The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is really concerned that its officers don’t have a monopoly on violence.
The police have recently recorded three cases of assault against its officers within five days, in Lagos alone. After decades of brutalising Nigerians, some of them are starting to fight back:
The trend of Nigerians assaulting police officers is frightening enough that even the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, addressed it in a statement.
While Nigerians fighting back against police officers is a manifestation of the culture of distrust they have with the public, it’s not the best conflict-resolution strategy for civilians. Because this could happen:
More than the risk of dying, assaulting a police officer is likely to get a civilian in trouble regardless of the officer’s provocative conduct. It’s a felony that could land a convicted person in prison for three years.
“I should have just said, ‘Do you know who I am?’ 20 times”
What can you do instead?
Remember to never cut the red wire
Distrust for the police force means Nigerians expect officers to move mad at any point during a regular encounter. Interactions between Nigerian police officers and civilians these days can get confrontational and violent in the blink of an eye.
Especially if you don’t have anything for the boys
It’s in your best interest as a civilian to get through this encounter without resorting to blows or anything that lands you in prison. The most important thing you can do is remain calm. The police officer should be committed to this kind of attitude too, but that’s not always the case. When they don’t reciprocate your calmness, what’s the best way to handle it?
Don’t resist arrest
Police officers have a certain level of “reasonable force” they can apply to a situation in which a suspect is resisting arrest. If you react violently to provocation, it can give them justification to keep assaulting you.
It’s important to remain calm and not lash out so they can’t build an unfair case against you. They know the kind of trouble you can get into and are happy to exploit it. Comply with instructions even in the face of provocation. You can raise alarm for the awareness of people in the area, but don’t resist arrest.
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When a police officer assaults you, the best immediate course of action is to gather as much evidence of the assault.
Remember crucial details for documentation, do a video recording of the incident with your phone, if possible, or if it happened in public, urge others to record it.
It’s also important to record the officer’s name and identification number if possible.
That’s how this guy lost his job
Visit a doctor
No, not this one
If you sustain injuries in the course of the assault, it’s advisable to visit a doctor for treatment and get a report that’ll serve as medical evidence for your case against the offending police officer.
Find a lawyer
There are cases when you can deal with a violent police encounter without needing legal counsel, but it’s advisable to get one just in case things get complicated.
When you’ve gathered all the evidence you need to build your case, file a complaint with the police force’s Complaint Response Unit (CRU). The force created the unit in 2015 to process complaints from members of the public and provide feedback on actions taken on such complaints.
You can contact them through one of these options:
You can also forward your complaints to the public relations officers of state commands on social media or their mobile phone numbers.
As long as your life isn’t in immediate danger, beating a police officer is a very bad idea. Take the high road, please.
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