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Barrister Sonupe Case: How Police Brutality, Citizens Harassment Resulted in Lack of Confidence in Nigeria Police

Barrister Sonupe Case: How Police Brutality, Citizens Harassment Resulted in Lack of Confidence in Nigeria Police

 

Oxford Dictionary describes BRUTALITY as cruel behaviour, violence or the act of being violent or cruel.

It has also been defined as the act of physical force unlawfully exercised towards the person(s) or property.
However, police brutality is defined as the unjustified use of force, which can include physical or psychological assault, shooting, taking or slamming.
Several factors have been attributed to this act by the Nigerian Police who are expected to protect lives and properties as well as the the public from any form of harm.

Some of the noted factors include poor training of the officers of the NPF on how to relate with the public, lack of legal repercussions for erring officers who use excessive force against civilians, corruption and poor motivation amongst other reasons.

For a Lagos-based lawyer in Nigeria, Barrister Olumide Sonupe, this sad act by the Nigeria Police Force is fast becoming a norm for the officers of the law to take laws into their own hands and this act has brought about mistrust between the police Officers and the public.

Some weeks ago, Barrister Sonupe was assaulted by a complainant in the presence of the DCO in Ajah police station without reprimand.

Barrister Sonupes’s phone was also seized for reasons best known to the officers and was not returned to him by the time he left the police station around 6:30 pm without any form of justification whatsoever.

Of course, the Nigeria Bar Association stepped in to defend one of their own after the legal body had held a meeting with Barrister Sonupe to hear what transpired at the Police station and they then decided to go with him to the Police station to retrieve his phone because an assault to one is considered an assault to all.

Members of the NBA were incidentally not surprised when they met with animosity at the DPO’s office. After this initial loathing by the DPO, Barrister Olumide Sonupe was given the chance to explain his side of the story.

According to Sonupe, it was at that point that the DPO realised that she had been misled by her officers and tried to mediate. Having said that, it was also in the course of the mediation by the DPO that Barrister Sonupe realised that his phone and that of the client had been deposited at area J police command by the surety of Sonupe’s client.

On getting to Area J, Sonupe and his colleagues who went with him were also told to come back the following day as the phones would only be released to the person who brought them to the command for safekeeping.

It would be noteworthy to know that the phones were released to the surety after he had been locked up till around 11 pm of the said day. After he was released he was then given the phone of Sonupe’s phone and that of his client. The surety couldn’t take the two phones home for security reasons so he dropped the phones at the area command.

The phones of both Sonupe and his client were eventually released only after about two weeks of keeping a citizen’s personal property unlawfully.

A lot transpired between Sonupe, his client and officers of the law and it won’t be out of place therefore, to call on the top echelon of the Police Force to begin special training on police/public relations for all their officers.

Police officers are meant to protect the lives and properties of members of the public, but it is usually the other way around where citizens are harassed by the same officers. This act of police brutality has resulted in a lack of confidence in the police officers by members of the public.

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