How does creating an unsafe environment for media professionals speaks well about Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration as it relates to the continued reports of abuse of human rights? Law enforcement violence and excessive force especially.
What kind of global message is the administration’s law enforcement agencies sending with the continued acts of violence ranging from physical attacks, verbal assaults, death threats, and indiscriminate detention of journalists and citizens.
The latest one is the reported case of some personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps attached to the Federal Girls Government College, Owerri, who on Monday, reportedly brutalized the Imo State correspondent of PUNCH Newspapers, Chidiebube Okeoma.
Whether the journalist or any other Nigerian had a means of identification or not, why the pushing, slapping, beating, kicking, dragging, bundling and other forms of assault? For what purpose? How does it enhance the image of law enforcement under the Buhari government?
In the case of journalist Chidiebube Okeoma, he reportedly was to meet the principal of the Federal Girls Government College, Owerri, over a viral video where a senior student at the school was seen bullying a junior student. At the gate, NSCDC officers stopped him and others and on inquiry, they said that the principal was not around.
The journalist asked to see other school officials in a timely manner as the NSCDC wanted him to return next week. Apparently for persisting, “two armed NSCDC officers emerged and started beating me. One of them hit me with the butt of his rifle and my head was broken. While in a pool of blood, they dragged me barefoot to their command headquarters like a common criminal. While I was being dragged to their headquarters, one of the officers said I came to kidnap the students. He labelled me a member of the Eastern Security Network.” “At their command headquarters, I was interrogated by a senior officer and was later allowed to go. I immediately went to a hospital and was treated. I have gone to the Shall Camp Police Division to make a statement.”
The reporter, in attempt to make a case went to the police. The state Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Hussaini, reportedly showed him sympathy but said only the “NSCDC could redress the wrong.” In fact, why should the abused even go to the police when the NSCDC plays the same roles, except this is a sign of tensions or wahala between the Police and NSCDC.
The Nigerian environment should not be consumed with violence, and harassment of journalists, and other citizens or visitors.
At the time of this writing, the officers involved in this incident under normal circumstances should be under immediate suspension or temporarily relieved of duty. Followed by an investigation of the reported misconduct and assault especially around a school full of children.
The continued occurrences of law enforcement violence and brutality reflect issues of leadership and poor psychological health of officers. There is need for officers in law enforcement and the military to learn not to continuously resort to deadly force or other forms of brutality when it isn’t necessary. If this bad behavior is to change, under the new leadership of Dr Ahmed Audi, professionalization of the NSCDC must take place fully.
Let us find a way to reduce this entrenched problem in Nigeria. More generally, the Buhari regime, should not allow law enforcement violence against the media and citizens to become its hallmark before the world. There is a price to that always.
John Egbeazien Oshodi who was born in Uromi, Edo State in Nigeria, is an American based Police/Prison Scientist and Forensic/Clinical/Legal Psychologist. A government Consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult/child psychological services in the USA; Chief Educator and Clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an Online Lifelong Center for Personal, Professional and Career Development. A former Interim Associate Dean/Assistant Professor at the Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African settings. In 2011, he introduced the State-of-the-Art Forensic Psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C and the Nasarawa State University where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. The Development Professor and International Liaison Consultant at the African University of Benin, and a Virtual Faculty at the ISCOM University, Benin of Republic. Founder of the Proposed Transatlantic Egbeazien University (TEU) of Values and Ethics, a digital project of Truth, Ethics, Openness. Author of over 40 academic publications/creations, at least 200 public opinion writeups on African issues, and various books.
John Egbeazien Oshodi wrote in via email@example.com