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9 Jun 2018

We may look tough in uniform but we’re soft at heart - Policewomen express their feeling

Soft spoken and elegant Tomilola Adekunle grew up in Lagos metropolis. Her parents invested a lot in her secondary school education; they always told her consistently about how they wanted her to be a medical doctor. But the then fifteen years old already found a mentor in her mother’s younger sister who was a police woman.

She would always admire how neatly and modest her aunt looked in her uniform when she was going to work. “Anytime I woke up in the morning and I saw my aunt dressing up for work, I used to say to myself that I must be a police woman; her uniform was always neat and perfect on her body. She was a very assertive and focused career woman and I admired everything about her a lot. In fact, I just loved the aura that came with being a police woman,” she told Saturday Punch with a mild smile on her face.

With a blend of disappointment and hope written over her face, she further shared some of the negative things she always hears people say about the profession. “The police uniform comes with authority and poise; when I am in uniform, nobody can talk carelessly around me; especially in commercial buses. But anytime I am not in my uniform, I hear people say derogatory things about the force and it saddens my heart. As police women, people have diverse negative assumptions about us and these assumptions have become stereotypes,” she narrated.

Sharing one of her experiences on the job, Adekunle shared how she lost a relationship when she was in the university after the guy discovered she was a police officer.

 “While I was in the university, I was in a relationship with a classmate of mine; our relationship was so interesting and lovely that we were the envy of our classmates. I’d always cook for him, wash his clothes and clean his house weekly. But as the relationship progressed, I started asking him detailed questions about himself; at some point he complained that I was too inquisitive and he was no longer comfortable with me because of my quest to know him more,” she said as she shook her head. It was at this point that she noticed that her ex-boyfriend had something to hide; she felt betrayed and deeply hurt but the relationship had to go sour. The pretty young officer said she had to be inquisitive when it comes to whoever she wants to be in a relationship with because police women are trained to choose their partners wisely to avoid being entangled with someone that is a criminal or has a criminal record.

 “As a police woman, I have to be very careful before I enter into any relationship because if the man is involved in any illegitimate deal, it can serve as a threat to my job,” she told Saturday PUNCH.

According to the Oyo State born lady, some civilians who are into shady deals want to be in a relationship with police women just to serve as a form of protection for them. “Some civilians who are involved in fraud also want to date police women so that they will appear innocent in the eyes of the society. They have this general belief that if they date police women, they will serve as a huge wall around them to protect them from the eyes of anti-criminal agencies. More also, some of them want to date police women just to know our secrets,” she revealed.

She further disclosed that she had met some men in the past that always gave some flimsy excuses as the reasons why they could not date and marry a police woman. “Some of the men I met in the past always complained that they could not date a uniform woman because they don’t obey and always appear domineering” she said with a sigh.

Tomilola, who is now in a relationship with her colleague, a police officer, said she chose to be with him because of the way civilians treated her in past relationships.

“Some civilians just want to take advantage of us; some of them are opportunists,” she added. The calm police officer feels that dating a police officer is better for her because it just feels like dating a family member that knows and understands her better and is accustomed with her job ethics.

Unlike Tomilola who is still single, Sergeant Benita Agwu is a trophy wife in the heart of her husband, a very successful business man. Her husband handles her with care and practically worships the ground she walks on. The light skinned and naturally beautiful officer in the public relations department of the Lagos State command did not mince words when she was speaking to our correspondent about how her husband dotes on her.

 “My husband is my number one supporter in this life, since I met and married him, he has been extraordinarily supportive, he tells everybody that cares to listen that his wife is a police officer. In fact, I am a gold medal in the eyes of my husband,” she said as she showed our correspondent pictures of herself in her uniform on his social media platforms.

