Inside Story: How Plainclothes Policemen Wounded, Abandoned a Commercial Motorcyclist in Kubwa, Abuja

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Inside Story: How Plainclothes Policemen Wounded, Abandoned a Commercial Motorcyclist in Kubwa, Abuja
Nwolu Obiajulu

At a time when thousands of youths have taken to the streets to protest police brutality and alleged extrajudicial killings of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), it appears the infamous unit does not have autonomy of dishing out violence to the citizens it ought to protect.

African News Today  has gathered a story of how men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), in plainclothes, chased a commercial motorcyclist popularly known as “okada” into a life-threatening road accident that led to severe injuries in Shelter Farm Byazhin, Kubwa, a suburb in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, last week.

The FCT administration had announced a ban on okada in Kubwa area due to alleged reckless driving and reported cases of some heinous activities allegedly perpetrated by okada riders in the area. The ban had led to the introduction of tricycles, widely known as “Keke napep”.

However, the number of tricycles operating in the area has been grossly inadequate to meet the transportation needs of residents. The situation is also worsened by the fact that the tricycles avoid some deplorable routes in Kubwa, among which is Shelter Farm- the location of the police brutality. Residents of Shelter Farm and others alike with untarred roads occasioned by decades of neglect by successive administrations in the FCT, have been faced with untold hardship moving to and from their homes, to work. Most times, residents who do not own cars are left stranded and would have to walk a reasonable stressful distance to a popular junction before accessing tricycles which are only available from the junction due to the nature of the road.

Residents who spoke to our reporter, said that the undesirable nature of the road and the neglect of the area by tricycle riders necessitate alternative means of transportation. Their condition is made worse when trying to get home at night. At such periods, it becomes a herculean task to access tricycles.

The mobility challenge had left them with little choice but to utilise commercial nmotorcycle riders who had been banned from the main roads. The few commercial motorcycle riders on ground ferry residents close to tarred roads thereby ameliorating the stress of walking the distance.

However, the peculiar nature of the terrain notwithstanding, policemen incessantly raid the area with unofficial vehicles and kitted in casual dress, arresting the okada riders seeking to earn an honest living after being taken out of job without arrangement for alternative source of livelihood. Asides fending for survival, these okada riders are ameliorating the plight of residents of the area who face a herculean task commuting to work.

African News Today gathered that last week, a commercial motorcyclist conveying a passenger was accosted by operatives of the force who were operating in unofficial wears, driving in a black gulf along the deplorable route of Leisure Palace hotel, Shelter farm. In a bid to evade the police vehicle which barricaded the road, the okada was plunged into a deep pothole, and was left motionless for a couple of minutes, prompting  the two policemen who were on hand to arrest him to exclaim, “E don die?” (He is dead).

After much effort to resuscitate the bike man, it was discovered that he suffered a severe injury to the right arm with bruises over his body.

Operatives of the police threatened to arrest and detain our reporter who queried why they would deploy such force and crude means to arrest a citizen who was only trying to irk a living. The men of the police were only restrained when they found out that our reporter is a journalist.

Alarm raised by onlookers prompted the police to undertake taking the injured man to a nearby hospital to receive medical treatment. Investigation by our reporter afterwards revealed that the young man was thrown out from the car en route the hospital by the officers who were perhaps on clandestine operation.

Police authorities in Kubwa claim that officers are authorized to operate in plainclothes just like operatives of the disbanded SARS. They equally claimed the bikes seized are taken to the Vehicle Inspection Office in Mabubushi once they are brought to the station but added that bike men were at liberty to negotiate a release sum for their bike.

The nonchalant attitude of the policemen does not just highlight the misdeeds of a few errant policemen but serves as a testament to police brutality to citizens whom they are charged by law to protect. Proponents of retainment of members of the defunct SARS unit opine that it would be inhuman to dismiss the officers from the force. However, such questions do not suffice when government deprive poor masses their sources of income without adequate provision of alternative means of survival. For a government that is culpable for neglect of provision of basic amenity such as roads and failure to create jobs for its teeming population, to order a ban of commercial motorcycles, oozes of ineptitude and nonchalant demeanor.  Kubwa being one of the fastest growing villages in the FCT and given its dense population deserve more developmental strides than currently being afforded by the government.

This is also a call to the FCT administration to, as a matter of urgency, award the construction of the Shelter Farm road to make it accessible for motorists and tricycles alike. Without fixing the roads, there should be a temporary order permitting the operation of okada within the premises to permit for ease of movement of residents pending the construction of the road. It is equally of importance that police authority educate its operatives on how best to effect arrest of unarmed citizens with minimal force to prevent scenarios such as this, whereby severe injury is suffered by a harmless civilian in the course of his arrest.

Part of efforts to reform the force should include training and retraining of officers on rules of engagement to prevent harming the very set of citizens it ought to protect. Acts such as youth oppression and ban on livelihood without proper planning inform the current protest and agitation which the country is currently battling. At the root of the demonstration lies an agitation for a Nigeria where rights of citizens are respected, amenities are evenly and equitably distributed, people can move around without fear of harassment, where quality healthcare will be easily accessible and affordable.

 

 

 

 

This post was written by Nwolu Obiajulu.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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