The recent suspension of the once-celebrated police officer, Abba Kyari, on suspicion of links to an international fraudster, has set off a tidal wave of socio-political debate. Lack of trust in the police was already a widely accepted consensus among Nigerians prior to this latest indictment, owing to many reports of corruption, ineptitude, and impunity. The country is still sour from the nationwide #EndSARS protests against police brutality; even more so from the grim Lekki tollgate shootings that followed. Nowadays, many citizens no longer look to the nation’s security apparatus for protection, but rather pray not to encounter them in their daily dealings.

A major issue with this disastrous Abba Kyari story is that its effects could carry over to the dutiful members of the police service, who are striving to perform their duties despite public backlash. Current officers in the lower cadre are already battling demoralization in the form of low pay, inadequate equipment, and poor working and living conditions. How are they expected to fight the good fight with looming threats of secessionism, terrorism, banditry, and political infighting? To get the full picture, a spotlight needs to be shone on the challenges these officers face as well.

Take for example CSP Francis Erhabor, an exceptional police officer who was awarded Accountability Lab’s Integrity Icon award in 2019 for his outstanding honesty and bravery in over 20 years of service. As a divisional head in Akwa Ibom, CSP Francis turned down numerous bribes amounting to over 25 million naira. Instead, he chose to work tirelessly with the community to ensure peace and security. In fact, his hard work led to him being awarded an ICPC award by President Muhammadu Buhari himself. One would expect that the good officer is given the opportunity to serve in a higher capacity; to translate his personal integrity to broader institutional integrity.

Originally published in BONews