The memo reads:
The New Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer,
Lagos State Police command,
‘CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu.’
Take It Back Movement Lagos Chapter welcomes you as the newly appointed Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO). We wish to state categorically that your appointment should be handled as a service to millions of Lagosians who are employers of the Lagos State Government.
Having Said that, we all know policing in Lagos is a great task. Lagos is highly populated with rising case of insecurity in the streets and neigbourhoods. The question on the mind of Lagosians is, ‘Is it possible for the new PPRO to bring the desired change we need in Lagos State?’
Also, your predecessor who resumed September 2020 made his phone number available to the public just as you have done; it came in handy for Lagosians when they had issues with the police, but the PPRO must find a way to connect deeply than that.
Over the years, the Lagos State Police have not been able to form a strong relationship with the public it serves, all they have done is to input fear into the people. Not only that, systematic corruption, using of lethal force wrongly, extra judicial killings, extortions, illegal arrest and detention, illegal raiding and much more. All these make the public to continue to detest the police and in-turn reduce the chances of the police to solve real crimes. The Lagos State Police Command cannot succeed in its fight against crimes and criminality in the state as long as they keep going after innocent citizens instead of criminals on the streets and in public offices.
Recent cases of torture include the following: the case of Tunde Abass, who was arrested at Onipanu for filming a scene where policemen from Onipanu division were carrying out illegal arrest and harassment. He was in prison for days, beaten and tortured. Thanks to agitations from Nigerians, Abass was immediately released.
Another one happened in Ikorodu where a young man was arrested for no reason at all, he was tortured, moved to SCID Panti where he died in police custody. Eji died for no reason, the most terrible part of the story is the police denied his family the opportunity of seeing him and treating him while he was still alive. Also, the case of Oyeleke Jumoke that was killed by a stray bullet from the police at Yoruba Nation protest in July. We have not gotten justice for that yet. There are many more terrible events of the Lagos State Police command violating the rights of citizens and getting away with it.
We haven’t forgotten how during the endSARS protests, hundreds of young people became victims of bloodlust and use of lethal force by police officers. Scores of others were arrested on the streets and imprisoned with no reason. People like Seyi Awogbola has been in detention since October 21, 2020. This is a young man that was just raided on the street. And there are many others like him languishing in illegal detention, under torturous conditions.
This must stop; we desire a policing system that works within the ambit of the law with full respect for citizen’s right. Importantly, Police are meant to detect and prevent crimes and protect lives and property. But in Lagos, the reverse is the case. Actually, some of them are committing crimes against the people. As for protection, only the rich and the influencial get it. The masses are deprived of their rights.
The police system is a necessity but there is a need for reformation so as to serve the people properly and not further the endangerment of people at the expense of protecting them. Lagosians see the police as an instrument of the government to unleash terror at the slightest opportunity. The taskforce carries out illegal activities such as: raiding the markets and violating the rights of taxi and Danfo drivers. All these must stop. The police gets very little or zero cooperation from the public to aid their work. The communication gap between the police and the public continues to grow wider everyday.
Lots of crimes, murders and robbery have not been solved because Lagosians with information on the case would never come forward due to their hatred for the police force. You cannot expect a family or community that has experienced trauma as a result of the actions of the police to give credible information on any case. In some of the most unfortunate scenarios, criminals In fact, get more cooperation from the public than the police.
The police cannot do any real police work without good relationship with the community they are meant to serve. But it seems some of the men in the police force are not even interested in solving those crimes. Neither are they interested in their public image. And that can only change when the policing system is re-oriented to serve the people and not the rich and privileged few in positions of power.
The Lagos State Police command needs to be reformed and their welfare in terms of payment and incentive should be looked into.
When the perception of the people about the police changes, the police would enjoy maximum cooperation from the public, which would enable them to carry out their function on crime prevention, apprehension of criminals and maintaining a peaceful society.
In a society, where peaceful protesters are seen as criminals while criminals are treated as VIP’s, crime would continue to flourish.
The Lagos State Police command needs to reorganize their activities in Lagos. Peaceful protesters should be protected and their rights, respected. Police officers should be taught on how to handle peaceful protest, because the protest would never stop, even after we have gotten a better Nigeria.
Until the renumeration of the police are looked into and their welfare properly taken care of, the Lagos State Police command will continue to serve the highest bidder or the deepest pocket before they think of an average Lagosian. The tendency to get rich quick would continue to cause illegal raiding and unfairness to the public.
Even though our country is in a terrible economic, political and social state, the police force can still maintain peace and respect human and civil rights of her citizens.
Brutalizing of citizens, corruption, unfairness in dealing with suspects, use of force, bullying of citizens, abuse of citizens right with impunity, extra judicial killings, aiding and abetting criminal activities and much more must stop in Lagos and in Nigeria.
Lagos State is the center piece of every action. Once the police force in Lagos gets better, most state would follow suit. Police should stop being snipers but learn to stop snipers in Nigeria.
Once again, we welcome you into the new appointment as Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Police command.