The Federal Government on Friday called on Nigerians to empathise with and appreciate personnel of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies instead of victimising them.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the call while meeting with Title Editors of Nigerian newspapers in Lagos, also urged the public to resist the temptation to tar all officers with the same brush.
“Today, many of them are even afraid to wear their uniforms and the result has not been pleasant, in terms of security of life and property.
“I want to remind all of us of the saying that a society that makes war against its police had better learnt to make friends with its criminals,” he said.
The minister recalled that six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed across the country during the crisis.
He said that while 196 policemen were injured, 164 police vehicles were destroyed, with 134 police stations burnt.
Mohammed added that the violence left 57 civilians dead, 269 private/corporate facilities burnt/looted/vandalised, 243 government facilities burnt/vandalised and 81 government warehouses looted.
In addition to the killing of security agents, Mohammed said eight medium security custodial centres in six states – Edo, Lagos, Abia, Delta, Ondo and Ebonyi were attacked.
The attacks, he said, led to 1,957 inmates, mostly dangerous criminals, being set free.
He said that with the burning of police stations by hoodlums, over 100 AK-47 rifles were stolen.
The minister, however, said that the media and civil society groups paid less attention to the barbaric and gruesome killings of security agents by hoodlums during the crisis.
“While everyone was fixated on the fake massacre at Lekki Toll Gate, a few paid attention to the way and manner policemen and soldiers were killed.
“In particular, policemen were hacked down in the most gruesome manner that calls into question the sanity of their killers.
“Yet, these security agents were treated as sub-humans,” he said.
Mohammed noted that no life was more important than the other, adding that respect for human rights should not be selective.
He, however, commended state governments that had taken bold steps to shore up the morale of the police.