Police-brutality

If #BlackLivesMatter could go ahead to achieve much traction in the fight against social injustice, also the several cases of abuse of civilian citizens perpetrated by security operatives in Nigeria, and elsewhere, that have gone unprosecuted should spur us all to lend our voices to the call that #CivilianLivesMatter.


By nature we are all civilians: nobody was born a soldier or a police officer or paramilitary official. But, as we grow to choose careers, influenced either by passion for public service or the drive to earn a living, some become state security force men of one hue or the other.

And by virtue of their important responsibilities as state security agents, they are trained, armed, and empowered to discharge the state’s utmost responsibility – the security of lives and property of other citizens and the defence of territorial integrity, while other citizens are compelled by the law to respect, obey and willingly cooperate with them.

Notwithstanding the fact that the law demands these of civilian citizens in relation to state security agents, yet they ought not to be relegated to become subservient citizens, who could be treated as animals or slaves by these agents. All military and para-military authorities derive their existence and duties from the law, which comes from the representative decision of citizens.

Unfortunately, some Nigerian security officials regard themselves as tin gods, subjecting civilians to inhuman treatment. And, if we are to go by what we occasionally experience, see, hear or read in the news about how men of some of the forces personalise the power of their offices to harass, extort, intimidate and recklessly assault civilians, it would not be bad to say that some these security operatives, who are supposed to be protectors, have morphed into predators.

In 2014, it was Sunday Amari, the young man who was terribly shellacked by some army cadets at Jabi Lake Park, Abuja. Amari seems to be the luckiest of the victims of the brutality of security operatives, as he still lives to recount his ordeal in the hands of bestial army cadets after the video of his torture went viral online.


While not trying to deride Nigerian security forces, my purpose is to call the attention of concerned authorities to the plight of civilians at the hands of power drunk, trigger-happy security operatives. There is no other better time than now, to inform concerned authorities that the lives of civilian citizens matter.

In 2005, some police officers, led by DCP Danjuma Ibrahim, killed six Apo traders while they were returning from a night party, claiming they were armed robbers. Sadly, Nigeria being the way we are, the killers of the Apo Six are yet to be brought to book eleven years after their victims were murdered. And only God knows how many persons have been killed and buried under the wicked lies of security operatives in this same manner.

Again, in a manner not quiet dissimilar to the Apo Six killings, in 2013, a combined team of soldiers and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) raided an uncompleted building in which some hapless tricycle – keke – riders were sleeping at the same Apo district of Abuja, killing eight of them and leaving others injured. In a bid to cover up and justify the obvious extra-judicial killing of defenseless citizens, the Apo eight victims were alleged to be armed Boko Haram suspects. However, a few months ago, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court dismissed the allegation and imposed a fine of $3.3 million on Nigeria for the extra-judicial killing of the Apo eight. The question of whether any of the security operatives involved in this extra-judicial killing has been prosecuted for this crime is, however, yet unanswered.

In 2014, it was Sunday Amari, the young man who was terribly shellacked by some army cadets at Jabi Lake Park, Abuja. Amari seems to be the luckiest of the victims of the brutality of security operatives, as he still lives to recount his ordeal in the hands of bestial army cadets after the video of his torture went viral online.

…an attempt to recount and chronicle all the cases of extra-judicial killings, extortion and reckless torture of civilians perpetrated by enthusiast killer security operatives in Nigeria would probably produce the longest article ever written in Nigerian history.


Then comes the case of Segun Enikuemehin, an official of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), whose eye was brutally gouged out in Lagos, because he dared to stop some military men who were assaulting a civilian to desist from such dastardly act, according to a report published in Sahararporters, just a few days ago. This is bad, and unfortunately, it might be swept under the carpet like several other cases of human rights abuses that have been reported in the media.

Of course, an attempt to recount and chronicle all the cases of extra-judicial killings, extortion and reckless torture of civilians perpetrated by enthusiast killer security operatives in Nigeria would probably produce the longest article ever written in Nigerian history. Sadly, most of such cases are forgotten without justice being served, while killers in uniforms whose salaries are paid from taxes of “bloody civilians” go after their next victim.

Black Lives Matter, a national organisation founded by the trio of Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza to fight anti-Black racism, created the #BlackLivesMatter protest in struggle against the highly unfair acquittal of George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old African American, in 2012. If #BlackLivesMatter could go ahead to achieve much traction in the fight against social injustice, also the several cases of abuse of civilian citizens perpetrated by security operatives in Nigeria, and elsewhere, that have gone unprosecuted should spur us all to lend our voices to the call that #CivilianLivesMatter.

Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja and can be reached through ahmedoluwasanjo@gmail.com. Twitter: @ahmedrazak3