Civilians Have No Right To Respond Or Retaliate Against Police Officers
Having read through the statements made by the Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi and The Vice Chairman of Nigeria Bar Association, Ijebu Ode Branch, Moruff O. Balogun Esq, I thereby align with the submission of both distinguished personalities that civilians have no right to respond if policemen slap them.
This is because the submission is valid and clear interpretation of the law. There has been no law in our federation that authorise the response/ retaliation of civilians against police officers. However, there are established laws that proscribe assault on police officer and their penalties. The criminal code prescribes 3 years’ imprisonment as penalty for the offence of assaulting or slapping a police man. Section 98 of The Police Act, 2020 also prohibits assault on police officers and provides for penalty. Note: The law clearly says “Police Officers” and did not differentiate whether good or bad officers. It is unlawful for anyone to assault or slap a police man.
Also, the retaliation of civilians against police men reduces the significance of law and encourages anarchy and jungle justice in the society. The Nigeria Police Regulation is a law enacted to focus mainly on the conducts of officers and regulating them. Section 370 of the Police Regulation provides for the offences against discipline by police officers.
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Section 371 of the aforementioned law further prescribes penalties for erring officers. It state thus:
“A junior officer who is guilty of an offence against discipline shall be liable to any of the following punishments: that is to say; (1) Dismissal (2) Reduction in rank (3) Withholding or deferment of increment (4) Reprimand (5) Fine not exceeding #10 (6) Confinement to barracks for any number of days not exceeding fourteen days (7) Fatigues or other duties or punishments drills not exceeding a total of ten separate hours.
These provisions clearly insinuate that policemen are not above the law and will be punished if found guilty for misconduct/ illegal discharge of duties.
The Anti-Torture Act, 2017 also proscribes assault on civilians and states penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment for anyone found guilty. The reprisal of civilians against policemen will only lead to chaotic situations, causing more untimely deaths among the members of the society. The police have the duty and responsibility to protect citizens and their properties. However, if the retaliation of civilians against policemen is allowed, they will be unable to carry out this duty. Frankly speaking, no civilian dares to confront or retaliate against a military man. But it’s not same for police officers. This is the reason the controversy happening between civilians and the police officers does not focus mainly on the civilians but also the Police Force. There’s urgent need for a much better reform and subsequent enlightenment programmes in the Police Force to continually keep them on the right track of law.
It is therefore my humble submission that these two highly distinguished personalities have published their statements to urge civilians not retaliate or take law into their hands on errant officers. But should rather report/ make complaint against such officer to appropriate authorities. There are several actions instituted in court against the Nigeria Police Force for misconduct/ illegal discharge of duties and some are won.
It is quite unfortunate that majority interpreted or misquoted the statement by the Police Force PRO in the wrong manner. I advise and encourage civilians to endure and maintain patience with police officers either the lawful or erring ones, then let the law play it’s course.