Demonstrators talk to a police officer during a protest over alleged police brutality, in Lagos, Nigeria on October 12, 2020. File: Temilade Adelaja/Reuters

Police Brutality Worsens in Jos, Questions Reform Efforts

Some officers of the Nigerian Police Force in Jos have continued to arbitrarily detain and demand bribes from young people in Jos, despite national reform efforts.

News Room 7 mins ago 0 2

— Philemon Obeze

JOS, PLATEAU STATE-In an incident that has reignited concerns about police harassment and extortion in Jos, Plateau state’s capital city, a group of young creatives, including photographer Joseph Godwin, known professionally as Boy Stunner, found themselves detained by officers under dubious pretences.

On Sunday, June 9, around 2:00 pm, Godwin, alongside his brother (also a musician), another photographer, a fashion designer, and an artist, were at Rwang Pam Township Stadium, Jos, for a photoshoot. After completing some shots, they returned to their car to change outfits. However, their afternoon took a sinister turn when five armed police officers surrounded the vehicle and ordered them out.

The officers, according to Godwin, then directed them into a white bus and drove them to a police station, which he believes was the C Division. The atmosphere grew tense upon arrival as the supervising officer threatened to lock them all up in a cell. At this point, Godwin pressed for the reason for their detention.

The justification offered was as shocking as it was baseless: the group was accused of being “suspected cultists”. Their belongings, including phones, cameras, a laptop, and the car itself, were subjected to a thorough search. Demands were made to unlock their phones for further inspection.

This ordeal continued for a gruelling hour. The narrative then takes a more disturbing turn. Godwin recounts that one of the officers took him aside and solicited a bribe. Under duress, they were forced to withdraw ₦10,000 from a nearby POS machine. Only after this “transaction” were Godwin and his crew released, along with their confiscated items.

This incident is a stark reminder of the persistent problem of police brutality in Nigeria. The 2020 #EndSARS protests erupted in response to years of extrajudicial killings and violence at the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). While the unit was disbanded, it appears the underlying issues remain.

Social media users in Jos have taken to Twitter to express their outrage. The incident has reignited calls for action from the governor and other relevant authorities. Many online commentators point out that young people in the Jos-Bukuru metropolis continue to face police harassment and extortion.

When JoeyOffAir, a local community journalism publication, reached out to Alfred Alubo, the spokesperson for the Plateau State Police Command, for comment. Alubo expressed his desire to speak with Godwin directly. “I’d like you to help us reach out to the person that was harassed,” Alubo said. “Give him my contact, I’d like to have a chat with him in my office to answer some questions to help us identify these policemen to be arrested.”

Alubo further emphasized the role of public engagement in addressing such issues. “I’d like you to help us use your platform to educate and sensitise the public,” he told JoeyOff Air. “The Nigerian Police Force is meant to protect lives and properties. That’s why you can always have access to me whenever issues like these come up. We want to boost the confidence of citizens and cut every form of bureaucracy.”

Whether Alubo’s words translate into concrete action remains to be seen. 

— Additional reporting by Joey Shekwonuzhibo

Photo: Demonstrators talk to a police officer during a protest over alleged police brutality, in Lagos, Nigeria on October 12, 2020. File: Temilade Adelaja/Reuters

Written By

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from Joey Off-Air Podcast

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading