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Service for sale: How police commercialise security operations amid manpower shortage

Nigerians have raised concerns over the commercialisation of security services of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to those who can afford to pay,…

Nigerians have raised concerns over the commercialisation of security services of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to those who can afford to pay, investigation by Daily Trust Saturday revealed.


Prominent personalities who have the wherewithal can “rent” police operatives through the latest platform of the NPF called Police Specialised Automated Services Programme (POSSAP).

Those behind the platform said it would liberalise private citizens’ use of armed police for their activities.

Although they claimed it is a “standard practice across the world,” some concerned citizens said this might not necessarily be true.

They also said that considering Nigeria’s peculiarities, the whole concept had been abused as people who have the means pay for the service to have police operatives at social events like parties, wedding ceremonies, burials, concerts by celebrities, among others, at a time the larger population requires general protection.

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Some citizens expressed disgust that this is happening at a time the number of police personnel is less than 400,000 and below the one police officer to 400 citizens for Nigeria’s population of 214million people.

Depending on the capacity of the client to pay for the services, it is now common to see tens of police operatives armed with sophisticated weapons moving in front and back of newlywed couples, people seeking for political offices or businessmen and women using the officers as status symbol.

While there are certain people the constitution and other laws give life protection and other perks, even after they leave public offices, observers are worried that police protection is now “cash-and-carry” and is reducing the image of the force beyond whatever benefits therein.

Daily Trust Saturday had on January 14 reported that 43 personnel of the Force attached to Very Important Persons (VIPs) were gunned down by criminal elements while escorting their clients.

Police officers who are attached to private citizens and other VIPs sometimes get exploited or physically abused by their clients, like the case of the wife of a former presidential election winner, who allegedly assaulted her female orderly for refusing to carry out domestic choirs.

Our findings revealed that because of some benefits, police personnel lobby to be attached to private entities as an officer so assigned is reportedly paid as much as N15,000 allowance while their approving authority gets N5,000.

Aliyu Ahmed, a businessman in Kano, said he attended a wedding party and was appalled to see police operatives serving as escort for the couple.

“It is a common practice now to see police in unexpected quarters. I was shocked to see them behind the vehicles of the bride and groom and their friends. I asked how they got them and was told that the couple paid for the service,” he said.

Tony Emmanuel, another businessman in Lagos, said celebrities now use police as escorts.

“There was this dancer (I don’t want to mention name) who came home in December and paid for the services of the police. Sadly, I saw her walking on the streets dancing and twerking, shaking her body while the police “orderlies” were watching. It was embarrassing; there is no justification for this,” he said.

Anita Dung, who lives in Jos, said when she read the about POSSAP, she knew there would be problems.

“Nigerians have high propensity of abusing privileges, and this is exactly what is happening. I don’t think that simply because someone can afford it, he should be given many police operatives to escort him to party, or his village to attend town hall meeting or wedding.

“I have seen such instances many times and it is embarrassing. We must protect our institutions and symbols of authority from abuse and ridicule.

“The framers of the initiative should go back to the drawing board. I know that most of our inspectors-general of police had at different times threatened to withdraw police from VIPs. This POSSAP has widened the abuse net,” she said.


The POSSAP initiative

On July 14, 2021, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the formation of POSSAP, saying it would allow the police to deploy its officers as escorts and guard to big corporations and individuals.

In August 2022, the POSSAP was launched as a centralised automation process for applying for police services and generating funds for the welfare of the Force.

Speaking at the launch in Abuja, Inspector-General of Police Usman Baba, said the POSSAP was a concept of rendering specialised services by the police, “which is a global practice.” He added that it was designed to generate complementary revenue for the police to augment funding constraints, which usually hamper operational capabilities.

In retrospect, the Nigerian Police Force Trust Fund (NPFTF) and the Police Equipment Fund (PEF) were meant for additional funding besides the annual budget, but they have been dogged by corruption allegations and political controversies.

The POSSAP, which was alleged to have been outsourced to a private firm, Parkway Projects Ltd, is, therefore, seen as the latest funding experiment for police services.

While others view the POSSAP as innovative in police funding, others say it will breach the rights of poor Nigerians to security as enshrined in section 14(1) (b) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999. The section provides that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

One of the earlier initiatives, the NPFTF, which was meant to be deducted from the Federation Account, was successfully challenged before the Federal High Court in Abuja by the Rivers State Government as unconstitutional and unlawful.

The state had in 2020 filed the suit against the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Accountant-General of the Federation; the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, and the Federal Ministry of Finance, contending that the deductions violated the provision of section 162 (3) of the Nigerian constitution, which states that funds standing to the credit of the Federation Account  – “federal, state and local government councils in each state of Nigeria and not directly to any agency of the federal government, including the NPF.”

