On August 30th, 2022, two men and two women appeared at the Magistrate Court in Ogba, Lagos State. Moments later, the magistrate remanded all four of them at the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional facility until the next hearing on October 10th, 2022.

The four had walked their way into troubled waters through a physical encounter with police officers during a car stop. It’s still unclear what provoked the altercation, but both men were caught on camera in a shoving match with the officers. The encounter led to this viral video posted online on August 27th, 2022:

Just a day before the video, another one that also involved a civilian and police officer made its way online on August 26th. In the video, a motorist accused of driving against one-way traffic dragged an armed police officer by his pants and resisted arrest.

And today, September 2nd, 2022, the spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, Ben Hundeyin, announced the arrest of Nigerian rapper, Ice Prince Zamani. He accused the celebrity of abducting and assaulting a police officer during a midnight car stop.

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Police vs Nigerians

The three incidents that took place within days of one another are a reflection of the long-standing hostility between the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Nigerian public. This troubled relationship came to a head with the #EndSARS protests of 2020, and its painful conclusion

has done nothing to ease it.

Despite claims of reforms, the atrocities like police brutality and extortion that sparked the historic #EndSARS protests remain. You can draw a line from this aggression to cases of civilians fighting fire with fists. 

The Inspector-General Wants Nigerians to Stop Beating Up Police Officers

But the NPF is failing to be reflective enough about the situation.

A disturbing trend

On August 29th, 2022, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, “strongly condemned” the trend of assaults on his police officers across Nigeria. He stressed that such attacks are “illegal and an affront on the rule of law.”

Who knew?

The IGP ordered that anyone caught assaulting officers in the line of duty should face a swift trial to serve as a lesson to others. He said the trend of attacks must not be allowed to grow as it shows a disrespect for the fundamental rights of officers.

IGP’s notable omission

Something that stuck out in the IGP’s statement was the lack of a copious amount of self-reflection. Sure, physically attacking police officers isn’t a trend you want to spread because of its security implications, but the IGP failed to address a significant component of what may be causing it — the officers themselves.

In fact, in his statement, Baba said “preceding factors” shouldn’t matter when civilians attack police officers. But to say this is to ignore the messy relationship between the police force and the public and the part officers play in causing hostilities by intimidating and extorting Nigerians. 

The Inspector-General Wants Nigerians to Stop Beating Up Police Officers

The IGP’s statement was a missed opportunity to remind his officers that they too have a responsibility to respect the rights of Nigerians. That’s the kind of olive branch that’d mend fences and foster a healthy relationship between the police and law-abiding citizens.

The Inspector-General Wants Nigerians to Stop Beating Up Police Officers

Maybe that’s something police officers will learn when the Force finally launches its public relations school. Only subscribers of our Game of Votes newsletter would understand what we mean by that. And to also always be cool enough to have all the tea you need when it comes to Nigerian politics and governance, and how they affect citizens, you should subscribe now.

The Inspector-General Wants Nigerians to Stop Beating Up Police Officers

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