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The Police vs. the Media: A Bullying Gun and the Mighty Pen

By: Yaro Dangari
 Published October 19th, 2011

Frankly speaking one would have thought the massive enlightening and happenings going on across the globe with regard to the new information age should have been eye opening to our security agents, especially our scandalized Nigeria Police Force (NPF). But, unfortunately, this seems to have worsened the understanding and social conscience of our men in black. It is quite baffling and sometimes embarrassing when you hear the stories of our policemen still being used as puppet by some of our selfish politicians. Just like what happened last week, when the police hierarchy threw caution into thin air and shamelessly went bullying some patriotic journalists who were just doing their job for God and country.

The coming of the internet and the globalization of our today’s activities, especially our freedom of expression and freedom of opinion has not really sank properly into the minds of our police force, neither have they comprehended that no nation, no matter how much it tried, can suppress the freedom of speech of its citizenry. Yes! Sir, Mr. Policeman, the world is now bigger, broader and more information free than you still carry in your outdated modus operandi.

I wonder if the Nigerian Police Force thought it wise to comprehend that even if The Nation newspaper and its patriotic staff had not published that selfish letter attributed to our do or die Baba Ota, it would have definitely found its way to the internet and from there syndicated across the globe. And I am sure the force would not want to face the embarrassment of its futile efforts to arrest those enthusiastic internet posters and publishers on Facebook, 2go, Twitter, My Space, Nairaland, Sahara Reporters, and the many happy bloggers who would have been happy to blog the letter freely to the world to see. I doubt, if our police force understands the simple logic that they can no longer harass the Nigerian citizenry anyhow, while the eyes of the world are now staring at their naked impunity and sabi –sabi.

The Nigerian citizenry I am sure are more interested in how they arrest the security situation in the country than bulldozing their way into an intellectual setting and arresting few good men doing their job. The Nigerian taxpayers including the arrested journalists are paying their taxes for the police to effectively and boldly tackle the menace of the Boko Haram, their encumbrance, instead of bullying innocent press men, who are zealously exposing the selfish agendas of some of our failed leaders.

Have the police arrested those thieving politicians around us, siphoning our money and under developing our country? What have they done about the daily deadly robberies across our roads, towns and villages and the invasion of our land by illegal aliens, who have taken over our economic activities and are fast scheming into our social and political lives? Have the police and its highest chain of command sat down and prudently tackled the problems bedeviling the force and the shameful condition of some of its personnel and their families across the many dilapidated police barracks across the country? Instead of arresting this embarrassing menace and patriotically ensuring that those corrupt leaders who over the decades have stolen their right to proper living, training and sensible enumeration are arrested and jailed for longer years, the police are going after innocent pen men who are justifiably fighting a cause that one way or the other affects them.

What have our bullying police force done about arresting corruption in virtually all corners of our country and the numerous fraudulent activities of some public servants we hear and witness every day. Who among the notorious Nigerian oil cabal have the police been able to arrest and prosecute patriotically in the eyes of the world? What are they doing on the unvarying ethno- religious killings and madness going on in some section of this country? How have they been able to tackle the shameless issue of child rape, rituality, kidnappers,child labour and domestic violence, including some fraudulent political and religious activities going on under our eyes?

Are the Nigerian police force bullies on helpless citizens as some analysts have projected? The hostile relationship being portrayed on journalists across the country over the years is a serious concern to every right thinking 21st century individual. The Nigerian media and the Nigerian police have always portrayed a comic-like strip of the famous Tom and Jerry relationship. Is it true that the police only bully and arrest those it can shout on,beat senselessly and lock up without mercy, as long as the godfather is not there or the naira wont flow? Is it not actually a shame to the force that at this age of information technology where even the remotest village in the world today can be seen from anywhere and every single activities captured on satellite, yet they allowed themselves to be used and dumped in the eyes of both local and international media who now have a true picture of their one sided unconstitutional behaviours.

How many writers and publishers of the various letters and opinions that float most of our newspapers have they arrested and how many complainers do they have in their record? Or is Baba’s letter a reincarnation of the famous Dele Giwa letter? When would the Nigerian police establishement understand the simple fact that they are paid by the tax payers to protect their rights to speech, right to movement and assembly and right to the security of their lives and property? When will it occur to them that the Nigerian citizenry irrespective of class, statue, religion or tribe is their primary constituency? As it really occurs to our bullying police force that without the media only God would have known what would have happened to the many atrocities, maladministration and corruption that had bedeviled the hitherto respected force over the years. The distinguished men of the pen have fought gallantly over their many causes: ranging from proper remuneration, compensation, accommodation, training and justice to many of them that had fallen one way or the other to injustice among its ranks. When will they recognize that the world see them more as bullies due to their ill- treatment of innocent citizens over the decades and their anti social behaviours?

Has it really occurred to the Nigeria police that they are policing Nigerians like themselves and not illegal aliens from other nations or planets? Is it actually possible that they understand that their wives, children and other members of their families attend the same markets, schools, and travel the same roads with us? Question, question and questions, so many questions for our men in black.

Anyway, I think, it is important for the Nigeria Union of Journalists on behalf of these patriotic men of the pen who were disgracefully arrested from their line of duty sue the Nigeria Police Force and its hierarchy locally and internationally, to serve as an example to other overzealous policemen who might be instigated by the letter of another failed leader among the many sitting on our collective wealth and enjoying them freely under the full glaring eyes of the police. And importantly, to remind them that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian empowers the Nigeria media of a freedom of expression and a legal law of freedom of information, and that no matter the bullying and intimation, the Nigerian media historically have never and would never succumb to the timid guns of the police; that can never be mightier than the pen.

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