By Malachy Uzendu
Just last Monday, the Corps Marshal/CEO, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi, paid a courtesy call on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, at the Louis Edet House, Force Headquarters, Abuja. The crux of the visit border on the various abuses some Nigerians have persistently made of Road Traffic Regulations. In particular, the two helmsmen expressed worry that breaking of road traffic regulation is gradually transforming to an unfortunate culture among Nigerians, especially the well-to-do, and privileged others occupying top public offices.
They discussed how motorists literally transformed every road junction, especially in the cosmopolitan cities to illegal motor parks, how majority of motorist fragrantly beat traffic light, how privileged few persons drive against traffic without scruples and how even operative of security agencies, who are supposed to be the number one law keepers, violently break all known traffic regulation.
Oyeyemi was at the FHQ to plead with the IGP to support the FRSC to ensure that every Nigerian, not excluding the high and the mighty, keep to the rules and are apprehended anytime they break traffic regulation. The FRSC boss painted gory pictures of how especially privileged Nigerians, including uniform personnel, have led several people to their untimely death, due to reckless driving or outright abuse of their uniform. He also narrated the sordid activities of State Governors, Ministers, members of the State and National Assemblies and several influential Nigerians in keeping to the traffic regulation only in the breach.
At the end of the meeting, the IGP ordered immediate nationwide clampdown on illegal use of siren, revolving lights and spy number plates and impounding of vehicles with covered number plates. According to the IGP, all state Commissioners of Police (CPs) were given the matching orders to forthwith, impound all vehicles illegally using Spy number plates, sirens, revolving lights or covered number plates and ensure diligent prosecution of the offenders. He disclosed that in such practices are illegal and pose monumental security risks to the nation and its people.
The order by the IGP is the crux of this write-up. It is well-known fact that IGP Adamu is not the first IGP to make such pronouncement. He is not likely to be the last to issue such instructions. The point is: what do police officers do each time their IGP issues an instruction, especially one that bother on the life and well-being of every resident of Nigeria? From my personal observation, these officers simply have waved aside such instructions and are not known to have taken any sustained action to enforce the instructions of their IGP. The much we have observed is that senior police officers, whose duty as it were, is to enforce the IGP’s instructions, are the ones who facilitate breach of such instructions, either for pecuniary reasons, mischief or outright indiscipline.
For instance the IGP’s instructions banning road blocks along the nation’s highways, has been kept in the breach. They latch on the window provided by the IGP authorizing them to put emergency road blocks in place in extreme emergency, but the reality is that they mount road blocks indiscriminately, unabashedly. Across the country, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), police checkpoints serve the primary purpose to provide points for “roja”, as far as Nigerians are concerned. And it is so shameful that even primary school pupils pooh-pooh such disdainful act of officers who ordinarily should be role models.
Then, the issue of the IGP banning all forms of so-called Revenue Collectors along all federal highways. This instruction was never implemented even for one day, unfortunately. As at now, not only do we have preponderance of such illegality along our highways, but their number and mischief are increasing by the day. What is more disheartening is that we now have some other people who claim to be Agricultural Quarantine Services personnel, who now deploy armed men and are simply harassing motorists even when such motorists have nothing to do with agricultural goods. What about trailer drivers who convert road shoulders to motor park? Were the IGP’s instructions to clear them off the highways ever implemented? We can go on and on!
On the IGP’s ban of road blocks, what policemen did was to hire some ram-shackle youths who barricade the highways with heavy logs of wood provided by those policemen. These youths collect money from motorists and lock down the road and remove the logs on the instruction of the supervisory police officers upon satisfaction that the motorist has “provided the required dues”. Are we not indirectly grooming future criminals by this act?
As I read the latest IGP’s instructions, I sent an email to DCP Frank Mba, the Force Public Relations Officer. I had stated: “But the IGP’S instructions have been kept in the breach all these while. 1. Order against road blocks; 2. Order against blockage of federal highway by all sorts of so-called Revenue Officials; 3. Order against meddlesomeness on domestic and criminal issues by police officers (the last week’s Enugu WACOL brutality and destruction of property as typical example); 4. Etc. Expectedly, my brother Frank never responded expectedly.
The question arising from these unheeded instructions are: Does the IGP take delight in just dishing out instructions even though much are kept in the breach? Is it a matter of fulfilling all righteousness or commitment to performing official duty for the IGP to once in a while issue directives, often not making any impact? Is putting dead-on-arrival instructions part of the Police Training Module?
These questions are germane because policemen are supposed to enforce law and order. Therefore, why should they wait for a definite instruction from the IGP before they could clamp down on felons? I remember back in the 70s and 80s when the mere sighting of a policeman was enough deterrent to committing crimes. Nowadays, it is not the case. Unfortunately, law enforcement agents have been apprehended leading criminal gangs, supplying weapons to criminals or outrightly breaching Nigeria’s constitution unabashedly. As far as Nigerians are concerned, the IGP should do more than engage in mere rhetoric. People who violate IGP’s instructions are aware of the consequences of their actions, but are propelled to do so because they know that law enforcement agents have a price. Can the IGP put a lid to such? That’s the only his instructions would make the desired impact.