EndSARS protest, kidnapping responsible for police, Nigerians’ distrust — IPCR DG

The Director General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Dr Bakut T. Bakut, Tuesday, said the 2020 EndSARS protest and the upsurge in kidnapping, cattle rustling and bandits’ attacks are some of the factors responsible for the distrust between the police and Nigerians.

Bakut, who spoke at a day conference organised for the police in Abuja with the theme: “Rebuilding confidence and trust between the Nigeria Police and the public”, identified operational accountability challenges as another factor responsible for the distrust between the police and Nigerians.

To this end, he expressed the confidence that with the workshop, the negative narrative against the police would change.

“There is no gainsaying to note that these challenges are sufficient conditions to create enabling environment for the police personnel to violate the laws they are constitutionally empowered to defend. Several reports have been alleged, identifying the ills perpetrated by the Nigeria police to include extra-judicial killings, indiscriminate arrests, detention, harassment, extortion etc.

“These actions have at different times sparked up protest of low intensity level however the nationwide youth Endsars protest last year, climaxed the protest of high intensity with deleterious consequence on major cities across the country. The fall out further impacted negatively to an already Covid-19 ridden economy.  

“The protest and post protest experiences, significantly laundered the image of the Nigeria police and broken the bridges of trust that existed between the police institution and the Nigeria public. 

“The upsurge in crimes such as kidnapping for ransom, cattle rustling, bandits attacks, terrorism, cybercrime etc., dominating the Nigeria security landscape create skepticism, doubt and distrust as to whether the police have the capacity and capability to provide adequate protection for the Nigeria public. 

“This workshop therefore seeks to change the negative narrative by way of repositioning the Nigeria police to take up its statutory role by being responsive to public need and provide security as a public good to the Nigerian public.

The Founder, Peace for Africa Initiative, Dr Robert Anya Nkata, whose organisation partnered with IPCR to organize the conference, called on the police to  treat Nigerians with dignity while discharging their duties and urged Nigerians to see and treat them as their brothers and sisters.   

He said: “The relationship between the Nigeria Police and the public got to this lowest level after the Endsar protest, which we believe was hijacked by un-identified persons. It resulted to the complete loss of confidence and trust between the police and the public.

“We must all remember that no nation will ever survive without the protection of lives and property of her citizens, which is a job, saddled with the Nigeria police.

“But there is a caveat here, the caveat is that they must discharge their duties within the ambit of the law and with the respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizens, while public must also know that these men and women in the police uniforms are our brothers and sisters, our cousins, our aunties, that must be treated as such,” he said.