Police formations across the country are groaning under poor financing – a development which further cripples the police at a time of heightened internal security challenges. For the first quarter of this year, police commands and formations have not gotten any money to run the humongous operations under them, Daily Trust investigation reveals.
The constitutional roles of the police are maintaining law and order and ensuring peace in the country. However, years of underfunding and poor management have rendered the police largely ineffective in carrying out its responsibilities.
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Daily Trust recalls that about N500billion was budgeted for the Nigeria Police Force in the 2021 budget. President Muhammadu Buhari had, in the fourth quarter of 2020, transmitted a budget proposal of N449billion to the National Assembly for approval as the 2021 budget operations for the Nigerian police.
But the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Police Affairs, Mohammed Kumo, during one of the budget defence by Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu, said the amount was grossly inadequate.
Investigation by Daily Trust revealed that despite this amount, state commissioners of police, area commanders and their respective divisional police officers are made to source for operation cost to run their commands and divisions.
The poor funding, according to a cross section of senior police officers and the rank and file interviewed by Daily Trust Saturday, creates a pathetic picture, which they said made their job tougher.
Several police personnel interviewed for this story said Nigerians had on many occasions complained of extortion.
A police commissioner confided in Daily Trust that police divisions received only N10, 000 monthly, which he said was also not forthcoming. He said the money was not paid in the last three months, he said.
According to him, state commands and other formations are yet to receive any money as operational cost this year, making it difficult for them to meet basic obligations like provision of stationeries or fueling of generators and vehicles.
“My men that are out there on special operations have not also been paid. Not a dime. We expose them to danger and deny them even the most basic tools to perform their duties,” he said, pleading not to be named for fear of victimisation.
A police officer at a community in one of the suburbs in Abuja, while speaking to one of our correspondents who had gone to report his missing wallet, said they did not have a book to record his information.
“You can get a plain sheet, write all you lost there and submit it to our SO,” the officer said.
“Who will provide us stationery? We have been using parts of the money complainants pay to run the station, but when it is not forthcoming, what do we do?
“On the surface, bail is free, but it is not in reality because that is what many heads of the formations use to run their respective stations. Now that nothing is coming, everyone is on low-key,’’ he added.
The officer subsequently asked our reporter for the sum of 3,000 if he wanted his complaints recorded formally.
In Zuba, another suburb in the Federal Capital Territory, our correspondent observed that few rickety and abandoned operational vehicles in the premises of the station were no longer in use.
An officer in the station, who pleaded anonymity, said they lacked fund to fuel the vehicles before they were grounded.
He said, “Not that these vehicles were just grounded, they were in good condition before, but lack of fuel made them useless. You know what will happen if vehicles are parked without putting them to use.’’
Some commanding officers said they had been left to their devices and made to operate “like corporate beggars” as they rely on individuals and business owners for survival.
While state commissioners of police get fund from their respective governors, area commanders and their respective divisional police officers are at the mercies of corporate organisations, hoteliers and small scale business owners within their areas of jurisdiction.
Most divisional police officers who spoke to our correspondent but asked not to be named, alleged that they depended on members of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) for assistance.
One of them under Area M, Lagos command, told our correspondent that his division had no operational patrol van at the time he was posted there.
“I met two grounded patrol vehicles when I assumed office. I had to go cap-in- hand begging hoteliers to help us fix the vehicles. Right now, one of the vans is operational. We bought new engine for one and are going to work on the second one as soon as I am able to get fund from friends.
“Do you expect me to tell a distressed person who may have been attacked by robbers that I would not be able to come to his aid because my division does not have any vehicle?’’ He asked.
An inspector who did not also wish to be named said policemen were made to fuel their patrol vans anytime they go out on operation.
“What this means is that the first 10 persons or commercial buses to be arrested pay for fuel,’’ he said.
A senior officer who craved anonymity said the lack of funding had made police commissioners to be lackeys of state governors, even against their wishes, as it is the governors that usually foot the bills of their operations.
Some officers in charge of divisions told Daily Trust that money gotten from bail helped them to run their activities.
