The International Writers Magazine: Africa
If I were to be the new Inspector-General of the Nigerian Police Force
Adewale T Akande
First of all, I will thank the almighty God for helping me to reach the highest level of my career and also thank the Presidency and the entire Nigerians for giving me this opportunity to serve as the 16th Inspector-General of Police of the most populous black nation of the world since the appointment of the first indigenous Inspector-General of Police in 1964 in person of late Mr.Louis Orok Edet. I am aware of the task ahead of me to be the I-G of a nation which characterized by diversities and contradictions arising from population heterogeneity, urbanization, industrialization and conflicting ideologies on religion, socio-political and economic sectors. A country that is seriously and urgently in demand of the minimum elements of democratic policing which include accountability, efficiency, equality and justice.
The situation in Nigeria now is so serious that the conventional ways of doing things can no longer solve our problems judging by the fact of the numerous police Inspectors General we have had since independence (fifty-one year ago) and the image, trust and reputation of the police which have been soiled by the “bad eggs”. I will like to re-write the history of Nigeria Police force by making self-sacrifice, take personal risks, not minding stepping on “bad toes”(as done by Nuhu Ribadu) and will be ready to lay down my life for the nation in order to create a new Nigerian Police force with patriotism, integrity, confidence and trust. Uniformed police officers are a visible part of every community. I will create a police force with attitudinal powers to relate with the people thereby making them to play important roles in sustenance of order, legality, development and democracy and not the present 20 naira notes beggars in uniform.
The establishment, organisation, control, command and management of the Nigeria Police Force are governed by a colonial legislation (Police Act. CAP 359 of the Laws of the federation of Nigeria 1990) and the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, section 4 of the Police Act provides that “The police shall be employed for the prevention and detention of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are charged and shall perform such military duties within and without Nigeria as may be required….”
The vision of the Nigeria police is “making the country safer and secured for the attainment of national aspiration” and the mission is “to deliver qualitative and efficient security and law enforcement services to the citizens of Nigeria.” Police work involves a variety of tasks and responsibilities which involve a lot of self -discipline, patriotism, dedication and hard-work to prevent crime, manage crises and practice their skills. As rightly said by Chinua Achebe in from (The Trouble With Nigeria ) “Leaders are in the language of psychologists role models. People look up to them and copy their actions, behaviours and even mannerisms. Therefore, if a leader lacks discipline, the effect is apt to spread automatically down to the followers.” Also one of the world most outstanding actors Clint Eastwood once said: “It takes tremendous discipline to control the influence, the power you have over other people’s lives.”
Frankly speaking, we have been witnessing a contrary motive of the establishing police force in the last two decades. It is not an exaggeration that there is a widespread abuse and corruption in the force to the extent of acquired the reputation of the most corrupt public institution in the country. The inefficiency of the Police force regarding maintenance of law and order became obvious with the widespread terrorism, kidnappings, institutionalised bribery, extra-judicial killings, unwarranted searches, recurrent waves of brutalities, election malpractices, torture, harassment and loss of personal liberties, frequent armed robbery involving the use of sophisticated weapons, and high casualty just recorded from the previous communal and ethno-religious conflicts that spread across the country.
Most recently, the Human Rights Watch researcher, Eric Guttschuss in his recent research work on Nigeria police titled “Everyone is in the game" levelled a shocking allegations that - "innocent people are regularly detained and a fee demanded for their release… the rank-and-file police officers are often forced to pay their senior officers a share of the money extort from the public… people who are assigned to lucrative posts such as roadblocks or working traffic are given monetary targets that they must meet and give back to their superiors… officers who did not meet those monetary targets, they would be punished with a transfer to a less lucrative post.” All these allegations will be looked into critically.
My first agenda is to face squarely the issue of bribe and corruption among police officers. I will make a follow-up of what the Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Wasiri said in Makurdi recently on the federal government consideration to increase the salaries and allowances of officers and men of the Nigerian Police and also to embark on massive facelift and rehabilitation of all police barracks and offices across the country. After this is in progress, I will make a live broadcast (in both radio and television) to announce abolishing of all road blocks and check points throughout the country and that no police officer must receive or extort from any motorist henceforth. All police vehicles will now be used for detaining, patrolling and transporting instead of mounting an illegal road-block.
Fines and any legal transaction of money involving public must be paid to the police accredited or designated banks with appropriate receipts. Any police office taking bribe either at police station or on the road will be summarily dismissed with his or her name and pictures appearing on national dailies, police websites and that person will never be eligible to be voted for in any federal or state government elections. I will seek the cooperation of all members of public and implore them to make necessary voice and photograph recording of any policeman in the act and send it with necessary details to the new Police Force Watch Box to be placed in all federal post offices throughout the country.
