Time for Police, Others, to Really Reclaim Public Space

Recently, the Anambra State Police Chief, John Abang, announced the readiness of the State Police Command to effect the directive of the country’s Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, for the police, nationwide, to reclaim the public space in the aftermath of the wanton violence, killings, looting and destruction of public and private property by hoodlums who hijacked the “END SARS” protests and unleashed mayhem on law abiding citizens.

The Anambra State Police Command said it would collaborate with other security agencies in the state to embark on intensive joint patrol on all nooks and crannies of the state in order to reclaim the public space from criminal elements masquerading as protesters to ensure peace and safety in the affected areas.

The Anambra CP’s directive followed a joint security management meeting with heads of other sister security agencies, who he said, resolved to deal decisively with all acts of lawlessness, disruption of public peace and order wanton violence which had resulted in indiscriminate looting, damage of property and loss of lives in some parts of the state.

He had warned that any breach of law and order would no longer be condoned as all legitimate means would be applied to halt further acts of lawlessness.

It is now two weeks after the pronouncement and we dare say that nothing very tangible has been seen from the security agencies in the state in the face of rising criminality and near total absence of law and order on the roads.

Although the State Police Command recently paraded some suspected looters and criminals, the police and other security agents have become rare sights on our roads. The absence of the police has triggered a rise in crime as criminal elements have seized the opportunity to make life difficult for the law abiding citizens. Just last week, a female lecturer, a professor, at the state university, was kidnapped somewhere in Nawgu, Dunukofia LGA. Although she was rescued a day after, that incident showed why security agencies should quickly return to the roads.

While it is true that many of them had a raw deal in the hands of the protesters, losing their lives and several police property and stations destroyed, it is still no reason for the police and other sister agencies to abandon their duty posts and either flee or stay aloof. A society where law enforcement agencies abscond from duty because of the actions of hoodlums will not function well.

Like the police, the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, has equally withdrawn their personnel from the roads,  just like the office of the state’s road traffic agency. The result is that serious breaches of traffic regulations are being recorded in many parts of the state as many motorists often refuse to obey the traffic lights.

Just some days ago, motorists plying the Amawbia Bypass were stuck in traffic for over three hours after some other motorists refused to obey the traffic lights at the old road intersection. The absence of traffic officials only worsened an already bad situation. Similar situations are experienced in parts of the commercial city of Onitsha and environs.

We feel it is time the various agencies returned to their duty posts, especially after the police had assured that they would reclaim the public space.

It will be dangerous if criminals and some other law breakers are allowed to believe that they have overwhelmed the law enforcement agencies. While government is urged to speed up efforts to better protect and remunerate security agencies, they should not wait till that time but should speedily reclaim their space. It is for the public good as their own good too. Their continued absence or skeletal presence is no longer funny. Society needs them back and better and quickly too.

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