Crime Focus

“Wetin You Carry Syndrome”


With Saliu Mohammed Woru

Some days ago, I was made the Master of Ceremony (MC), during the wedding service of a bosom friend. As I stepped forward to announce the commencement of event for the day, an apparently excited member of the audience jokingly snapped, “Oga former PRO, wetin you carry”? Perplexed, I quickly replied him I am holding the microphone now”. The whole hall went wild with laughter.

Accordingly, back home after the ceremony, I took time to ponder over the implication of this “wetin you carry” syndrome in the Police-public relationship. I later came to the conclusion that some members of the public are to a large extent ignorant of the power and duties of the police. Some that are aware of these powers are either too biased or subjective to the extent that they fail to accept the true essence of this police question.

The Nigerian Police, like other police forces worldwide, have the power to stop and search any suspect at any given time and place. This measure is intended to check the activities of criminals and possibly, reduce crime rate. It is also intended to recover valuable exhibits that had been used or is about to be used in committing a crime or any incriminating materials that has been declared illegal for private consumption by the law of the land.

For the purpose of this, it becomes imperative that when a policeman has any reason to suspect you either at road blocks, in the street or any other place, the ideal thing which is usually done worldwide, is for him to walk up courteously to you, stop you, identify himself and tell you his mission. Since it would be immodest for a policeman to just start searching you, it is expected that you first identify the things you have in your possession. Thus, the question “what are you carrying”.

In the Nigerian context, most policemen would ask you” wetin you carry” in Pidgin English. The idea of using Pidgin English has since become part and parcel of the Nigerian Society and policemen, who by virtue of their job, relate more with members of the society (both the literates and illiterates) usually prefer to communicate in Pidgin English to meet the interest of the semi-illiterates and the illiterate ones.

The idea of “wetin you carry” therefore is not intended to harass innocent and law abiding citizens of this country. Rather, it is meant to protect them against the evil machinations of the criminals amongst us.

In every organisation however, bad eggs abound. The few bad eggs within the force who prefer to unnecessarily harass innocent people and extort favours from them are, to a large extent perhaps responsible for upturning the real meaning and intentions of this question.

It is necessary to therefore, re-assure the members of the public that the police authorities are doing everything possible to guard against the abuse of power and corruption in the force.

It is in furtherance of this that road blocks were cancelled while erring policemen are usually punished accordingly. The police force however, needs the unflinching co-operation, support and understanding of good and law-abiding citizens in order to perform better.

This support can be in form of giving useful information to the police, pertaining to nefarious activities of the men of the underworld who has been terrorising innocent citizens.

Informants are allowed to give information to the police through phone call or other means. The police also like to receive information direct from the informant at the police station if informants choose to do so. However whatever the information given to the police should be treated with absolute anonymity.

Informants are advised not to engage in loose talk either before or after giving information to the police as some are wont to do because it is dangerous.

To be continued next week

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