My chat with a Police corporal: Why we shoot protesters


china Acheru

I went to Choba this morning and for those who sincerely do not know, Choba is that community alongside Alakahia and Aluu that houses the University of Port Harcourt.

I go to Choba at least three times a week and no, I am not a student, neither am I a lecturer. Na something dey carry me go.

I was going to spend at least four hours there so I stopped at Kilimanjaro, the eatery to get something to eat later in the day and spotted a police truck parked just in front.

That was, maybe the fifth I had seen since I got into the area and I was already creating a story in my mind. They were all heavily armed too and I was already wondering. E no dey hard them for this uniport.

Was there something happening that I did not know about? The last time the students here went on a demonstration I got the information four days early but how come no one told me any thing this time.

I walked up to the police corporal and said, “Oga how you dey?” and his response was typically Nigerian. “Bros, we dey manage.”

The next I asked him was why there were so many of them around, “Abi something one happen?

E dey happen already na. The students say dem dey protest. Some don already come out yesterday. Some say dem go come out today. That’s why we are here.”

Hmmm. Make una no shoot them o. Because that is how you people killed one of them last year. That is what bothers me that you kill these student who are out to protest for whatever they think is wrong.”

Oga, I will not lie to you. If they are violent, I will shoot o. What if they attack me? Won’t I defend myself?

So you defend yourself by killing them? How will they attack you? Do they have guns? At most, they will throw stones and bottles. Is that enough for you to kill them?

So if they throw stones or a bottle at me and it hits me and I am bleeding, I won’t shoot? I will shoot o, though not to kill,” The corporal said.

I’m sure by shoot to kill, you mean at the legs, right?”

He nodded.

But the one that was killed last year was shot in the chest, more than once. How do you explain that?” I asked.

Well, it depends on the situation and the person involved. Maybe, they attacked the officers on duty. Maybe the person who shot was in danger, trigger happy or just afraid. It all depends. I won’t shoot to kill students but we are not all the same.”

It was getting interesting for me and I wanted the discussion to continue.

Bros,” I continued, “When we dey watch oyimbo films, the police use rubber bullets to chase away people. Why do you people use live bullets? Can’t you use rubber bullets?

Oga, I can see you are a big man. We need people like you to talk to the IG (Inspector General) of police. If they give us rubber bullets, then we will use them. I have never seen these rubber bullets. We only use what we have.”

As I turned to walk away since my conversation had ended, he called me back and added, something that brought the discussion to another level.

Let me not lie to you. Most of us are frustrated. There is so much suffering in the land, our welfare is close to zero level and we can’t even make ends meet. It is this frustration we take out on the streets and behave the way we do,” he revealed.

You can imagine putting fifteen to twenty years in the police and cannot even boast of salary of fifty thousand naira monthly. The system is very bad and our people are frustrated. That is the big problem.

I am a graduate. This one just beside me (he pointed at his colleague) is also a graduate but we are here under the sun. Those that graduated with us who are civil servants, or work in different parastatals of government are doing much better than us. It seems the country just does not care about us yet we risk our lives everyday.

There are a few of us who are very intelligent and know how to draw the line but a lot are not as enlightened and when you add the piled up anger and frustration, with a gun in your hand it is difficult to control them.

There are rules of engagement and we have been taught how and when to use our guns, but like I said, it is a frustrating country to live in and these men are humans too,” he said.

That is the challenge sir. We do not just come out to kill but a lot of factors add up together to bring about these unfortunate events.”

At least I saw an honest police man on the streets say it as it is. It is just sad that Nigeria has turned us into animals in human skin (apologies Fela Kuti).

Now I must go and continue the work that brought me to Choba.

0 thoughts on “My chat with a Police corporal: Why we shoot protesters

  1. This is very unmoral and unjust in all kinds. I really despise police brutality and violence. They seem to overuse their power and never follow human rights. I disagree with their thinking and I believe that they lack moral values. I hope that the government sees this type of action and act on it immediately.

    1. I have seen that happen a couple of times before. This one was bad because the woman thought she was doing the right thing and became victim. I just hope the Lawyers take it up

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