Sunday Erhabor, the police officer in Lagos, who is being widely commended for remaining calm in the face of provocation and assault, said his colleagues have told him that he is too patient as a policeman.
Erhabor, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) attached to the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos Police Command, disclosed this in an interview.
The police officer has been widely celebrated after a video -which has now gone viral- emerged on social media, showing him attempting to arrest one Victor Ebhomenyen for driving against the traffic, but was assaulted and inflicted with severe bodily injuries.
Erhabor’s conduct led to commendation from different quarters, with some Nigerians applauding him on social media while others have contributed over N500,000 for him as of Monday evening.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, also hailed Erhabor, gave him a “Governorship Handshake” also presented a state plaque to him as a mark of honour to appreciate his commitment to promoting core values of modern policing.
Speaking on his attitude to work as a policeman, Erhabor, who joined the force on June 1, 1992, said even though his colleagues tease him about being too patient, he treats all citizens he encounters on the job as nicely as he can because he has children or younger siblings who also face the same life experiences like other Nigerians.
He stated that he is also calm on the job because he is gradually getting old, noting that he only has five more years before his retirement from the force.
“I have received so many comments from my colleagues. They say I am too patient. But I do tell them that age is already telling on me and I have no reason to be angry when I have children like the everyday person I encounter on the job. So, I treat everyone like my child or my younger siblings,” Erhabor told the Punch.
Recounting the incident of 17 April, which has made him famous, the officer explained that he used the police vehicle to block Ebhomenyen after he purportedly drove ‘one way’, but the reported offender challenged him for doing his job.
According to him, Ebhomenyen threatened him by reminding him of the outcome of police officers during the #EndSARS movement and then subsequently assaulted him by pushing him out of the vehicle.
The father of three stated that despite the assault on him, he directed his fellow officers not to touch Ebhomenyen, but instead record the incident on camera.
He said: “I was in the car when I blocked the guy. He even flashed me to get out of the way. I asked him, ‘Sir, do you know you are on ‘one way’?’ He replied and said, ‘And then? Is that why you are blocking me?’ I knew from that moment that he was going to foment trouble. My boys came down from our vehicle but I told them to withdraw immediately because something was wrong with the man.
“The next thing was that the man opened the door furiously and pushed me to get out of his way. He was saying, ‘Have you forgotten #EndSARS?’ And I was surprised. So, I told my boys to video the man. I also told them that nobody should touch the man because something was wrong with him and he shouldn’t allow him die in our hands.”
The ASP, who said he has never shot anyone since he joined the police, said he did not use his gun as a form of defence against the traffic offender because it was not a criminal issue, rather it was a civil matter.
“I can’t resort to the use of my gun just because somebody slapped me. If I did, in the end, my punishment would be worse than that of the person that slapped or harassed me,” he said.