A retired Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr. Samuel Larayetan has said reforming the police will turn out to be an uphill task noting that the force has been completely polluted.
He also gave insight into why the Special Anti-Robbery Squad has remained a terror to law-abiding citizens rather than being succour them
Larayetan who spoke with Church Times on phone said he was to join the SARS while he was in the police, but that his boss prevented him from joining because according to him he lacked the behavioural pattern of men who join the unit.
“My name had been shortlisted to be part of the unit. But when my then boss saw my name, he asked if I could kill saying he knows that I don’t have the capacity for such a thing. He said they need ruthless people in that unit. That was why I was not allowed to join the unit.” He said.
Larayetan noted that the moral rectitude of those in that unit is responsible for the kind of behaviour they exhibit. While agreeing that there are many wonderful and great officers in the police force, he said there are too many of the officers who have consistently given the force a bad name.
He shared some of his experiences while in Lagos. He said some of the officers have this orientation that when they come to Lagos, they have to make money.
“Ï once had cause to intervene in a case. A man’s phone was forcefully seized from him. I saw the man in front of my house looking distraught. He didn’t know I was a police officer. I asked him what happened, he said a police officer had just seized his phone. I asked if he could identify the officer, he said yes. I took him to the station. I was the DPO of that station which was also around where I lived.
“Immediately officers who went out were coming back to the station, I asked them to wait and I invited the man to come and look at the officers and point out the person who collected the phone. As God would have it, the officer was right there. I first ordered that he produce the phone and that he be detained. He could not produce the phone.
“He probably had disposed of it. I followed up on the matter and ensured that he paid back the money for the phone. When I carried out further investigation on the officer, I found out that he was transferred from Kaduna to Lagos. He had said to himself that he would buy a car when he gets to Lagos. He believes the money he gathers from such fraudulent dealings will serve that purpose.”
Larayetan said further that increasing the salaries of the police may help but that it won’t solve the problem. “What I think the police needs is complete reorientation which I think will take a lot of hard work. It is not even about being educated. There are a lot of educated thieves in the force. They intentionally set out to make money. With such people, there is no amount of money you can pay them that will stop them from being ruthless. Some officers use money to influence their posting to juicy places where they know they can harass innocent people to make money for themselves.”
He recalled that some DPOs were in the habit of asking for returns from officers that are in the field. “That is why many of the field officers do everything to make money. If they see any young man with an expensive phone, they conclude that the person is a yahoo yahoo person which may not be true. In fact, some policemen are the yahoo yahoo people. They operate through a syndicate and they post some officers and even enlist civilians to stay in strategic places to look for preys.”
The retired CSP said he saw so many horrible things while in the force. According to him a name change from SARS to SWAT will not solve the problem but rather a deliberate training and retraining and perhaps invocation of the spiritual perhaps there will be a change. “I had cause to fight with some of them when I was in the force. The situation in the force looks beyond redemption. But if the government has the will power, a change could happen.”
On the ongoing protest, he said, “My reading of this protest is that it is beyond anti-SARS. The protest is about bad governance and the expression of the deep-seated anger in people. People are protesting because there is hunger in the land. The protesters are against leadership failure. And it will do well for the government to begin to address the injustices in the country.”