As Nigeria has continued to cascade into troubling insecurity, a familiar theme of the terse talks of tense security personnel is that active collaboration between Nigerians and their security personnel is key to confront a monster that has been quick to show that it is as invasive as it is invidious.
As the whirlwinds of insecurity have surged across Nigeria, rising from the North West to North East regions, and sweeping across the entire country, indubitable evidence has emerged from time to time that among Nigerians are those who offer active collaboration and cooperation to those who have reduced many Nigerian communities to dust and heaps of cold ashes.
As Nigeria`s response to the existential threat posed by terrorism has veered between the trenchant and the tepid, saboteurs, informants and messengers have all lined up by the tables of the terrorists to pick up crumbs because they have no compunction whatsoever about spending blood money.
Each time terrorists have struck anywhere in Nigeria, questions have flown freely: Was there prior information? If there was, what was done? Could they have had informants? The bandits who have recently redefined terrorism in Nigeria have shown that what they run are well-oiled and well-coordinated operations where the logistics of terror embrace many who are forced to play middlemen because of their cowardice.
To answer the questions posed by insecurity, there is always the admonition and even appeal from Nigeria`s security forces for Nigerians to provide information. It is what it should be.
Experience has shown that whenever and wherever crime was beaten back, it was as a result of the joint efforts of all those affected. However, in Nigeria, historical tension between civilians and security forces has never failed to complicate this fight.
For many Nigerians, the phrase ‘the police is your friend’ is up there with everything that is contradictory about Nigeria. Indeed, when in October 2020 unprecedented protests shook the foundations of the country, roaring through Nigeria`s major cities, at the heart of the protests which turned bloody was a cry against the perceived heavy-handedness of a rogue unit within the Nigerian police force. But it was essentially a protest against the police as whole, and against the Nigerian elite perceived to be behind most of the problems convulsing the country.
Before the protests and since the protests ended, relations between Nigerians and the police have been frosty during the best of times. There is sure something to be said in favour of the men and women who are tasked with the unenviable duty of maintaining law and order in a society riddled with crime. However, there is justification for the belief that the police in Nigeria have in their ranks men who should have no business there; men who because they lack any iota of professionalism and are ruthlessly corrupt should have no business there.
However, it remains lamentable that some who men have no iota of respect for the law they should enforce continue to make up the rank of security agencies like the Nigeria Police Force. The result is a relationship that has become more of a burden than a benefit.
As if to court more controversy, the Force Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Police, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, was recently reported to have said that no Nigerian has the right to confront policemen or retaliate even if the policeman slaps them.
The Force PRO who made his position known through his twitter account, rather advised that anyone at the receiving end of such a treatment should consider filing a complaint.
Unsurprising, the advice has generated heated debates among Nigerians with many forced to recall the painful run-ins they had with the police on numerous occasions.
While there is every need to protect the bodily integrity of those who enforce law and order in a country as lawless as Nigeria, there is a need for restraint. In a country where insecurity and poverty so often cause tension to boil over so easily, Adejobi may rather reserve his advice for men like him who staff Nigeria`s security forces to behave more professionally and courteously when dealing with Nigerians.
That such ill-timed tweets are rather becoming the trademarks of those who occupy sensitive offices in Nigeria bespeaks an unhelpful mentality firmly in place somewhere.
Perhaps, they may want a rethink especially if Nigeria is ever to get it right.
Kene Obiezu, Twitter: @kenobiezu