Richarmond O. Natha-Alade

COVID-19; Nigerian Police Mad again; dancing naked and brutally Violating Peaceful Nigerians – Richarmond O. Natha-Alade

There is no more of an unprecedented trying times in the history of the World as this; with concerned Head of Governments, Chief Executives of Countries, States, Provinces, Municipalities and Districts taking measures to enforce restrictions to disable, contain and/or curtail the multiplicity of the pandemic; Corona Virus also known as COVID-19.  

It is disheartening that in spite of the sudden surge of this disease and in the face of lack of employment leading many Nigerians to be forcefully self-employed and daily struggling for means of survival, and despite lack of facilities, lack of adequate care and/or provisions for emergencies for a time as this, it is important we ask ourselves this important question;- how would the average unemployed /self-employed Nigerians with mere or meager means of daily income survivethis hard time if forcefully made to stay at home without any parliative measures in place ?
Much disheartening, in the face of these all, the men of Nigerian Police seems to be mad again; they are dancing naked to the rhythm of the gods who pre-warned them to be clothed while dancing for them. And Just like a dog destined to be lost in the wilderness, they never head to the calls or trumpect sounds of the hunter. It is of no surprise, they are grossly lost and conducting themselves as nuisance rather than law enforcers; especially in some states where restrictions and/or regulations had been placed on human activities through various executive orders to curtail and contain the human spread of the COVID-19.
It is further saddening, going by the video that went viral within the week, of the activities of Lagos State Task Force; constituting some Men of Nigerian Police, who were fully armed to their teeths and in most menacing manner went berserk in their numbers, shamelessky bradishing guns, displayed their uniforms in utmost theathrical glare, lawlessly and out of shared insensitivity and in their trigger-happy exuberance filmed themselves intimidating, terrorizing, breaking bottles, vandalizing properties and behaving like touts and oppressing peaceful Nigerians who watch them in utmost helplessly; all because these Nigerians who were not so lucky to be gainfully employed like them visited a place of their daily and only means of survival; they opened their shops and/or engaged in some petty personal business activities that seems not to be in line with the given executive directives of the State Governor of Lagos State. 

If I may ask, what is so difficult in warmly telling these Nigerians to simply close and lock up their shops? Wouldnt that be more of responsibility, humanity,nprofessionalism and being honourable.
It must be emphatically stated, that the effect of executive orders as declared and/or given by state Chief Executive are often in the interest of the public; yet, such executive orders cannot take the place of law as made by the legislatures within the given settings as this instance. It is safe to state categorically that violating such order is not against the law but against the given order itself which can be peacefully enforced with very minimal / little or no sanction if violated . In  Okafor v. Lagos State Government (2017) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1556) 404 it was held that disobeying the “order” or “directive” of a governor is not a criminal offence.

The law is trite, that no one can be punished of any offence not contained in any written law or enactments, and if such law or enactment make provisions for any offence without stating the punishment, it is as good as not existing. Therefore no one can be punished under such law. See section 36 of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 In other words, executive orders as the instance of Lagos State and others appeals only to reasoning; it also appeals to the interests of public morals, public safety, public health and public peace. hence, it is based on mutual understanding of leaders and subjects, cumulative of the utilitarian benefits and understanding of  such citizens on why the order must be enforced and obeyed by all.
The main and principal duties of Nigerian Police as enshrined by the Constitution of Nigeria, CAP 20 LFN and other enabling laws is the maintenance of law and peace, security and protection of lives and properties of every citizens. See also section 4 of the Police Act of Nigeria
The first rule of policing is peacefor peace; the standard practice in the world is that police are not allowed to use brutal or unreasonable force on peaceful and/or non-violent individuals. Only armed or individuals who exhibits violence tendencies can be met with same measure of force. This is the provisions of our constitution, other laws and standard of practice everywhere in the world. Analogue and Stone Age era men constituting Nigerian Police are found of violating this rule. An average police man would sting and bite a harmless dove in human form.
It was of much delight when I got hold of the news that the Inspector General of Police took pro-active steps by ordering the immediate arrest of such unscrupulous elements within the Nigeria Police; such men  within the Lagos State Command, who were given to such disorderliness and taking of laws into their own hands deserves all the cain. I would say without mincing words that the shameful conducts and brutish rascally behaviours of the men who brazenly recorded themselves violating the law and rights of Nigerian citizens had given police a brutally damaged image within the global sphere at such trying time of the world as this. Policemen are also human, they are not immune from sympathy and empathy, especially with Nigerians who are not so lucky to be gainfully employed like them and whose sweats and bloods were taken to maintain Nigerian institutions, the policemen inclusive of which, donations as tax from these private entities makes their salaries possible.
To this end, the Nigerian Police must be sued to their pants and uniforms in the given circumstance in order that proper compensation been given to persons whose rights to properties and lawful businesses had been flagrantly violated despite been availed protection and security under the Nigeria constitution and other enabling laws.
To this end, I commend the Inspector General of Police for taking such proactive steps; yet, I advocate for stiffer actions as dismissal for breaching code of conducts and their prosecution for malicious damage to property of individuals concerned to serve as deterrent to others with such idiosyncratic tendencies.
Policemen are not above the law; they are also subject to the provisions of laws and order of the nation which they have sworn to maintain and uphold come rain, come shine; hence, must lead by example. We must all work to make this country better and secure for all; enough of oppression of innocent Nigerians by Nigerian Armed Forces and other Security operatives.
While I implore we all stay safe and take caution by taking all preliminary curtailing measures that would help to limit and/or stop the spread of COVID-19, May this trying time pass over, may we rejoice and be free ones again.

Richarmond O. Natha-Alade
Legal Pratitioner at Sun Natha-Alade & Partners (SNATHAP)

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