Security Agencies Should Protect; not Take Lives

Feb 21, 2019

Footage of the man shot by a Customs official recently

One of the problems prevalent in our country today is violence. From the activities of terrorists, to tribal, political, religious and even cult killings, as well as those by herdsmen, and irate mobs, we have seen a country torn by violence. These have indeed heated up the polity. It seems as if the people have turned against themselves in the general madness. The worst is that security agencies who should be checking all this have joined in the madness. If the army are not brutalizing and intimidating hapless citizens, the police are shooting and killing them. As Chinua Achebe would put it, mere anarchy is loosed upon the land and things have fallen apart.

Just last week, the social media had gone viral with the video clips of how a Customs officer shot and killed an innocent Nigerian during a purported argument over money. The slain Nigerian was believed to be one of the passengers in a bus carrying used clothing. According to the story, the Customs officers were demanding that the owners of the used clothing give them five thousand Naira. In the heat of the argument, one of the Customs officials stepped back and shot the deceased.

But a press statement from the Nigerian Customs, claimed that the victim, whom they described as their friend who used to run errands for them, was shot accidentally during a scuffle between the officials and the passengers. But a careful watching of the video showed that nothing of such happened as the officer who shot the deceased was seen stepping away from the scene of the argument before shooting.

Whatever the case, though, the act has been committed and one Nigerian had again been cut down in his prime. The question will however always be asked why our uniformed officers will always handle their weapons carelessly, callously and dangerously before civilians.

It will also be asked why they like intimidating civilians and humiliating them. This behavior had led to many deaths in the past which were often described as accidental discharge. Although some of the culprits had been made to face the wrath of the law, it had never been able to assuage for the lives snuffed out.

It is believed that the concerned agencies have not been very serious with punishing offenders; hence the recurring decimal of killing of civilians by security agencies. This is grossly unacceptable.

In view of the rising frequency of this ugly phenomenon, we believe that the concerned agencies and the Federal Government which controls them should come up with more stringent measures to put a halt to this phenomenon. Nothing equates with human life. But in this country, human life counts for nothing.

Security officials should see the citizenry as their friends and as human beings. Above all, they should remember that their major task is to protect them; not to kill them.

This latest case should not be swept under the carpet as it is wrong for armed officers to take people's lives just because they are in uniform. The earlier this problem is tackled with the force it deserves, the better for the citizens of this country.

The government should also consider organizing workshops for these officers from time to time to make them more aware of their duties and to promote better relationship with the public. Such a relationship will no doubt establish a good bond between them and society.



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