A divisional crime officer (DCO) in one of the local governments in Katsina, who asked not to be named, explained that most of the times, a complainant would approach them that he does not want to go to court and will be willing to settle with the accused person, and in most of this instance, an undertaking will be needed to be signed by the accused person.
“We get like N5, 000 or N3, 000 from this arrangement, depending on those involved, and most especially, the area,” he said.
Raiding black spots is also one of the ways the police ‘raise’ money for their day-to-day activities, it was also gathered.
The crime officer said that during these raids, they normally carry out “screening” of suspects, and most of the time, they properly profile some criminals and charge them to court.
He added, however, that sometimes they arrest “victims of circumstances.”
Asked what is done to those found to be “victims of circumstance,” the senior officer said they would still have to “bail” themselves out.
Another senior officer who also asked not to be named, added that most of the time they would depend on “good Samaritans” to fuel their vehicles. He explained that normally, when they patrol at night, they might be lucky to meet a “big man” who would appreciate them and give them “donations.”
Sometimes, some of these ‘big men’ will approach them and ask that the team patrol around their houses regularly. “And they will give us something like N10, 000, or in some cases, N5, 000. It is not regular,” he added.
It was also gathered from another senior officer in Kano that some petrol stations support the police by regularly providing free fuel for their patrol vehicles.
“You know they also need security, and because of that, some will give us fuel once or twice a week. There is a station that gives us N1,000 fuel daily,” he added.
Another top police officer in Katsina, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said nothing was actually going as it supposed to be, referring to the money they are supposed to get from the police authorities to run their affairs.
“If anyone tells you that things are going smoothly, they must be hiding the actual situation. Let me tell you, it is either you device your means of running the affairs of your division or section or you sit there doing nothing. And if you say because there are no resources you cannot do anything, then you must give way to others who are willing to do it by all means. So you can see that you have no option than to source for your funds,’’ he said.
He added that security matter is capital-intensive and called on relevant authorities to look into the matter holistically.
Findings by Daily Trust in some police stations around Kaduna and Ilorin revealed that while some divisional police stations get a monthly allocation of less than N10, 000, others get nothing and rely on the goodwill of communities and individuals.
In Kaduna State, our correspondent gathered from selected divisional police officers that N30,000 is allocated to run their stations quarterly.
“We are just struggling to keep the station running. You won’t believe that we are given N30, 000 quarterly to run the station, from fuelling and maintaining our vehicles, to buying fuel and fixing the generator, as well as the general maintenance of the office,” the divisional police officer (DPO) in Kaduna, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent.
According to him police divisional offices rely largely on the help of communities who depend on their services to keep crime at bay.
“Some communities who benefit from our services help us out. When they see what we are doing, they either renovate the station or do one form of social responsibility or another,” another DPO said.
He said most stations were surviving on guard jobs for banks and companies, which the station leverages on to compliment the meagre allowances that come from the Nigerian Police Force to run the station. “That is why it will not be strange if you see police personnel scrambling for certain divisions because of such guard duties. With this, the DPOs are able to run the stations fully.”
Asked how they are able to feed suspects, one of the divisional police officers said, “We do not feed suspects because we cannot afford to do so. A suspect either provides money for his feeding or his relatives take up the responsibility.”
They expressed hope that by the time the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, which was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 24, 2019 takes off, all the challenges faced by police personnel would be a thing of the past.
“Decentralising the police budget, just like what the military has done, will go a long way in reducing, if not solving the problems police personnel face, in terms of welfare and other things because right now, a policeman only receives his salaries; he has no allowances; and if he is transferred, he is not given any allowance, so he would have to squat with someone before he can settle down,” he stated.
Divisional police officers in Ilorin also disclosed to Daily Trust Saturday that they run their stations, fuel patrol vehicles and run other activities from their pockets.
“We do not receive anything as funding from our command, both in Abuja and here in Ilorin. The situation is pathetic. It is so bad that the last patrol vehicles we received from the command/headquarters were in 2012, and since then, we have been using them and managing to keep them on the road, for those that can still be repaired. We use them daily and I take personal charge of the repairs and expenses of the patrol vehicle at my station, including fueling,” a serving DPO said.
