If you’ve been in Nigeria long enough, you’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘Police is your friend,’ even though nothing in your actual life will corroborate this. Like seriously, when in trouble, you would literally get help from anywhere else except the Nigeria Police.
See, when my house was burgled, I really thought I could at least find out what the police could do about it. After all, they exist to fight crime, right? If only I had used my time for more productive endeavours. This is what happened: My house was broken into and even though I would normally not think to go to the police, I was advised to try to make a complaint to our law enforcing ‘friends.’ My plan was to obtain a search warrant to search the apartment of the neighbours I suspected were responsible.
This alone proved to be such a hassle!! First, there was such a needless delay, and absolutely no protocol. African time really is in full force in Nigerian institutions including the police. They took their sweet time and told me to come back a few times. I know the plan was to deter me and probably tire me out so that they wouldn’t have to do the job. But once I started, I wanted to see it through to the end. Statement after statement and being pushed around to different officers, I was finally asked to pay a sum of money to get some officers to search the place. The system was so slow and disorganized, and the entire process of obtaining a small search warrant took a complete week, so I just knew I had lost any chances of finding any of my belongings.
Actually, the police even had me search the place by myself while they just stood and watched. Even if my suspicions were right, the perpetrators had a full week gifted to them by the incompetent police, to get rid of all that has been stolen for me. So, of course, I didn’t find any items and I had to pay the police a sum for “transportation fare.”
I couldn’t help but wonder how very different this would have turned out in another country with a criminal justice system that works. I’m not saying there’s some magical wand other law enforcement officers wield to arrest suspects. But at least, the police would respond in minutes after an emergency call. They would probably find the perpetrator’s fingerprint which would be on basically every surface. (Okay my case was a low stake issue so they probably wouldn’t invest that much resources. Lol) Still, they would have at least done their jobs a little more enthusiastically.
Sadly, like every other failing system, many Nigerian youths have adapted very much to this skewed system. We run away from police instead of towards them for help, as they could pin crimes on innocent people and change the trajectory of other lives. We are more willing to help each other out, than the police to help us.
I know that this is just a rant, and that Nigerian youths tried to clamour for the reconstruction of our police system through the #EndSars movement. I also know how that ended, with the death of innocent citizens protesting for a better country. So yes, it’s a dire situation and there seems to be no actual institution that can help us in this fight. But that does not mean that you and I should ever stop talking about it. Like every bad friend, the Nigeria police should be called out. We might not march on the street, but we will always have the right to air our views. Even if we must do this using a VPN.