Following recent directives by the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, warning police officers against use of Force on protesters, a Security Expert, Mr.Ruben Maduako, has opined that in view of injuries and casualties recorded by police operatives, that he does not envy or admire the duties of operational police officers anymore, adding that the on going #EndSARS protest appears not to be the best of times for policing in the country.
According to him, Operational police officers, who are in the front line protecting protesters, are much exposed to the anger of the protesting youths and thus more endangered species. Indeed, some Analysts seems to agree with this projection, considering the number of injuries and casualties recorded in the police camp since the commencement of the protest.
In Lagos alone, one inspector Erinfolami Ayodeji , paid the supreme price , while many officers like Inspectors ; Ekei Joshua, Peter Agabi, sergeant Ellah Michael amongst others, sustained severe injuries .
At the last count, Area ‘J’ Commander and an Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP Olugbemi Gbolahan, was allegedly but deliberately ran down by a reckless protesing Driver, living him severely wounded with a broken leg , even as the Orile Police Division was reportedly invaded by heavily armed protesters. To cap it all, information making rounds, have it that over 50 suspects were alleged to have escaped from SARS detention facility, at the headquarters of the State Police Command, ikeja, after a cell break. Though the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, SP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, has debunked the rumours, tagging it as’ mischievous news’.
Despite these life threatening challenges and attacks on policemen, the IGP warned police officers against retaliation or use of force even in the face of ongoing violence targeted at the police, said to have been orchestrated by some hoodlums that have infiltrated and hijacked the hitherto peaceful demonstration across the country. For some safety reasons now, many police officers are of the opinion that It has become risky to be dressed up in police uniforms while driving or walking along the road, as they risked being attacked.
It is in the light of the foregoing, that some residents who witnessed the rare bravery exhibited by CSP Taiwo Kasumu, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO Igando, in calming and taming the agitating mammoth crowd of hoodlums and protesting students from the Lagos State University, LASU, has been adjudged exemplary and commendable. He was said to have braced all odds and diplomatically confronted the raging and near riotous Crowd of protesting LASU Students, who thronged and besieged his Division and created the worst traffic gridlock chaos in the area.
According to a landlord and leader of CDA in the Akesan area , Chief Ezekiel Adeleye, ” we were initially afraid for the safety of the police officers, considering the near break down of law and order at one petrol Station Olonwunla bus stop , where the protesting students had altercation with some mobile police officers guarding the facility. “
In his words, Adeleye said, ” However, the unexpected emergence and behavior of the DPO, who immediately joined the students in the protest, disarmed the rowdy and uncontrollable crowd of demonstrators.” “Though, we noticed that they didn’t trust him initially due to the division among the various camps within the protesters, but his maturity in allowing them access to his patrol vehicle, his friendly disposition and words of support, tamed the students.
It was even funny the way and manners he joined them in their March and protest out of Igando. Advising Other DPOs, Chief Adeleye said this: “To be candid, other police officers should learn and emulate his examplary Anti protest tactics and mechanism “.
Our Correspondent who covered the Students protest last Saturday, October 10th, 2020, reported that the Protest Coordinator, Comrade Abuldukareem Arty, a 500 Level Law Student, Formerly, a Speaker and immediate past Legal Director, LASU Union, was full of praises for the intelligence and maturity exhibited by CSP Taiwo Kasumu. In an interview, Comrade Arty, gave the DPO Kasumu 99 percent pass mark in his handling of the protesters. ” The Igando DPO is a great man, a good leader and father, he was positive, addressing us on the need to shun violence and reminded us that the IGP has listened to our agitation and disbanded SARS.
Arty, who is also a presidential candidate of the National Association Of Nigerian Students, NANS, blamed the violent escalation of the protests witnessed in Lagos, on police personnel who he said lack proper orientation in addressing organized peaceful protests. On the intentions of the ongoing protest, he said, “our intentions are always clear and noble but the inability of controlling those that join the protest, is always the cause of violence. ” I am against violent protests.
Despite the violence, we are still on this same course in as much as we are running for the same goal. While Advocating ‘ DPO Igando’s model of Protest management ‘, the Student Leader, insisted that police personnel should be given periodic orientation on crisis management in a democracy. “There is also need for police to manage crisis, especially when agitators are coming with anger”. It would be recalled that IGP Adamu, had warned Police Officers across the country against the use of force on peaceful protesters. He noted that citizens have fundamental rights of freedom of expression, assembly and movement which must always be upheld and protected by the police.
He however appealed to protesters to continually conduct themselves peacefully and guide their ranks against infiltration by criminal elements.
The Police Chief stressed that the Force leadership has clearly heard the voice of the people and is irrevocably committed to doing everything within its powers to address the observed ills, punish any offending officers and promote a people-friendly police force.