SGT Benny (as she is fondly called in the office) expressed how surprised and disappointed she feels anytime she hears some of the misconceptions that people have about their profession. “The funny thing is that most of our policemen love to marry their female colleagues, and vice versa. The reason is not because we don’t get attention from civilians, the reason is that when a police woman marries her colleague, they understand each other better because the man understands the nature of the job when it comes to night shifts and other peculiar things that come with being a police officer,” she said emphatically. She also added that being a police officer even makes her more responsible in her home as she has enough time to cook different delicacies for her husband.

However, SGT Benita has had to deal with comments from her husband’s friends and business associates when he tells them he is married to a police officer.

 “Anytime my husband tells some of his friends that he is married to a police woman, they are always shocked and the next question they ask him is how he copes with me in the house. Many of them always tell him that they can never marry a police woman because they feel uniform women cannot be submissive,” she told Saturday PUNCH.

The moment Constable Naomi Ogundele informed her boyfriend that she was a police woman, he was beyond shocked. She revealed the nature of her job to him after four months into the relationship. “When I started dating my boyfriend, he didn’t know I was a police woman, but like every normal girl that wants a serious relationship with a goal, I was observing and watching his attitude. I wanted to be sure that he was someone I could build something serious with; so when I was sure he was really in love with me, I decided to reveal to him that I’m a policewoman. Immediately I told him, he exclaimed with his eyes wide open; he couldn’t believe his ears,” she said as she laughed and described how shocked he was with her facial expressions.

 The news of Naomi’s job was not a turn off to her lover. He was only shocked that she was strong enough to do that type of job.

Naomi who is in her mid twenties wears her uniform with pride every morning and always feels fulfilled because she is pursuing her dreams. She cannot even imagine herself in any other profession. Speaking on how the character of a woman is basically determined by her upbringing not by her profession, Naomi further told our correspondent that a lot of people just judge police women based on stereotypes. “It is painful that people judge us based on their perception and a lot of times their perception is always wrong. For example, some people think a police woman can never be submissive or will be a dictator in her home. But it is not true because police women run their homes with care because they know that if they misbehave, their husbands can always report them to their boss and this will have a negative effect on their job,” she added.

SGT Faith Okoli, a young officer in her mid twenties is helplessly romantic. Her outward appearance looks fierce but the nature and texture of her heart is the opposite of her outward appearance.

 “Being a police officer for me is a dream come true. After I left secondary school, anytime I watched police officers on TV during their ceremonial events, their uniformity endeared me towards the profession” she told Saturday PUNCH. Although Faith’s mother was not in support of her decision to become a police officer because her mother felt the job was too hard and difficult for a woman, eventually she had no choice but to dance to her daughter’s tune. When interacting with Faithy as she is fondly called by her colleagues, you have to apply the saying that goes: “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Describing how deep she falls in love, the political science graduate from Delta State University said, “ I am always careful before I go into any relationship because my heart is very tender and fragile. If I detect anything funny in a relationship, I actually make efforts to amend them, but if they are beyond repair, I move on with my life. I don’t play games when it comes to my heart,” she told our correspondent as she adjusted her hair and packed it neatly into a bun.

As a graduate and a political scientist, Faith is also very industrious as she combines photography and cooking as a hobby that she does on the side to enjoy her social life. “Behind my face that looks disciplined and strict, I love listening to romantic songs to my bones, it is just that you know how guys can be; they always want to take advantage of a soft lady. But I’m still hoping and praying to God that I find my missing rib soon,” Faith who is still single, said.

Police Constable (PC) Tejiri Edojah is the perfect description of a Daddy’s girl. Her father was a senior officer in the police force before he died. All she has ever wanted to become in life was to be a police officer. She admired the job and all the qualities that came with it; she had this perfect picture in her head of how she would grow up to always wear the police uniform to work every day.

“My father was a senior police officer before he died. As a young girl, I used to follow him to the office during my school holidays. I enjoyed the environment, loved and admired everything about the job,” she said.

Even though she was discouraged by her mother when she wanted to obtain the form to begin her career as a police officer, she knew what she wanted. Her mother was not in support of her decision to become a police officer because of the stigma attached to the job; especially female police officers in Nigeria.

