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The police assault on the Smith couple

Published by Tribune on Wed, 31 Dec 2014


The impunity and brutality of the Nigeria police were displayed again in a recent outrage when a police corporal attached to the Lekki area, in Lagos, Corporal Dada Ogunsanya, allegedly attacked and tortured a couple Mr and Mrs Ejeh and Grace Smith. The brutality, obviously in epic proportions, had caused such visible bodily harm to the couple that could eventually lead to the loss of a pregnancy.At the end of the encounter, the couple's faces were redesigned by Corporal Ogunsanya using both his fists and the butt of his gun as their eyes were puffed and bloodied. Ogunsanya had also allegedly trampled upon Mrs Grace Smith and a routine check in the hospital during a haemorrhaging after the encounter revealed the possibility of having lost her baby due to the manhandling which she suffered at the hands of the brute in uniform.According to media reports, the cab conveying the Smiths had been stopped by the corporal at the Lekki area. With the inner lights of the cab on, Ogunsanya's beaming torch had aggravated the couple who thought it was unnecessary. Their complaint had enraged the corporal and an altercation between the couple and the corporal allegedly grew into assault and then battery.When a passerby who witnessed the attack insisted that the DPO's attention be sought, it was also alleged that the DPO, Aisha Haruna, had backed the brutal corporal's action and deleted Grace Smith's recording of the incident. The report had drawn the ire of the public and the Inspector General had ordered an investigation upon which an orderly room trial in the tradition of the force had commenced.Nigerians may have been accustomed to a brutal, rude and discourteous police after series of abuses too frequent to recall over the years, yet the public outrage which the brutalisation of the Smiths drew is underscored by the irony that the civilian population is being so lavishly victimised despite being in a democratic dispensation on a regular basis.The police, it would seem, have yet to shed its colonial garb of a security force established to oppress and pacify a disagreeable civilian population who were subjects to a British authority, even after 54 years of independence. Nigerians are yet to transform into respectable citizens with inalienable human rights and dignity in the eyes of the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force.As just simple commuters in a cab, it is difficult to fathom what could have prompted the violence and brutality to which the Smiths were subjected, except to validate the description which the media eventually offered him; power drunk cop! How much power does a corporal wield except against unarmed civilians' What would the corporal have done if he was more elevated' Does Ogunsanya represent the average policeman in his mentality'It seems the men of the police force would rather bully than protect citizens except if they are well-heeled and daily these citizens are harassed by the police in uniform which elicits fear first, instead of trust from the people. How many citizens, similarly circumstanced as the Smiths, have had to suffer the pains inflicted by police brutality privately without the luxury of having their stories told in the media'Obviously, without the sustained persistent media blitz the outrage committed by the corporal may have been shushed as the DPO, Aisha Haruna, allegedly deleted the recording by Mrs Smith of the incident. Elsewhere, the citizens of a country are expected to be protected courteously by the police. Even arrests are made without breaking the code of courtesy.The reality in Nigeria is sadly a sharp contrast. It is incredible that the police that are expected to protect the citizens ironically offer the worst abuses of the inalienable and fundamental human rights in their torture chambers of citizens that are sometimes innocent of the charges brought against them.The case of the Smiths offers an opportunity for the police to correct itself and it is heartening to note that it has started with the interest which the Inspector General has demonstrated in it by ordering a full investigation. The eventual reining in of the entire brutal squad involved in the outrage was a good starting point because nothing can be more gratifying than to see those involved in the outrage being handed the required treatment.Not only will it deter the rest brutes in the force, it will possibly mark the dawn of a new era in the entire beleaguered force.
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