The obnoxious trend of suspected felons escaping from detention before their trial or from prisons across the country after conviction has, no doubt, become a serious cause for concern. This becomes precarious with the recent escape from the custody of the criminal investigation department of the Rivers State police command, of Ifeanyi Dike, a 24 year old man who raped, killed and dismembered an 8- year old girl in Eliozu community, in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. While public outcry trailed the heinous crime by the 200-level student of the University of Port Harcourt, who confessed to have committed the dastardly act for ritual purposes, his escape became one too many of the alarming gaffes of the Nigeria Police.
Not only did his crime expose the acclaimed visible policing strategy of the Nigeria Police as a farce, it went further in extenuating public distaste for the police as an institution that was far below its game. The abscondment from the heavily guarded SCID detention cells, of all places, casts the police as an unserious, lethargic and sick institution that is far removed from the realities of crime fighting and its multifarious implications on society. That policemen could allow a felon like Dike escape indicates the Nigeria Police's obvious disconnect from the pains, anguish and heart-wrenching agony of the parents, nay the entire family of the murdered girl, the Eliozu community and society as a whole and the force's sheer cold-hearted approach to the incident.
There are stories of the felon offering the vigilante that apprehended him about N800,000 to release him and their refusal. He was said to have been handed over to the police with insinuations that the police might have collected the said money offered by Dike and allowed him to escape after the father of his victim refused to avail them 'mobilisation fee to aid investigation' allegedly demanded from him by the police. The truth or otherwise of these would depend on what the police will do with the case in the coming days. However, public perception may tend towards believing there might have been some under-the-table dealings between the alleged killer and the police, especially given the track record of bribery incidents involving the police in Nigeria.
The Inspector General of Police, Idris Abubakar, the Rivers State commissioner of police, Zaki Ahmed, and their men would do themselves a world of good by hastily re-arresting Dike and ensuring justice takes its full course in the matter of the heartless, senseless and gruesome murder of the innocent girl. This becomes imperative as the image of the police in Nigeria is lying helpless in the gutter of public perception already.
That this heinous crime could be committed and that it took the efforts of a local vigilante to apprehend the criminal and that the said criminal could escape from the hands of the police demonstrate the height of vulnerability of the girl child in Nigeria. Obviously, the safety and security of the girl child in this country remains non-existent. And those parents, guardians and other members of the society who revel in the illusion of security for their female children and wards must have a rethink. The statistics of rape, abuse, and kidnap of young girls and even women continues to skyrocket. And this is a warning for all to raise the ante of vigilance for the female children around them.
It can be said with all sense of exactitude that the police and other security agencies have failed in their duty to mainstream and prioritise the security of the vulnerable members of the society especially the girl child. The average policeman at a checkpoint would rather focus on his 'roger', 'egunje' or 'something,' than ask questions about females ensconced in-between men in a vehicle. This porous nature of security checkpoints across the country has enhanced the proliferation of trafficking in persons especially women and girls. Most of the women and girls illegally trafficked have become victims of prostitution rings, baby factories, forced labour and ritualists.
Should the police continue in this trajectory of failure in its statutory responsibilities of safeguarding the lives and property of citizens, especially women and girls, the resultant effect would be mind-boggling as it could degenerate to a state of anarchy where everyone would take a stand for himself. Jungle justice would become the order of the day and even the police themselves could become victims of their own negligence as they could be dispossessed of their weapons which would in turn be used for nefarious crimes. The time for the Nigeria Police to awake from its perfidious stupor and take its stand against crime is now.