He said the story was the same in other divisions, which is why police vehicles often break down on the road and are pushed by officers within Ilorin metropolis. “This is because they are due for change. Most of them are obsolete. Is that what you want to use to chase armed robbers or fight crime?” He asked.
Another DPO told our correspondent that there were nine divisions in Ilorin and about 40 in Kwara State. “You have to use your discretion, and in my case, we talk to community leaders, philanthropists and other good-spirited individuals in the state, who have been responsible for whatever is coming to us to fund the police and take care of the division.”
Also speaking with our correspondent, a top police source said the money that comes to the state command from the force headquarters in Abuja on a monthly basis is N300,000. He said it was from that allocation that vehicles are fueled and fixed and assistance sometimes given to retirees.
“No single amount gets to the DPOs from this meager fund received monthly, and you are talking about running cost for police stations and staff welfare from what is not even there in the first place,” he said.
Similarly, a high-ranking security personnel, who is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Ilorin area command on community policing, confided in Daily Trust that officers had no patrol vehicles and stationeries in the stations.
“The money from the force headquarters for the management of the police is not coming down to DPOs. It was because of this lacuna that there is a bill currently before the National Assembly for the decentralisation of the police so that zones can be collecting the money directly and distributing them to the divisions under them.
“All divisions in Nigeria are living in abject poverty because there is no money to run their affairs. They don’t have patrol vehicles and offices are not habitable. Ordinarily, once the fund is sent from the force headquarters to each state command, they are supposed to be distributed to the divisions under them, which is not the case with us here. That is why there is the need to question the fund because of the condition and poor status of the various divisions,” he said.
Poor funding, source of concern – Experts
A retired director in the Department of State Services (DSS), Dan Amakree, explained that the United Nations recommended that a country without any security problem must dedicate five per cent of its Gross Domestic Products (GDP) to fund their police.
“What do we have in Nigeria with all our mirage of security problems? We dedicate 0.046 per cent for our police. I don’t think we are ready yet as a country, he said.
A security expert and the chief executive officer of Halogen Security, Wale Olaoye, said the Nigeria Police Force was grossly underfunded.
According to him, adequate attention is not given to the quality and number of officers recruited into the force
“There is a video going round on the social media, of a certain high profile government official who slapped a private security guard in the presence of his police details. In any sane clime, his police details are the ones who would effect his arrest immediately. But what happened in this case? They just stood by and watched. Officers of the law have been reduced to nothing,’’ he said.
IGP lacks power to fund police formations – Force spokesman
When contacted on Friday, the spokesman of the Nigerian Police Force, Frank Mba, said, “I have heard sometimes people saying why has IG not done this, why has IG not done that. The IG is like a high priest and he can only offer the sacrifices provided at the altar by the people.
“So, the IG cannot on his own fund the police. He discharges his functions, runs his office, runs the police, provides operational assets and tools and takes care of the welfare and other logistics of his men based on the funding provided by the people and the government of Nigeria.”
He maintained that only questions related to the core operations of the force should be directed to the Force Headquarters while questions about funding should be posed to government officials including members of the National Assembly.
Mba said, “The police don’t fund itself; the police are funded by the people and the government of Nigeria. So, that question should go to the people and the government. I deal with issues that touch on the core operations of the force.
“We are just public servants and we work with whatever is provided for us. If you (the government and the people) give us the stick in place of guns, we will work with the sticks. If you give us guns, we will work with the guns.
“There is a saying that every country gets the kind of police they deserve. If you want to ask any question about funding, please, don’t ask the police; ask the people and the government of Nigeria.
“I want to add that even the Inspector-General of Police does not fund the police. He doesn’t have the capacity to fund the police. The IGP runs the police with whatever funds the government and the people of Nigeria provide for him.”
By: Abdulaziz Abdulaziz & Idowu Isamotu (Abuja), Eugene Agha (Lagos), Clement A. Oloyede (Kano), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina), Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna), Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin)