Law enforcement against impunity
The pain in Nigeria is not just that the number of citizens killed or humiliated by officers and men of the agencies charged with protecting them is alarming, the phenomenon shames the very concept of law enforcement and disgraces the agencies beyond description. From time to time, citizens come under the hammer of policemen, soldiers, customs officers and other security agents for no just cause. Bad enough as this is, interestingly, there are a number of such abuses within the law enforcement agencies too, in which case officers of one agency inflict violence on those of other security agencies either as a result of some rivalry or blatant senselessness thereby making mockery of the idea of law and order.
When it was reported the other day, therefore, that the Abia State House of Assembly Speaker, Chikwendu Kalu, allegedly ordered some policemen in the state to open gunfire on officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) who stopped the Sports Utility Vehicle his wife was travelling in along the Umuikaa/Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway, it was another case of official impunity and abuse of power, which the country should be rid of.
This is a worrisome shame, especially now that efforts are afoot to change the poor impression the civil populace has of the Police. It is regrettable, reprehensible and irresponsible for the men of the Nigerian law enforcement agencies who should protect defenceless citizens to turn against themselves. It is an unwarranted brutality, which is far from the conduct expected of men of the security forces of Nigeria. In fact, there are no acts of provocation that could justify the magnitude of attack unleashed on the FRSC officers. Such a brutal show of power should not go unpunished.
This disgraceful conduct was not only unfortunate, it is against the rule of law in a country that sets so much store of her pre-eminence on the African continent. It is only in a jungle that anybody does whatever he or she likes. So, opening fire on officers of the FRSC who were doing their legitimate duties remains one case too many of brigandage by men in uniform. The impunity of the policemen was, however, not as reprehensible as the arrogance of a spouse of a serving public official. Also, this case not only shows a certain negative disposition towards men of the FRSC by policemen, it is symptomatic of poor cohesion among some law enforcement agencies in the country. Nonetheless, the violent act is unjustifiable and unconstitutional.
It is a violation of the fundamental human rights of the FRSC officers and disrespect to the nation as a whole. This country is for all and all agencies established by law must be accorded their due respect. Public office holders and their spouses should not act as a top caste above the others. Nigeria belongs to every citizen and all are equal before the law. Any form of recklessness on the roads, which violates the rights to movement and dignity of persons and other road users should not be condoned. This explains why public officers, however, highly placed, and their spouses must be controlled on the road by law enforcement officers?
Therefore, this penchant for status above the law is not healthy for nation-building and should not be tolerated if there would be law and order in Nigeria. Office holders should, indeed, be less conscious of the positions they occupy and concentrate on the job for which they were employed by Nigerians.
This case in focus should be thoroughly investigated and should not for any reason be swept under the carpet. Furthermore, investigations into the matter and implementation of the findings must be such that assure Nigerians that the fundamental objectives of the rule of law will always be fully observed. Democracy is not an abstract. It is the only form of government that can protect all citizens against impunity. The culture of brutality and impudence has no place in it and Nigerians must be assured that as free citizens doing their legitimate duties, they can always be protected from wanton assault.Office holders, like all citizens, their spouses or any member of their families should be exemplars of compliance with the law, not breaking it.