I read an article today about a 3 year old girl shot by the Nigerian police accidentally when trying to collect bribe and I instantly got annoyed. This Egunje thing from Naija police has gotten way out of hand. So because of N100 (or less), you start shooting recklessly and end up killing a 3-year old child. Why? This is not the first time, the police have recklessly shot at (and sometimes killed) random bus drivers, okada men, and innocent civilians in their bid to extort money. Sometimes in an attempt to cover up, they label the dead citizens as armed robbers trying to escape. When will this thing stop?
To most Nigerians including myself, it’s part of life – when u get to the check point before they even ask “Anything for boys?” you extend your hand out with N100, they hail you with “Oga sir”, “Well done sir/ma”, and you keep it moving. Now this is the case for those of us that can afford to spare N100 to avoid harassment and unnecessary delays. For the bus drivers, taxi drivers, market women, okada drivers, students (the non-balling ones), and other people that are struggling to make ends meet, dashing out N100 probably daily becomes annoying and seems like a bill to drive past that area everyday or even a bill to live.
Now granted, all the blame can’t go to the police officers on the street, and seeing that on average a policeman or policewoman makes N10,000 – N12,000 a month – which is a little over $80 -, it’s hard to convince a police officer to stop extorting without making sure that he/she gets paid enough to feed his/her family. However the use of deadly force to stop motorist who refuse to pay their “toll” is totally uncalled for and these police officers that commit such crimes should be charged with murder, as opposed to a mere dismissal from the police force. What kind of punishment is that for killing a 3 year old child? How can you even begin to explain that one? To add salt to the wound, most of the I-Gs, and head officers benefit from the extortion. The lower level police officers have to pay their dues to the higher ups. So the problem is more than just the police officers on the street. It’s almost like a chain of command type of business if u ask me. As Fela said in his song Overtake don Overtake Overtake, “Police station don turn to bank, I-G nah managing director.”
Late last year, the Inspector-General of Police ordered the dismantling of road blocks nationwide, but clearly that hasn’t happened. I wonder why. The police officers clearly ignored what the I-G had to say and of course like most laws in Naija, there was no enforcement of that ban. So today we have a dead 3 year old girl, Kaosarat Saliu, that would still be alive if not for the recklessness and corruption of our police force.