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Home Opinion Kick Starter with Femi Owoeye Need to Spy the Road Guards

Need to Spy the Road Guards

By: FEMI OWOEYE

Given the daily maiming and bombing of human beings in Northern Nigeria, one would be too reluctant to blame President Buhari’s regime or Inspector General of Police for approving return of police roadblocks across the nation, albeit if I had been in a position to advise the IG, mounting of police road blocks would not have been on my suggestion list. No matter what.

Of course, given the thickness of his credentials, the current Nigeria’s acting Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, is, doubtless, a man of experience and high profile police professional. Arase, who enlisted into the Nigerian Police 34 years ago, holds a Master’s Degree in Law from the University of Lagos and another Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan. Couple with his years of experience within and outside Nigeria, IG Arase’s capability cannot be qualm. His setting up of stopthebribes Platform, a forum meant to instil discipline and professionalism in the police force, is a testimony to his stand on the current shape of the nation’s police institution.

Acting Inspector General of Police Mr Solomon Arase
Acting Police IG, Mr Solomon Arase

But, come to think of it, this is not about Arase, but the Nigerian policing system, made up of the same officers; civil servants; typical Nigerians, who have served under a corrupt system, which, over decades, institutionalized dishonesty across the nation. The situation is so bad that even if the police or other civil servants, mounting road blocks “table blocks” in various government ministries, as the case may be, were to start receiving twice their current salaries, asking for bribe or weting-you-bring-come would still naturally manifest. For it has become like a religion. It’s like insanity.

Since the announcement of return of police highway patrol, which has naturally transformed or given birth to road blocks at corners, hide-outs  and most dangerous traffic points across the nation, the old police toll collection scenes have returned. It has been like legitimized hidden toll system, especially for commercial transporters. Yes, along the highways, like Lagos-Ibadan Express road or Benin-Ore Road, you may find police vehicles merely patrolling. But turning off and travelling towards towns in Osun, Ogun, Ekiti, Edo or Kwara States, what you discover is not good enough for what Buhari’s regime stands for.

While the police are meant to patrol the highways as deterrent against “boko harams, what some of the so-called patrol teams do is to collect what Muslims refer to as “haram”. It’s no use censuring the culprits. Like I earlier pointed out, it is an old tendency, with many lives. So it dies hard. And the present rulers of Nigeria should have known this. Yes. I give it to President Buhari that he has been busy trying to plan, settle down, develop tactics and dig into what has been nicked from our national wallets. There are new nicking going on along our roads!

But I have an idea: Spy the Road Guards. That’s a simple and effective solution that would ease the present IG’s assignment. Recently, a Motoring World Correspondent jammed one in the act along Osun-Ekiti Road. He copied the culprit’s police identification number and published it. I’m sure it circulated among millions of users of social media. And stopthebribes Platform must have dealt with the case. It was shared and shared, which further tells me how much Nigerians detest this act. Why can’t passengers and member of the public play the spying role effectively, you may ask?

The culprits have long devised a new strategy. Their customers(the drivers) know what to do. They simply stick the bribe in between vehicle documents or one sheet of paper known as travel manifest, walked away from the passengers, usually towards the rear end of the vehicle (which makes it more strenuous, having to turn your neck to spy), hand over the paper to the officer, who would open the document, as if checking something, but one hand would normally make a quick trip to and from his trousers’ side pocket. Driver receives back his papers and simply drive on. It doesn’t matter if there is a terrorist among the passengers. Or all the passengers could be boko haram members traveling to bomb a town or state out of existence. It would not matter. It’s Operation-Settle-us-and Carry-on.

And given the terror memories of police killings at roadblocks, most passengers are afraid of using mobile phones to capture police bribery scenes or challenge hidden actions. The police too most of the time pulls the drive too far away for passengers’ phone camera to capture.

So what do we do? Only an officially appointed spy could be bold enough to capture such scenes, which is what I recommend. Set up an independent police monitoring unit, composing of plain-cloth spies, from among serving or retired military officers or wherever. Assign them to search out what the police are doing, institute arrests or direct enforcement units to culprits’ locations, where they’ll be arrested and necessary penalties follow. I can assure you, as soon as few bad eggs are picked up, others will sit up. Why the solution will work is because every police officer on duty would not know who is who in a public transport in which a spy might be travelling.

Experimenting this will be like bringing back the Inspector General Adewusi’s policing strategy. I remember writing something similar almost two decades ago, I think in a print edition of Motoring World magazine, titled: The Adewusi Legacy. Recall how IG Adewusi did it. It worked then. My recommendation is a modified and upgraded version of Adewusi dose, which I strongly believe, will not only compliment the IG’s stopthebribes Platform but also help in curing the corruption malady in the nation’s system-corrupted police force.

 

 

 

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