By Abdullah Abdulganiy
First, an aside: You are welcome to ISSUES. A platform where I shall be interrogating public issues on a weekly basis. All in a bid to get a better Nigeria and share my perspectives on unfolding developments. Feedbacks and commentaries are highly entertained. This is the debut, and I hope to educate many, give voice to the voiceless and right the wrongs in society through it.
So, help me God!
Straight to business
You must have also come across it. A video circulating on the social media, of a police officer who identified himself rather boisterously as Wyclef (whatever that means) interrogating, nay dehumanizing two suspected robbers. He is, simply put, a poster boy for overzealousness in the Nigerian public service. He is also a metaphor for unprofessionalism within the ranks of force men, especially the police in Nigeria.
From the commissioner who teleguides fellow colleagues as if they were accountable to him/her, to the old men at various local government secretariats, who are quick to welcome any visitor intending to meet an ‘oga’ with their emblem of ‘won si la’rand’, even when in his office doing nothing, to the nurses who rain abuses on patients in the hospital for simple mistakes, through the teachers who harass female Muslim students for wearing the Hijab, Nigeria has a fair share of officious persons dotting public offices.
Officer Wyclef did a great job that should ordinarily earn him an applause and laurels if possible, but soon rubbished it with his showmanship and unprofessionalism. From the short video clip, it could be deduced that he had successfully apprehended a long-wanted culprit. It is no mean feat, especially in a system where such persons go scot free.
However, his insatiable crave for public stunts was his undoing. He not only dehumanized the suspects in the viral video, but also demonstrated pettiness at its best. He asked silly questions that are not related to the alleged offence, and also gave himself out as one randy police officer who profits from people’s weaknesses.
That Wyclef video-recorded himself in such a shameful scenario, and boasted of sharing it to the public domain is foolhardy of him. It shows that he’s either untrained or untrainable. For crying out loud, is that how Wyclef was taught to parade suspects? Harass them, force words into their mouths and threaten them?
To be frank, Wyclef appears to be the portrait of the Nigerian police. He was just unfortunate that what he thinks would give him fame turned against him. That’s how an average police officer conducts himself in relating with the public, except few exceptional ones. Majority of police officers demonstrate crass irresponsibility in the course of their duty.
They run after supposed Yahoo boys as if aggressive to end the menace of internet fraud, only to dubiously dispossess them of their monies and valuables. The media is awash with such heartrending stories. Students have complained over time of the overzealousness and highhandedness of SARS officials. I, personally, have a friend who was treated to this disgusting daylight robbery by some police officers.
Should we talk of lives that have been callously exterminated extrajudicially by overzealous men of the Police Force? This takes us to the question of whether the charlatans parading themselves as ‘friends of the people’ pass through any professional training and psychological test.
The recruitment process into the Nigerian Police Force is so shoddy that the profession has been reduced to an all-comer affair. The same could be said of other government agencies. Merit does not count again, as it has taken flight for cronyism and nepotism. The results are what we are seeing in virtually all sectors of government today.
Police officers in Nigeria have always been in the news for notorious reasons. These are people expected to live above board due to the nature of their job. They are supposed to be diligent, intelligent, tactful and professional in carrying out their duties. In any case, a suspect is still deemed innocent until proven in the law court to be otherwise. This is elementary law.
Sadly however, Wyclef as a law enforcer demonstrated ignorance of the law when he already convicted, tried and adjudged persons who are still suspects to be criminal all in the name of acquiring cheap popularity on social media. His use of vulgar languages is another thing many observers are yet to reconcile with.
This irritating overzealousness and unprofessionalism in public service, especially amongst the police must stop. It is not enough that the Force declared that the officers connected to the ugly incident have been arrested. They should be brought to book earnestly, and the public should be aware of it. There should be no house arrangement this time around.
The reason this overzealousness and unprofessional conducts continue unabated is because most perpetrators go unquestioned and unpunished. By the way, what is the latest about the officer that callously murdered Tina? What of the Air Force guys that dehumanized a lady-doctor some months back. ‘We are on top of the matter,’ is the usual answer to these questions. That’s why more and more officers continue their unprofessional conducts.
While the suspects should not be freed, and be made to face conviction, Officer Wyclef should also pay for his reckless, unprofessional and overzealous (mis)conduct. This way, the menace of overzealousness in our public service could be tamed!