Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



  • For Democratic Control of Police by Communities
  • For Decent Conditions and Right to Union for Police Officers
By Fidel Davynovic

The “Right to life, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of Expression” etc., as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), has come under increased attacks in the last three months in many poor working class communities like in Ajegunle, Ikorodu, Mosafejo, Olodi-Apapa, Okokomaiko, Iyan-oba etc. and indeed across the country, between January and April, 2019. Lagos State has recorded four incidents of misuse of firearms which have resulted in extra-judicial killings of young citizens of this country and injury to others” (Nigerian Tribune 16/4/2019).

No doubt, Lagos with a population of about 20 million people has only 33, 000 police officers to combat crime and also lacking in basic facilities to fight crime. As if this is not bad enough, the police officers are turning their guns on innocent citizens they are supposed to protect under the guise of fighting crime. However, these extra-judicial killings in recent time have provoked protest from community people. The recent killing of a 20 year old girl, Ada Ifeanyi resulted in protest march to Trinity and Ajeromi Police Stations on Monday April 15, 2019.

Although, 4 of police officers who were linked to the killing were arrested and detained, this is not the first time extrajudicial killings had taken place in poor working class communities. Of note and remembrance is the killing of Charles Okorafor at about 8pm on Thursday April 1, 2010 by the police officers attached t Ajeromi Police Station in an illegal, brutal and extortionist raid of a viewing centre at Yinusa Close, off Layinka in Ajegunle while the Benfica vs Liverpool UEFA cup match was going on.

Also recently, at Onipetesi near Ikeja Lagos a young man Kolade Johnson who had gone to watch a football match was killed by operatives of SARS

The protesters of the killing of Ada Ifeanyi alleged that the officers of the Special Anti-robbery Squad, SARS have usually used force and other unlawful means to intimidate community people in the course of their duties. SARS officers were accused of illegal raid of innocent unemployed youth with the aim of extorting money.

The harassment of persons with dread locks and tattoos shows the prejudice of the Nigeria Police operatives who instead of using acceptable crime fighting mechanism have resorted to crude means with the sole purpose of extorting huge sums of money from their victims.

Statistics confirm link between youth violence/crime and unemployment/poverty. For example, former Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina noted that Nigeria unemployment rate is growing with, “youth unemployment rate is over 50 per cent. Our unemployment rate is spiraling, driven by the wave of four million young people entering the workforce every year with only a small fraction able to find formal employment” (Vanguard 6/10/2014). This shows that if unemployment and poverty are addressed frontally, crime will also come down.

The police officers who kill, harass or extort innocent citizens must be made to face justice. However, Nigeria Police officers should be paid living wage and provided decent working conditions. The right to form and belong to a police union should be granted so that police men/women can channel their grievances to the appropriate quarters instead of using their guns to intimidate people as a means of raising money. .

The campaigns to end police brutality, illegal raid and extortion must be built and sustained in communities with peaceful protests and petitions. The campaigns must demand democratic control of police by the community people as well as demand living wage and right to trade unions for police officers.

However, it is not likely that any pro-capitalist government that needs police to repress working people because of its characteristic anti-poor policies will grant such demands especially community democratic control of police. The state, according to Lenin in “State and Revolution”, is in the final analysis nothing but ” a special body of armed men”. This means that no matter the reforms advocated, the police and army under the current capitalist arrangemnent will not cease to be an instrument of capitalist exploitation. This is why the campaign must be linked with the struggle for a working people party that could wrest political power and form a government that will end iniquitous capitalist system and replace this with a workers and poor people’s government armed with a socialist programme which being not based on class exploitation would have no need for the kind of police and army currently existing under capitalism.