After Mr. Godfrey Attah, a police recruit on training at the Police College Kaduna, was put under threat of dismissal and detained at the Police College Kaduna for opening up to the visiting members of the Presidential Committee on Police Reforms; an EFCC operative came to the college to confirm the story and assured Mr. Attah of his protection.
But, not long after the EFCC operative left, Mr. Attah came under persistent harassment from the rank and file of the college administration. He was under constant surveillance: the college authority had a keen eye on every move he made trying to detect any fault so as to detain him. He was thereafter, at the slightest opportunity, incarcerated for several days even for minor offences that did not warrant detention.
This state of relentless intimidation and harassment peaked when the new Commandant was personally interested in Mr Attah’s case and ordered for Attah’s detention in an inhumane condition, for twenty days. A Corporal (Dahiru, known for his obnoxiousness towards recruits) was the one that detained Attah by the orders of the Headmaster (Acting SP MD Suleiman) on 23 July 2012.
After a couple of days, the Headmaster took Mr. Attah to the Assistant Commandant (AC Hamisu U Makama of the Basic Department) who pressed for his dismissal. The Headmaster briefed the Commandant about Mr Attah’s previous encounter on the occasion of the visit of the Presidential Committee on Police Reform and put pressure on the Assistant Commandant to dismiss the recruit.
On the tenth day of the recruit’s detention, the Assistant Commandant took him to the Commandant (Salisu Rufia). The Commandant threatened to deal with Mr Attah and his family. In the presence of his high ranking officers, he assured the recruit that he was going to dismiss him from the college. Thereafter, he ordered that Mr Attah be returned to the cell and detained for an additional day.
Mr Attah’s days at the Police College Kaduna became a living hell. He had to be overly careful with even the way he smiles to avert giving the college authorities the excuse to detain him. He would be locked up at the slightest opportunity. One such opportunity presented itself when Mr Attah inadvertently turned up late for a Falling-Out-Parade. He was summarily detained for four days.
The detention cell at the college is a meagrely 9m2 and is usually packed with up to 20 detainees at a time. They had to sleep on the cold, bare, fungi-infested floor. It had no toilet facilities, no bunk beds; just bare floor. The detainees incarcerated in it were often left for days without food or drinking water. They had to beg the officers guarding the cell to let them out for a few minutes to defecate. It is in such inhumane conditions that for 20 days at a stretch Mr Attah had to endure the cold, mosquitoes and bed bugs.
He was only released from detention because he fell ill and had to be hospitalized. Even then, it was the cell guards that took him to hospital to be treated for malaria, typhoid and skin infections. He was also diagnosed of ulcer.
In spite of Mr Attah’s ill-health, his victimization continued unabated. There was a day the Assistant Commandant went for a Tattoo Parade around 9:00pm and ordered the detention of the recruit on trumped-up charges. He was falsely accused of being absent at the parade in spite of the fact that he was present at the parade!
Mr Attah was thereafter detained for three days, after which he was asked to rejoin his school mates and attend classes. These bouts of detention Mr Attah suffered contravene the provisions of the Police Act and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: s.34(1) (a) “No person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman degrading treatment”; and s.35(3) “Any person who is arrested or detained shall be informed in writing with twenty-four hours (and in a language he understands) of the facts and the grounds for his arrest or detention.”
Alas, on Thursday 6 September 2012, at the Muster Parade around 9:00am, an order came from the Commandant through the Provost’s office, and he was taken by the officers. They forcefully photographed him, then two Provost Officers escorted him to the dormitory, seized from his possession the college uniforms and training materials. He was asked to pack his belongings and then escorted out of the college. Thus haven spend a year (17 October 2011 to 10 September 2012) in the college, Mr Attah was summarily expelled from the Police College Kaduna.
This expulsion is unjustifiable. Whatever the allegations against him were, he was not given a fair hearing and the opportunity to defend himself. He was even intimidated into signing a statement prepared by the college authority. This was of course done under duress.
Whenever the college wanted to victimize him, he was accused of being overage. Initially, they alleged that his credentials were falsified. But when they verified their authenticity, they changed to challenging his age and indigeneship. The college authority has in all cases been unable to prove that he was overage or disprove his indigeneship.
Even when Mr Attah was finally dismissed, they couldn’t tell him for what offence. Even the Provost Officer said he has no idea why he was dismissed. He said it was an order from above.
His dismissal couldn’t be based on the trumped-up charges of truancy: there were students who’ve been absent from the Police College for weeks, even months, but nothing has been done to them because they had high-ranking officers (godfathers) in the college to cover them up. Even in the case of recruits accused of theft or fighting, (offences that warrants dismissal) many were not dismissed or punished for this offences. They were rather asked to go back to their classrooms.
It is saddening that illegality thrives in an institution that is saddled with the responsibility of training law enforcement agents. The unlawful dismissal of Mr Attah from the Police College is by no means the only case. The College Commandant routinely appears at the parade ground, classes and the dormitories and randomly picks out recruits and summarily expels them from the college. Hundreds of recruits who’ve spend about a year at the college and have receive training in, and have experience in, musketry of LAR, Barrator, AK47 Armour etc, have been summarily expelled from the college without any justification.
These young people are thrown into the society without jobs. With their arms training and knowledge of the workings of the Police, would some of them not be tempted into armed robbery or even joining insurgents and militants and constitute a grave security risk to the nation?
In furtherance of the federal government’s goal of youth empowerment through job creation, the fight against corruption and the obligation to provide security for the lives and properties of her citizens, there must be a quick intervention to clear the mess going on at the Nigerian Police College Kaduna. And this intervention must be now.
Article written by Godfrey Attah