Home » Armed Forces, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, Philip Ikomi » Naval Officers’ Brutality – By Dr. Phiilip Ikomi

Naval Officers’ Brutality – By Dr. Phiilip Ikomi

By Dr. Philip Ikomi | NNP | May 24, 2012 – This title was chosen because the Naval officials brutalized the traffic officers in question in the course of the discharge of their duties in Ogun State. A lot of our illiterate and literate Nigerian citizens seem to think that the armed forces and the police are above the law. I would not be wrong too to assume that the armed forces and police personnel also truly believe that they are above the law. Some of them think that they may not be above the law, but their superiors, commanding officers, and higher rank officers are above the law. That is the reason perhaps that one of the traffic officers was saying in this report that the offending Naval officer was not in uniform, translated to, if he were in uniform, he would not have been questioned for going against the normal flow of traffic. This is one of the many instances where people in uniform misuse their authority or position to break the law of the land with impunity. There is no reason whatsoever for any and I mean any ranking or non-ranking officer of any of the Nigerian armed forces or the police should break the road safety laws or any laws in the country. Police, military officers of all the armed forces of the nation, Navy, Air Force, Army are not above the law according to our constitution. The governors have all sworn to protect the constitution but they have no authority backed with the force of the police to make arrests in their jurisdictions and so everybody is held hostage by the armed forces and the police. These bodies do not police themselves and root out the bad ones who trample on the rest of us. In fact, the higher ranking officers take advantage of the lack of challenge to their misbehaviors to enjoy free, speedy rides on our roads all over the country including mainly roads leading to all our airports. They come with sirens blazing and koboko wielding officers or other ranks and force their way through traffic while the rest of the citizens are left to sweat and clear or be cleared and beaten by them into pulp as they did to the traffic official who questioned the Naval officer in Ogun State.

It is incomprehensible to me that even in Nigeria of today, armed forces personnel and the police have not been told in clear unambiguous terms that they cannot disturb the flow of traffic on our roads for any reason, no matter how highly placed the officer may be. I believe this and other civil conduct should be drilled into the ears of our military and police personnel while they are still in school and it should be enforced with severe penalties to any erring personnel. In fact, our legislators should have long addressed this kind of situation when it was manifestly clear that members of the armed forces and police and governors and senators and representatives have had the roads cleared for them to pass on several occasions and in many of those occasions, ordinary citizens have been brutalized, maimed, or even killed. The only person in Nigeria who should have roads cleared for him is the President of Nigeria. Nobody else deserves such an honour. I have watched in disgust as military officers drive against the normal flow of traffic with shear disregard for other road users. In fact, on one occasion, I was at Mile 2 junction on the Badagry Express Way when an army non-commissioned officer wielding a Koboko, came to the junction, whipped the traffic officer, and pushed him aside while he controlled the traffic until his convoy came along and he then passed it and hopped on and left. The traffic officer was completely helpless and was groaning under the weight of that assault before bystanders came to his aid. This is very disgraceful for a Nigerian citizen doing his lawful duty. Where are the authorities when such incidents are happening? I have also asked a police officer at a road junction where they were passing traffic why she allowed an officer to pass driving opposite the traffic and she said that the person was an officer. Well, I told her that she should have arrested the officer. When I said that she said she did not want to be punished for arresting her superior. If this is the thinking of the police on the matter of an officer breaking the law, it is apparent that the police believe that their officers are above the law.

Nigeria cannot make progress and give her people a better life if there is no law and order and obedience and compliance with the law. If there are no sanctions against the breaking of the laws of the land, everybody loses, including those who feel they are now at an advantage because they can break the law with impunity. Therefore, it is urgently necessary   that laws should be enforced fairly, evenly and everyone should be accountable for their behavior under the law.

In the case reported in the article in question, it was reported that the Naval officer to whom it was reported sent an apology. After breaking the law, beating someone who was trying to enforce the law in the course of his duty, a simple apology should not be seen as enough. Prosecution to the full extent of the law is required. The Navy has the responsibility to investigate the matter fully, and bring those responsible for beating the traffic officers to justice in our courts of law.

There is no reason we in Nigeria should say we are practicing democracy in which the people are not equal. The people in other lands, like the European Union member countries and the United States for example do not have their police and military clearing the citizens off the streets to make way for the officers to go to work, airport, or any other place that they are in a hurry to get to. Those countries all have traffic congestion and people and the military, even when the United States is at war remain patiently in their vehicles as the traffic moves slowly along. Nigerian military, the governors, and others must do the same. We can no longer see our country as different from those countries because we are not different. The only difference is the level of our development. We have a constitution that stipulates the relationship between the people and the armed forces and police and nowhere in that constitution does it suggest that ordinary citizens should yield right of way to military personnel or the governors   in the ordinary course of the day. In exceptional cases such as when there is a war or an emergency and emergency vehicles clearly so marked need a right of way, they will be accorded such right. Nigerians are already living in sub-perfect conditions and as such they do not deserve any additional undue stress being added to their situation on the roads. This menace whereby anybody with any rank or official insignia bulldozes his or her way through the streets of our country should be stopped immediately. Everybody should be under the law and all errant people including military officers who should really be the exemplars of law abiding citizens, should be brought to justice. I hereby urge Nigerian citizens to refuse to pull their vehicles off the roads when these military or gubernatorial vehicles come around threatening them with eviction from the roads. The orders are illegal. The police or military have no right under the Nigerian constitution to evict or beat up any citizen on the roads. They should have that drilled into their consciousness in the military or police academies and the police university that they now have.

Philip A. Ikomi, Ph.D.

Retired Airline Captain and Retired Professor of Psychology

Philip Ikomi is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist

Email for feedback: philikomi@yahoo.com

Short URL: http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=21346

Posted by on May 24 2012. Filed under Armed Forces, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, Philip Ikomi. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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