 “My Mum used to discourage me about being a police officer; she didn’t understand the reason why I wanted to step into the shoes of my late father. However, she made sure that after I finished secondary school, I went to the university to get a degree, because she felt I was too young to join the police force immediately after finishing secondary school,” she added.

Refuting the misconception that civilians try to avoid dating or marrying uniform women, Tejiri elucidated that police women are the best set of females in the world to fall in love with because it is very easy for them to submit to a man; because they are already used to living a disciplined life. However, she also narrated to our correspondent how one of her male friends was intimidated by her job at some point in their relationship. “One of my male friends actually opened up to me one day when he told me that he wanted to stop being friends with me; he said he was scared to hang out with me because I work with the force. His fear was that he felt hanging out with me every time would make it seem like he is walking on egg shells. It is very funny how our uniform scares some men away,” she said as she laughed hysterically.

“You see, what people don’t know is that police women are the sweetest women you can ever fall in love with; we won’t stress you because we know the best way to handle our homes; we handle several cases of people that have issues with their spouses from quarrels to domestic violence amongst others, so we know the best way to avoid such occurrences from happening to us,” she added.

Pretty and delectable Tejiri is very certain of the love her fiancée has for her. He supports her choice of job and is more bothered about her happiness.  “When I told my fiancé that I was interested in joining the police force, he was very surprised; he asked me several times if I was sure of my decision and I told him that if other women could do it, then I could. He has been very supportive; I was so impressed when he said I should inform him when the form was out. He obtained the form for me and filled it in my absence while I was still doing my youth service,” the pretty police officer said with a smile on her cheeks. The PC however stated that one major challenge she is facing with her engagement to her fiancé is the fact that his younger sister doesn’t like policewomen. “I think my fiancé’s sister has her reservations about the fact that her elder brother wants to get married to a uniform woman, I just feel it’s one of those misconceptions that people generally have towards our profession,” she said with a mild smile on her face.  Tejiri has huge prospects as a young police officer; she is very hopeful that very soon, she will climb the next step in the ladder of her career.

Very attractive and beautiful, Tejiri always looks stunning in her outfit; she affirmed this when she was sharing with our correspondent how guys always flock around her anytime she is in uniform. “Guys are actually attracted to me anytime they see me in my uniform compared to when I wear other clothes. In fact, just a few days ago, a guy approached me in Ikeja. He was stunned as to how my uniform fits me perfectly. He told me I look very cute and petit in my uniform. We exchanged contacts and since then, he has been asking me out on a date, but because I am already in a committed relationship, I told him to give me space,” she said with a big grin on her face.

SP Chike Oti, the PPRO of the Lagos State police command, described police women as very accountable and trustworthy.

 “You will never hear that a police woman was caught hitting her husband or having a broken home. There are very rare cases like that. Our women are our treasure on this job; we are very particular of the kind of men they marry. They are well trained and disciplined. You can always predict the movement of a police woman. If she says she is going for a night duty, her husband is hundred per cent sure that she is in the office because there will be a proof that she has logged in at work,” he told Saturday PUNCH.

Speaking from her wealth of experience as a psychologist, Mrs. Funmi Adegoke, was of the opinion that women in uniform usually appear tough and that may be the reason why some men may feel intimidated by them. “I actually feel it is a thing of the mind, some people just have this mindset that people that work with the force are hardened. But their assumptions may be wrong until you get to meet someone and know their personality well. It is not proper to judge people in uniform based on their appearance,” she told Saturday PUNCH.

In the same vein, Oladeinde-Martins Oyinlola, a relationship expert shared her perspective on why men may feel intimidated by police women. “I think it has to do with their personality; a lot of them always wear a fierce look but when you actually move closer to them, you will realise that they are very pleasant people to relate with. They should actually be conscious of the fact that it is their appearance that attracts people to them first before they get to know them for who they are,” she said.

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