It was the late Afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who invented the phrase “roforofo fight” to describe a messy, weird tango between two people or a group of people. Many years after Fela’s death, the word “roforofo” has again been brought to the front burner.
The story goes thus: Two officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, were in the early hours of last Wednesday allegedly killed by some policemen over an operational disagreement in Ikorodu on the outskirts of Lagos. Five other NSCDC officials were said to have sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds during the unfortunate encounter. The slain officials were on duty with their colleagues when a disagreement ensued between them and the police.
The NSCDC officials were said to have successfully arrested some pipeline vandals with their exhibit. They were taking the suspects to their office, when one of the suspects made a call.
Shortly after, the NSCDC officials encountered the policemen who opened fire on them. Two NSCDC operatives were instantly killed, while no fewer than five others were hit by bullets as they scampered to safety. The vandals who had earlier been apprehended were then allegedly released by the police.
‘We need to be careful in this country and avoid causing unnecessary commotion through needless disagreements between our security agencies leading to avoidable death, injuries and destruction at all times’
The incident has fuelled speculations that the policemen that killed the NSCDC officials were collaborators in pipeline vandalism. But, in a swift reaction, the police, through Ngozi Braide, the spokesperson for the state Police Command, denied the allegation. She said: “There was a distress call from DM Security PPMC, Mosimi, that they were experiencing drop in pressure on the pipeline. The Unit Commander in charge of Konu immediately pulled out his men on Konu axis under Inspector Sunday Gabriel to proceed to the scene. As they were approaching, they heard sound of serious gun firing in their area of pipeline coverage and the Inspector instructed his men to proceed to that direction… Upon arrival, they saw a group of Civil Defence Corps members coming out from the direction where the shooting was earlier heard. The NSCDC men challenged the policemen who were about four in number on what their mission was in the area, saying that it was their sole responsibility (Civil Defence) to guide and protect pipelines.
“At this juncture, there was an argument between the NSCDC and the police. The most senior NSCDC officer, DSC Olufemi, ordered his men who were about 14 in number to disarm, arrest and handcuff the police team leader and the three other members of his team. The NSCDC succeeded in disarming the police team leader, Inspector Sunday Gabriel, handcuffed him, collected his service pistol, walkie-talkie and Police I.D card…”
These two storylines suggest that we are really in a big mess in this country. It is quite evident that there is deep-seated animosity between our various security agencies. This has impacted negatively on inter-agency cooperation and the overall security of the nation. Taking the two stories on their face value, one cannot but be amused and even amazed by the spirited defence put up by the Police.
Who will believe such a cock-and-bull story that a team of NSCDC officials ‘overpowered’ a team of well-armed policemen, handcuffed and leg-chained their leader, an inspector, and even collected his service pistol in the process? Perhaps, that story is meant to be told to the marines as the public need not go too far to know who is saying the truth between the two agencies.
The issue of incessant pipeline vandalism has become worrisome to all patriotic Nigerians in recent times. In fact, it has become a big epidemic begging for urgent solution. Not only have the activities of the vandals led to a sharp drop in revenue earning from oil, in many instances, it has also caused untold hardship to many families through uncontrolled fire outbreaks resulting in death and destruction.
Usually, the picture that has been created is that of a booming illicit trade that is being aided, and or supported by unscrupulous security agents. This is so because the thriving business has gone on for several years without the security agents being able to apprehend the real perpetrators. In the latest incident, some vandals were allegedly caught in the act. Diligent investigation could have led to the arrest of the big brains behind them. But what did we find? Two government agencies traded bullets, so to say, over the arrest. Not only were the vandals freed after what seems like a conspiracy between them and one of the security agencies, some security agents met their untimely death while others were injured.This is a national shame of a scandalous proportion!
The whole thing reeks of the depth of infamy into which the country has sunk because of unbridled corruption that has become a cankerworm in our body politic. Or else how can one explain all these perennial clashes by security agencies over security issues that have telling effects on the well-being of the nation at large?
Many Nigerians believe that most of the security problems we encounter on a daily basis are being instigated by unscrupulous security agents themselves. Take for instance, the issue of Boko Haram. Even Mr. President himself has cried out that Boko Haram agents have infiltrated the security agencies and the government itself. This, the President said, had hampered all efforts to find a lasting solution to the menace in the country. And from what has been going on all over the country, it is as if the security agencies as presently constituted may never find solution to the myriad of security problems confronting the nation. They seem to be more interested in the pursuit of filthy lucre with unfair and foul means.
This worrying situation has prompted various security analysts to harp on the need for cooperation among the security agencies, as a way of devising a concerted template to fight crime and criminality in the country. But rather than cooperating, what you find playing out everywhere is attempt to outdo or undo one another by the plethora of security agencies in the country. In many instances, these unhealthy rivalries have manifested in open public confrontation resulting in loss of lives and injuries to security agents and innocent members of the public.
If it is not the army versus the police, it could be the navy or air force slugging it out with the police. There has not been any love lost between the Police and the State Security Service (SSS) either. If the Police-SSS rivalry has not led to open confrontation involving shooting, at least, it has manifested in inter-service distrust. A case in point is the mess created by the two sister agencies on the investigation into the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde, the former personal secretary to Adams Oshiomhole, the governor of Edo State. Up till now, that riddle has not been solved.
Today, we are confronted with the bloody encounter between the NSCDC officials and the Police. Like I said earlier, this is a big shame. Fighting over whose right it is to apprehend pipeline vandals is out of the question. Any security agency or even an ordinary citizen has the right of arrest under the Constitution. Therefore, to disagree on such an issue as who, among or between two sister agencies, has the right to arrest vandals, smacks of a hidden agenda or lack of proper orientation as members of a security outfit worth its name.
We need to be careful in this country and avoid causing unnecessary commotion through needless disagreements between our security agencies leading to avoidable death, injuries and destruction at all times. That is why this latest crisis between the NSCDC and the Police must be thoroughly investigated by an independent, impartial body. Certainly, not by any department of the Police as they are party to the crisis. This way, the truth behind the fracas will be unearthed. Steps can then be taken to forestall a recurrence of such a national embarrassment. Somebody should save us from the incessant upheavals among our security agencies and agents. And urgently too!
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