Posted by News Express | 23 May 2019 | 1,031 times
Umm Sulaim’s morning with the Police commenced poorly and ended brilliantly.
At dawn of Friday, May 17, 2019, Umm Sulaim went to the neighbourhood Police Station to lodge a complaint against Abdallah Muhammad, her landlord, and Sirajo Aliyu, his tenant.
Before noon, another complaint was tabled, against Hausa-Fulani Muslim Police officers.
At approximately 07:30 hours that day, Umm Sulaim called the Control Centre of Sokoto Command of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
She was furious that, despite her complaint to the landlord of the misconduct of his tenant, Abdallah failed to do his duty of maintaining her rights in the premises.
On multiple occasions, Umm Sulaim complained to Abdallah of Sirajo’s insistence on not limiting his activities to his space.
Abdallah’s failure to act spurred Sirajo Aliyu to extend his violations into Umm Sulaim’s space.
Sirajo began to perform his prayers in her space. Umm Sulaim informed Abdallah of that violation and, as usual, there was no improvement.
That Friday morning, Umm Sulaim was furious to see Sirajo praying in her territory, again. This time, she did not bother complaining to the landlord. Rather, she called the Police to report both the landlord and the tenant.
Three years ago, Bridget Agbahime was beaten to death in Kano by Hausa-Fulani Muslims. Her crime was her asking a Muslim performing ablution on her store’s threshold to adjust slightly, so she could display her merchandise.
In essence, Bridget, an Ìgbò woman as is Umm Sulaim, was beaten to death over her own space and for exercising her right over her private territory.
After hearing Umm Sulaim’s complaint, the dispatch officer advised her to visit Arkilla Divisional Police Station to formally lodge a complaint.
The day was still early and the sun had not risen considerably. She agreed to be physically present at the station.
Around 07:45 hours, she departed her residence and strolled to the Police Station, to report the landlord, Abdallah Muhammad, for his failure to stop Sirajo Aliyu, his tenant, from terrorising her with his religion.
On her arrival at the Police Station, the Hausa-Fulani Muslim officers present became an obstruction, while citing their religion.
She came to complain about a civilian not keeping his religion to himself, only for her to be harassed by Police officers who lack the capacity to reserve their religion to self.
One of the officers claimed he had instructions from above to prevent persons wearing a Niqab from entering a Police Station.
“Who is ‘above’?” Umm Sulaim enquired.
Further, she responded that she would unveil in front of female officers.
He insisted she stand aside. She asked him who gave the instruction of women unveiling. He said it is an instruction for Sokoto State.
Sokoto is a part of Nigeria, she replied. She asked him to state his name. When he asked why she wanted his name, she said she wanted to report him and that if he was confident of that instruction, he could freely state his name.
He refused to state his name, saying that as the officer on guard he would not allow her into the station. He said there was no one at the reception.
Umm Sulaim, then, stood aside.
An elder officer approached and asked her what the complaint was. After her explanation, he asked for her husband.
“My husband is not the one with the complaint; I am.” That was her reply.
He left and deliberated with his fellow officers, who invited her to find a comfortable place to sit until other staff arrived. She sat on the platform in front of the Mosque.
Another officer told her they could not attend to her, because the Police Station had no female officers.
He said she should come along with someone whose face they could see before they could attend to her. She asked whether that was a Police regulation.
He said that her unveiling was not contrary to Islamic regulations.
She told him she was not interested in his religion and that she came to the Police Station to lodge a complaint and not to listen to his religious views.
The time had not clocked a half past eight.
The officers, including the elder one and the Command Control Centre officer, in conspiracy refused to attend to Umm Sulaim. They claimed unveiling is a legal and constitutional requirement, an allegation rejected by Umm Sulaim.
They told her to leave.
Unsure whether there were female officers attached to the Police Station, she stood to leave.
She heard a voice call her and she turned to see a woman. She ascertained that her female companion is a Police officer. They discussed and the officer said she would attach Umm Sulaim to another officer, an Individual Police Officer (IPO), who would attend to her complaint.
Umm Sulaim returned to sit on the Mosque platform, but was told to leave by the elder officer.
Without uttering a word, she danced her way to the border fence on which she sat and crossed her legs.
Singing to cheer herself, Umm Sulaim grooved to the lyrics, as she waited for the IPO.
As an assurance, she sent a regular feedback to her contact whom she implored to stay connected should the situation deteriorate.
Moment later, Umm Sulaim was called by her IPO, who took her aside, and she unveiled for the IPO.
The IPO took her complaint and made the necessary arrangements.
The landlord was invited to appear the next evening at 16:00 hours and Umm Sulaim was asked to alert her IPO should the tenant resurface in the compound.
A valid observation is there hardly is any justification for the complainant to be made to be present during the period of interrogation of the suspect or accused.
It is simply a frustration of the justice the complainant seeks.
Once the complainant issues the complaint, the Police ought to take the case forward.
By a quarter past nine o’clock, Umm Sulaim expressed her gratitude to her IPO and the initial female officer, and left the Police Station.
One business was complete; another matter needed attention.
Umm Sulaim considered whether and how to report the harassing officers to their superiors.
While she was at the Police Station, she took the cellphone number of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO).
The DPO’s telephone line was written boldly on the inside wall of the reception hall.
Umm Sulaim dialled the digits to report the behaviour of his officers to her. She narrated the behaviour of his officers.
The DPO, who is on an annual leave, communicated with his department and called her.
The DPO asked her to go back to the Police Station to meet the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) or the Administrative Officer (AO), for correction of the officers’ conduct.
Barely an hour after her return home from the Police Station, Umm Sulaim was on her way there, this time to file an official complaint against certain Police officers.
She was swiftly ushered into the DCO’s office to meet the DCO, whom she found waiting for her. The DCO attended to her complaints against his officers.
Umm Sulaim recounted her experiences at the hands of Hausa-Fulani Muslim Police officers, at the end of which she emphasised: “That Mosque is on a public property. They do not have the right to tell me to leave.”
On her second trip to the Police Station, she met an old female Police friend.
The erring officers were completely silent, this time, having been reprimanded prior to Umm Sulaim’s arrival.
Umm Sulaim appreciates the efforts of the men and women of the Nigeria Police Force.
In particular, she commends the three women officers with whom she interacted that morning.
The female officers deserve a promotion.
Often, we criticise the Police; we need to praise them more.
The three officers were exceptional in their professional conduct.
•Umm Sulaim is the Publisher of Umm Sulaim’s Thoughts (https://iamummsulaim.wordpress.com).
Copyright © 2019 Umm Sulaim. All rights reserved.
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