The recent spate of extra-judicial killings and kidnappings have been happening at a constancy that is scary and a rate that is outrightly alarming.
Parents are losing their precious children from the hands of uncontrolled, trigger-happy, Police officers who have domiciled the roads, and are causing a nuisance to the peace and tranquility of the society; a bitter twist of fate, and reversal of the norm.
Are the Police not established to protect lives and property? And in situations culprits of certain offenses are caught, should prosecute? All these are not facts far away from the knowledge of the Police. Many are lying behind bars helplessly, not sentenced nor prosecuted, causing congestion and an unhealthy environment in the prisons.
These days, it’s hard to see a week go without reports of extra-judicial killing. The people are furious, the average Nigerian walks with his heart in his legs, ready to run when the Police come. Some of those that didn’t run have not returned to tell the story.
This total lack of professionalism by some Policemen has sparked a reaction from the authorities. While this is a welcome development and a move that shows that the hierarchy of the force is worried about its image and the negative vibes it is giving to the public, the question hangs on the ability of this to be strictly followed, its implication and even most importantly, its efficacy.
ALEDEH reported that the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed revealed that the shift structure of the force will be changed from a 12-hour system to an 8-hour system to reduce exhaustion. It is believed that Police officers who are tired may be careless in the discharge of their duties, leading to impatience and a resultant pulling of the trigger. The truth remains, there is absolutely no situation that should ever warrant an officer shooting an innocent citizen.
In the report, Adamu ordered that the shift duty structure of the Nigeria Police, which is currently a 12-hour, two -shift system should be reverted to the traditional eight-hours, three-shifts shift standard.
Adamu said the medical service of the police had also been directed to introduce emotional intelligence, stress management and cognitive therapy toward enhancing the psychological and emotional stability of all police personnel while on duty.
Also, in a bid to stop extra-judicial killings by the Police, IGP Adamu said stun guns will replace lethal weapons.
He said; “Toward this end, we are in the process of migrating from total dependence on lethal weaponry as the first line of police operations toward acquiring and deploying less lethal weaponry such as taser or stun guns.
“Under the new policy, personnel on low-risk policing duties like routine patrols, arrest duties, and civil disorder management will be armed with taser guns or stun guns as a strategic approach toward reducing incidents of fatalities associated with misapplication of lethal weapons by the police when faced with low-level threats,’’ he said.
While this is a welcome development, it is not the ultimate solution quite yet. Is justice being served to those who engage in these extra-judicial killings? Where are the killers of Kolade Johnson and other unfortunate victims of Police brutality? To foster a better citizen approach to Policing in the country, the people must be carried along. The man who drives in his vehicle wants to be sure he is safe. The young man who is on his way to school must be sure that using an expensive smartphone does not make him a criminal. Beyond stun guns and a restructuring of the shift system, there are more that will help the growth of the Police and drive better performance and citizens’ trust. All hands must be on deck.
In an interview with the Punch Newspapers on Sunday, former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase weighed in on what he believes can help the NPF to perform better. Arase blamed the Police for late or non-prosecution of alleged offenders. He explained how he established the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the police and how it has progressively been off the mark since he left the scene.
”I blame the police. They have not been able to manage the arrests and prosecution together. I set up the IRT; it was supposed to be the operational wing utilizing the intelligence from the technical platform. When the IRT converted from an operational body to an investigation agency for which they probably did not possess the required qualifications to handle, their cases were always truncated along the line. There must be a body of investigators trained to elicit further information from suspects arrested by the IRT. The IRT was not meant to be an end product the way it was structured. It was structured as a high profile, highly mobile team that could utilize intelligence, pick up the kidnappers and hand them over to a group of professional investigators who would be able to put the evidence together. Among the investigators would be lawyers and officers trained in the art of interrogation and prosecution. You can also seek the assistance of the judiciary to get the ingredients required to make the case file impenetrable. It is when you start eliciting the evidence in the court that it gets to the public domain. These days, it seems that once crime suspects are arrested, the social media is awash with the information; you are already killing your evidential proof. Those are the gaps that I think we should be able to fill.”
Arase’s submission is a clear pointer to where the solutions to the problems lie. The government and the Police must be proactive in ensuring there is a better performance from the Police and security of lives and properties.
To achieve this, a Security expert who spoke with ALEDEH said; ”There must be due protocols and Standard Operating Procedures as laid down by the authorities. The police must have operating procedures that are of international standards. There must be laid down rules and guidelines that must be followed strictly by officers.
Authorities of the Police and the federal government should provide more funds to the force to enable it to send its personnel on refresher courses abroad and help in the training of officers for better service delivery.”
Speaking further, he said, Nigeria at this point needs a Security and Intelligence Summit where stakeholders in the security sector of the nation will come together to brainstorm and reach logical conclusions on the provision of viable and achievable solutions to the different forms of insecurity in the country.
He observed that the leadership of the Police has been reactive in its decision making, and called for an analytical approach, to reaching solutions to the problem of the Nigeria Police Force.
Arase, also, in his submission to PUNCH said there has to be a technical approach to security in the country. In a situation where policing in the country is technology-based, it will be easier to nab culprits and offending officers.
Also, the rot in the Police Service Commission today cannot be over-flogged. From illegal recruitments to illegal promotion of officers, the PSC, which is the body overseeing the affairs of the Police needs a total revamp. Corrupt elements within the commission have made the Police stall in its growth. While some officers discharging their duties with aplomb are ignored in promotions, those who are servicing the egos of the men in charge get promoted without questioning.
ALEDEH has gathered that there is division within the Police Service Commission and this was caused by the reversal of 1,060 officers from General Duty to Specialists. In documents seen by ALEDEH, some individuals within the PSC are furious that another group within the commission had sent a letter to IGP, calling for the reversal of officers from General Duty to Specialists. In a heavy-worded letter written by the group to the Inspector General of Police, the individuals, who were signatories to the letter said they were not aware of such move and called on the Police chief to ignore the letter calling for the reversal of the officers to General Duty, stating their reasons for calling for the rejection of the letter.
ALEDEH has also gathered from a very reliable source that the group has been frustrating moves made by the PSC to review illegal promotions in the Police.
The functions and powers of the PSC are clearly stated in Sections 6 and 7 of the Police Service Commission (Establishment) Act of 2001. Quite sadly, the roles of the PSC, which are to help in ensuring better service delivery and performance of the Police have not been religiously followed through.
At this point, it is expedient that the roles of the Commission should be reviewed as they have been drawbacks and not provided the support and forward thinking decisions for the Police, further leading to the myriads of challenges faced by the force today.
Finally, the door of discipline in the force cannot be left ajar. There must be zero tolerance for indiscipline in the force, and a great show of professionalism in interactions and dealings with citizens. This will help towards building a trustworthy Nigeria Police Force and ensure better security of lives and properties in the country.