry, fear of the police seems to be a major tool to create silence and order. Several protests have been welcomed with brutal attacks from the police, many jailed and are due for court trials for protesting and ‘insulting’ the president. The question is, why would you protest when you have already known the outcome. Why would you scream so loud, hold a placard with the much-adored solidarity, only to earn a broken leg or a sleepover in the cell (if you are lucky)? In a quick guess, brutality weakens the masses and the government knows about this.
Will the brutality stop? The Nigerian government have all the answers. The media, Twitter, the bloggers and media houses do not have the answer. The question we may have an idea on is, why is the government not interested in curbing police brutality? For example, a unit of the Nigerian Police Force called Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has been widely known for their unlawful arrest, extortions and trigger happiness. Meanwhile, the #EndSARs campaign was a massive online/offline advocacy led by Segun Awosanya and could have been heard properly by the government. And it was heard. The masses received optimistic news from the Federal Government of Nigeria to reform SARS. After a few months, it donned on most Nigerians that nothing has changed. It was just a typographical reformation.