#THESTORIESOFMYCHILDHOOD: MY FIRST ENCOUNTERS WITH THE NIGERIAN SECURITY FORCES…

I was born 10 years after the so-called Nigeria’s independence of 1960.

I think my first encounter with the police  was at age of 12 when the present University of Ado-Ekiti was established as Obafemi Awolowo University.

My dad, who worked with the defunct National Bank of Nigeria (NBN) had just acquired a Bettle Volkswagen (popularly called yeri n be to) and chose a weekend to take us(the children) to see to site of the newly established university. We lived in Ado-Ekiti.

The journey was however truncated by the men of the Nigerian Police Force, who mounted a checkpoint on the way to our destination. My first emotion on sighting the men blue uniform was that of fear. Note that my parents did not before and after that incident gave me any education on the Nigerian Police. Like other issues of this life, private or public, it was their unwritten but boldly practiced policy, ‘YOU, FIGURE IT OUT AND DEAL WITH IT…’

I think the issue was with the driver’s license of my now late cousin, Mr. Sola Akinlami, who drove. That experience, which saw my father parting with some Naira notes gave me the impression, rightly or wrongly that the police was a set of kill-joy.

On June 10, 1988 my name appeared in print for the first time when The Punch Newspaper published my letter to the editor. It was my account of how my father was manhandled and robbed of his touch light by a man in military uniform, a soldier right in front of our house in Ondo, No 1, Okedasa Street.

I have since experienced the good, the bad and the ugly in the hands of the Nigerian Police Force and the military.

Needless to say that Nigerian Police Force and the gamut of the Nigerian security apparatus were due for a reform since our so-called independence.

The first agenda on the reform table will be to for our security forces to stop seeing themselves as forces of occupation and suppression of the citizenry, the mentality they inherited from our colonial masters, who architected the present structures and hierarchies of the entire security forces in Nigeria, coupling into their DNA a vibrant spirit of oppression and suppression.

Casting your mind back to your childhood, what was your first encounter with the Nigerian security forces? Was it pleasant or unpleasant? What are the lessons you can share with today’s children and youngsters in guiding their behaviour or actions for change?

Thank you and do have an INSPIRED day.

Taiwo AKINLAMI

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