Moreover, as crime prevention is a major concern in Nigeria, my second agenda is equipping the police force with modern technologies in sophisticated arms to match with any armed-robbery bandit in the world. I will make sure that only the specialists unit of the police are allowed to carry firearms. Provision will be made for non-lethal weaponry, particular for riot controls which include batons, rubber bullets, electroshock weapons, more handcuffs to restrain suspects, whistles, flash-lights, police notebooks and citations otherwise known as ticket-books. I will provide more new patrol vehicles to all stations and introduce the use of special motorcycles which will now be used to control potential public and escort duties-two police riders at a time. I will double our efforts in the use of specially trained dogs for detecting illegal drugs or substances and also in tracking down of criminals fleeing on foot. All these patrol vehicles will be marked with appropriate police logos, and well equipped with sirens and light-bars to aid in making others aware of police presence.
Meanwhile, as modern police forces throughout the world make extensive use of radio communication equipment, this will be carried both in the person and installed on all police patrol vehicles. Effective crime and operational information management will be institutionalised with good storage and retrieval facilities. I will make it a point of duty or delegate my public relations officer to make press briefing every fortnightly and frequent publication of criminal statistics will be given to public every day. No Police officer should be on duty without walkie-talkie or handie talkie (two-way radio transceiver). Communications will be highly organised with wireless equipment while network of telephones extends to all police stations in the country. This will help officers to coordinate their work, share information and get help quickly. I will change the current Police Emergency numbers (08032003913, 08061581938, 07057337653) to only three digit number like 055 or 777 to make people to remember and dial within a second.
This number will be free of charge with twenty-four hours service to be manned by diligent operators. In order to achieve our goal of reducing crime rates with communication and information dissemination, I will liase with the presidency to make national identity card free and compulsory for all living souls in Nigeria and abroad (through Nigerian embassies oversea), computerization of vehicles and cycles plate numbers, and speed-up to complete the exercises of the accreditation of mobile telephones subscribers in Nigeria (Globacom, Etisalat, Multilinks, Starcomms, Zain, etc) to have authentic personal data of all their customers who bought telephone lines from them all on or before 31st of December this year. To curb the waves of increasing crime in this country, everybody must be involved; everybody must have identity, including all foreigners to be issued with resident and working permit respectively. This method is now in use in developed and developing countries of the world. Apart from making the job of policing very easy for identification and investigation, it will serve the objectives which population census is meant for. The country needs to know the numbers of people catering for. People’s identification will help in use for criminal background checks in persons of interest to be completed in just matter of seconds, even, on all police patrol vehicles.
Bureaucratically, in my strong effort to improve police manpower both in terms of quality and quantity, I will make all effort to build a disciplined, trusted and professional police force. This fourth agenda is to emphasis on in-service training and professional recruitment to make the police more accessible to the concern of the society under the law of the land. I will establish a non-partisan police board to manage the affairs of recruitments and promotions on strict merit, recognition and reward for outstanding performances and promotions. As a lover of sport, the will force will be given open recruitment for those outstanding Nigerian sportsmen and women. We will give them support to the greater heights as it was done in the olden good days. I will make sure that Police force soccer team features in the professional league division one and some of our outstanding youth soccer academy players will take the place of those “forty-something years” average-age Eagles sent to South Africa world –cup. Nigeria is the most blessed country with talents in Africa. Lest I forget, after the short courses, I will start the national rotating of officers from state to state to protect Nigerian citizens and see to the end of this inhuman terrorism. This new salary increment will attract qualified officers for forensic science laboratories which will be staffed with more experts and professionals in biology, pathology, physics, zoology, microscopy and photography. Concerted efforts will be made to rehabilitate and equip (both in human and materials) all Police colleges in Orji River, Maiduguri, Kaduna, and Ikeja respectively. The same thing will be done to the Police Mobile Force Training School in Guzuo, south-western of Abuja, the Police Detective College at Enugu, the Police Dogs Service Training Centre and the Mounted Training Centre.
My fifth agenda will be launching of an Independent Police Complaint Commission as they have in the United Kingdom to act as checks and balances (Ombudsman) to the activities of the Nigeria Police Force. This is a separate body or organisation outside the police force that will be dedicated to investigating crimes committed by the police themselves. This body would be responsible for investigating circumstances involving police and civilians that resulted in serious injury, allegations of sexual assaults and death. This commission will receive vital information and tips from the general public on crime without fear, intimidation and anonymity if needed. This Independent Police Complaints Commission will only have access to the keys for all the Police Force Watch Boxes placed at all the government post-offices throughout the country. All people found with irregularities on information given will be prosecuted by the law court with dispatch.
Lastly, I will now increase the Police detectives to make up roughly 15-25 percentages of the police service personnel. I will assign the police detectives department to despatch out “plainclothes” officers to all states of federation to start now to investigate on crimes, terrorism hide-out and election malpractices. Terrorists, kidnappers, and armed robbers does not live in isolation. They live with us and we must “fish” them out and be prosecuted. Personally, I do not like the present black police uniform at all, as there is not time for changing now because of the present situation of the country, I will make sure this uniform is changed later and change the name Nigeria Police Force to Nigerian Police Service. I will make sure that before I leave as the Inspector-General of Police, all living souls would have restored their confidence and trust in the Nigeria Police force again. All individuals will be treated fairly, with their rights respected making them sufficient to feel safe in their community and regard police as patriotic agent of government and a friend indeed.
God bless Republic of Nigeria.
© Adewale T Akande, an Author and Road Safety Traffic Consultant