By: Okosun Dennis
Nigerian Police was created to maintain peace and order in the society hence the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other Acts clearly state their functions.
They have often performed those roles without inhibitions. Unfortunately, in the process of carrying out those functions, they tend to overshot their bound, often times, leading to lawlessness and acrimony by the citizens.
Misbehaviours of this nature ranges from extrajudicial killings, illegal arrest cum detention and other malfeasances that have dented the image of the Force.
However, due to Covid-19 pandemic outbreak that have shut down nations economy and institutions, the Lagos State government efforts to check the spread of the virus led to measures enunciated in the last few weeks.
Among those measures after the presidential broadcast by President Mohammedu Buhari, among others was the imposition of a curfew on Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states for 14 days. However, it was further reviewed given Lagos residence the permission to go to market places to restock food items and other valuables between 10am and 2pm everyday.
Unfortunately that arrangement which had taken place initially without any qualms is been thwarted by the personnel of the Lagos State Police Command.
On Monday, hell was almost let loose by Crown estate junction as artificial gridlock caused by officers of the Rapid Response Squad, (RRS) of the Nigerian Police blocked the Ajah-Epe expressway, with traffic stretching over two kilometers or more.
This reporter, who got there about 12noon couldn’t drive pass a distance that would, ordinarily not have lasted for more than 10 seconds but took over him two hours to get off the traffic.
Calls made to the spokesperson, Lagos State Police Command, DSP Elkana Bala was not answered as his line kept reading ‘line busy’. A WhatsApp message that was later sent to him with both video clip and pictures of the gridlock were not responded to till now.
It became so calamitious that owners of vehicles, who were mainly private individuals, security vehicles, food and beverage companies, ambulances came down, asking questions the rationale behind the blockage. Essentially, the traffic snarl up orchestrated by the blockage undermined efforts of the state government to ensure there were social distancing.
Out of frustration, those who managed to walk pass the blockage hopped into available bike, who were busy plying the road to make ends meet.
A frustrated young man who claimed to have had an appointment at an undisclosed Hospital boldly walked to the police to explain his plight. Instead of getting a succour, he was jeered at and asked to leave there before being manhandled.
Speaking to this reporter, the young man who spoke anonymously with his hospital appointment papers in his hands said, “I have been in traffic for over an hour and the police wouldn’t let me pass to keep an appointment in the hospital. I have a test to run and other treatments. I just went to explain to one of the officers to let me pass, instead, he insulted and jeered at me. What kind of country is this,” he explained looking frustrated and embarrassed.
Sadly, the policemen who blocked both sides of the highway with used tyres and other obstacles, were not even asking for identification cards from drivers or the reason why someone would be on the road rather, their interest was to block the road.
At the other side of the road that leads to Sunview estate, some policemen were busy parking some vehicles there for one offence or the other. Some were, however, allowed to go after some token of gratification.
After a long spell at the traffic, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) with name tag as James ordered some of the policemen to allow people to pass provided they were on a single lane.
At the Abraham Adesanya estate roundabout, Elemoro Area Command, Ajiwe and Ilaje bus stop Ajah were similar emergency checkpoints have resonated, the police’s approach and disposition were superlative. They didn’t only display deep sense of maturity but they were professional and responsible.
Every vehicles that passes was asked to identify himself with a valid identity card of his/her working p lace provided such person(s) was or were among those the President permitted to move as providing essential service(s) during the lockdown.