Olaitan Oyerinde’s abrupt death at the hands of the wicked murderers is tragic and heartbreaking. We all wish we could undo what had happened and bring him back because to those of us that knew this very great mind and intellect, the world is a lesser place without Olaitan in it.
Indeed, the last time we met in Lagos, he told me of his plans to return to the Nigerian Labor Congress after the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo State. He said it was only after the elections that the comrade Governor could release him if at all he would approve of his exit plans. It was as if Olaitan had the premonition of this sordid act even though, from our discussion, he seemed to be very concerned with what he perceived as a very serious leadership crisis at the secretariat of the NLC at the time.
The level of violence Nigeria continues to witness is alarming and unacceptable. The Country is fast growing into a state where the government cannot even perform the minimum task of a state, being unable to control unruly elements and offer citizens a modicum of security and protection. However, the criminal justice system in totality; the courts, the police, the prisons system and the politicians should take the blame for the spate of violence, even though, the Police must take the greater share of the blame. This is because the Police represent the most visible institution in the criminal justice system. The police represent the bridge between law and order and anarchy and where the police institution or law enforcement is weak, anarchy will infect the society like a plague. When the criminal justice system has sacred cows, the untouchables, a mafia-like society will emerge. In Nigeria today, it is a fact that the Police have been limited in their investigative ability and arrest powers due to political interference and considerations which have in turn, tie the hands of law and order.
The police, being the agency established by the constitution to protect lives and property must resist political pressure and take better anti-crime measures. Political assassinations will continue unabated as long as previous cases remain unsolved. People will always have the tendency to be lured into crime either for the sake of money or power, but if we have an effective criminal justice system, the temptation can be greatly reduced. But because criminals have little or nothing to fear from the state, its elements ignore state power and its machinery; hence, there is a gradual collapse of law and order even as the state has demonstrated helplessness in dealing with the spate of violence. The police must therefore, live up to expectations, avoid political pressure and respond to our demand and clarion call that they apprehend and prosecute criminals, no matter how highly placed. Punishment is still the basic response to crime even though; there is no conclusive evidence that punishment does deter crime.
This is a time when efforts should be geared towards ensuring internal security in the country, but we have too many vows and assurances without any discernible measures for the protection of lives and property.
I wish I had words that could make our pains at this time less, but I call on the Nigeria Police not to treat Olaitan’s murder as yet another case of unsolved murder in Nigeria. Finally, my thoughts and prayers go to his immediate family as they grieve the loss of their beloved son, husband, father and bread winner.