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Offa Robbery Nigerians know that some police officers are armed robbers too

Yesterday, March 14, 2018, the Nigerian Police arrested one of the suspected armed robbers in the Offa incident. His name is Michael Adikwu. He used to be a Police Corporal in Ilorin.

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Police arrest wanted Offa robbery suspect who is a former SARS officer play This Offa robbery suspect has been identified as Michael Adikwu, a former police officer who worked for SARS until six years ago (Nigeria Police Force)

A day after the Offa robbery, the subject of where the police officers, particularly the members of the scandalous SARS, came up during a discussion between myself and a few friends. Not all questions about the Nigerian Police should be answered, same for questions from them. So when I suggested that it was pointless to ask questions about people who - time has suggested - could have been more involved in the robbery than we thought, it was from a place heavy with context.

Yesterday, March 14, 2018, the Nigerian Police arrested one of the suspected armed robbers in the Offa incident. His name is Michael Adikwu. He is in his mid-30s. He used to be a Police Corporal in Ilorin.

A senior police officer told Punch, "He (Adikwu) was a SARS operative at the Kwara State Police Command. He used to fraternise with robbers. There was a robbery that happened in Kwara State about six years ago. The robbers killed somebody and escaped. The police were able to arrest those robbers."

"He collected money from those robbery suspects and released them. Later, the robbers were rearrested and they confessed that he aided their escape. He was arrested, tried in an orderly room trial and dismissed."

play Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed visits victims of Offa robbery. (Kwara State)

 

"He was charged to court together with the robbery suspects and was in prison for three years. He and some of the robbers were able to manoeuvre their way out of the prison and formed a robbery gang."

Nigerians have long suspected members of security agencies and law enforcement officers of taking long walks on the other side of the fence. And as you would be forgiven for assuming the not-so-loved men of the Nigerian Police are first on that list.

Caught in the act

This assumption of complicity is not without reason. On many occasions, police officers have been linked to or caught at such crimes, from petty theft and burglary to the most daring robberies.

ALSO READ: Watch footage of the Offa robbery that claimed over 30 lives

Sometimes, it is for planning and selling information and weapons, as in the case of Corporals Mbara Udochukwu and Glory Eke, of the Abia State Command who were arrested in October 2017 for selling revolvers to armed robbers and kidnappers.

In other instances, it is for their capacity to handle guns in such high stakes situation like Mr Emenike Vincent, a former Mobile Police Officer who was arrested in Abia on the wrong side of a robbery operation.

Nigerian police officers also show themselves to not be the finest pillars of characters in the line of active duty.

Nowadays, you can get stopped at the most random places, and as the thousands of accounts on Twitter will testify, the man who should be protecting you can often turn out to be the one with a gun to your face and his hand clasped around your atm card.

On the 8th of April 2018, the police announced that they had evidence to suspect that a former Police officer was one of the Offa robbers.

With the relief that progress had finally been made came a strong sense of disappointment, a feeling that made you want to say you already knew or suspected as much, but you hold yourself back only because this isn't exactly the kind of thing you should gloat about.

No one is really surprised

The news about Michael Adikwu has only delivered a strange catharsis. The Nigerian Police suffers from a level of distrust among the people it is supposed to protect; an event like this only reinforces a strong perception of policemen as desperate mercenaries.

ALSO READ: Nigerians are not secure and its a reality we are often reminded of

It would only fair to address the reason why most police officers appear so: terrible working conditions and bad pay.

play The line that "the Police is your Friend" has been disproved in many circumstances. (Information Nigeria)

 

Over the years, the welfare of officers of the Nigerian Police, and their peers in other forces, has bobbed in and out of conversations but things have only gone so far as words will carry the subject.

In many ways, Michael Adikwu is a real-life embodiment of the reckless assumptions we often make when in anger, we refer to Nigerian Police officers as armed robbers and Criminals.

Disappointment, worry, there are many emotions that describe how the people I've met feel about this arrest, surprise is not one of them.

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