Friday, 28 November 2008
On......death and the Nigerian policeman
The average Nigerian is terrified of death. Well, who isn’t right? But Nigerians are especially scared about the prospect of packing their bags and jetting off to the land of their demise. Take the police for example.
I was covering a bank robbery in Lekki a few days ago and the Mobile police force atypically made it to the crime scene before the robbers had completely scarpered with the loot. However, when they did arrive, they were so reticent in exchanging gunfire that all but one of them took cover in a nearby uncompleted building. Only one aged, dedicated cop had the balls to engage in a shootout with three of the armed robbers. His pleas to his cowardly colleagues, audible in spite of the staccato pummelling of the gunshots, were the saddest footnote in on overall distasteful affair. “Assist me,” he cried. “We fit take them, we plenty pass them”. The valiant enforcers of the law, protectors of the civil populace, cowered in their hiding place until the gunshots had died down and the armed gang had comfortably escaped.
I waited and waited but no ambulance came to treat the injured and pronounce the dead dead. The latter was obvious enough though; the lack of movement in a lifeless body, horrible in its stillness, is a dead giveaway. I saw no ballistics experts recovering bullets that had embedded themselves in the road, the cars and the perimeter fence that had surrounded the gunfight. There were no CCTV cameras to capture the faces of the brazen crooks who thought it impractical to bother wearing any sort of mask. The police interviewed no witnesses and dusted for no fingerprints. Blood was allowed to congeal and no samples were rushed to a forensics lab. There were no helicopters combing the area. I saw a few guys trying hard to look inquisitive and serious. They were either detectives or constipation sufferers. The only thing the police did of any note was to look exceptionally befuddled by the whole thing.
You should see the vigour with which our policemen hound commercial vehicles. If one tenth of that enthusiasm was reserved for confronting criminals then our society would be virtually crime free. Instead of nurturing their talents, they nurture their potbellies. They fear death like zombies fear life. Look to the west and think of the countless law enforcers that sacrifice their lives each day in the name of the fundamental ethos of their profession: to protect and to serve. In Nigeria, they have an ethos too - to pickpocket and to steal. A motto which they are quite prepared to die for.