The Rivers State Government had also challenged the constitutionality and validity of sections 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(b) of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act 2019, which permit the deduction of 0.5 per cent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account and to be paid to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.

NGO heads to court against payment platform

Some citizens have criticised the private citizens’ policing payment platform as discriminatory, and therefore, against the tenet, spirit, intendment and objectives of the Police Act and section 251 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and therefore, unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

They further stated that the programme would distract the organisation from its specific objectives as provided in sections 13, 15, 17, 42, and 214(2)(a), (b) and (c) of the constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

In view of this, a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Centre for Human Rights and Social Advancement (CEFSAN), has filed an originating summon before the Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging the paid security platform.

Lawyers to the NGO, A.M. Bashir and Yusuf Adamu Ibrahim, asked the court to make an order restraining the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Ministry of Police Affairs, the Nigeria Police Council, the Nigeria Police Force, the Inspector-General of Police, the Police Service Commission, the National Assembly, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Parkway Projects Ltd from assigning the personnel of the police to “any rich, affluent or popular Nigerian or non-Nigerian for a fee, or any such purpose other than the statutory duties of the fourth defendant (the NPF).”

The centre said the platform, which would enable the police to provide protection, escort and guard services for fees to the rich and affluent persons in Nigeria, was a usurpation of the powers of the National Assembly under sections 4 and 214 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as well as section 4 of the Police Act, and therefore, unconstitutional.

It said monetisation of police services for the rich would be discriminatory and distract the Force from its specific objectives as provided in sections 13, 15, 17, 42 and 214(2)(a), (b) and (c) of the constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

However, the NPF filed a counter affidavit sworn to by litigation staff of the Force Legal/Prosecution, Force Criminal Investigation Department of the Nigerian Police Force, Joshua Yohanna and S. Mallum, asking the court to dismiss the suit because the “statutory provisions support and affirm the powers of the police to receive and make income and revenues from her operations.”

In paragraph 15, he stated, “The responsibility of the police under the specialised services spectrum also includes special protection of high-value security and critical private assets and facilities of national importance, including banks, oil installations, telecommunications infrastructure, amongst others.

“The specialised services responsibility of the police extends also to rendering special protection services to persons occupying sensitive political legislative and judicial offices, including judges, political leaders, lawmakers and heads of government departments and agencies, whose offices require assigned special protection.”

Analysts express divergent views

Speaking on the development, a former commissioner of police in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) command and a security consultant, Lawrence Alobi, said POSSAP, through a private firm, would not be the best idea if it conflicts with constitutional provisions.

He said the general duties of the police were to serve as a service-oriented organisation with a constitutional duty to deliver the duty of the government to provide for the security and welfare of the citizens, but “extra policing” service to private individuals would have to be paid for.

He added, “When they now privatise, it becomes profit-oriented, not service.

“The police can also generate funds from traffic fines and such offences. Corporate organisations can pay for services, not the poor.

“Normal policing of maintaining law and order should not be commercialised.”

Reacting to the development, Sam Kargbo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the POSSAP would help people develop a culture of payment for services delivered to organisations.

“The training of the police is part of the human capital the country is built.

“But for me, the idea of the elite cornering them for their purpose without giving commensurate remuneration is wrong.

“If you want their services for your own benefit and not for the community’s purpose or public service, then you have to pay for it.

“The moment they start paying for it, most of them would comport themselves,” he said.

He said politicians and celebrities who are less flamboyant were more likely not to attract security concerns or become targets of kidnappers and men of the underworld.

Furthermore, Emmanuel Anene, a lawyer, said although the police would not refer to the charges under the proposed POSSAP as payment for service, it would be unfair for some persons to seek police protection services without following due process or paying the commensurate remuneration for that.

He said, “This is not about security for members of the public who are in distress because the police would respond to them.

“But if you want to take from the community pool you have to stick something in return if you want the police to provide the service because it is not fair.”

Policing not for sale, project about transparency – FG

When contacted, the spokesman of the NPF, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, told Daily Trust on Saturday that the POSSAP was not the idea of the Force, and as such, it won’t comment.

“Please find out the details from the Ministry of Police Affairs; it was a federal government’s decision. Let the government speak on that, don’t let us get involved. It was handed over to us.

“It was established by the Federal Executive Council,” Adejobi, a Chief Superintendent of Police, told one of our reporters during a phone interview.

Several efforts to reach the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, were not successful as calls to his mobile phone Thursday night were not answered.

But the spokesman of the ministry, Bolaji Kazeem, in an interview with Daily Trust Saturday, dismissed insinuations in some quarters that policing is on sale.

Kazeem explained that the project, where some Nigerians are being asked to pay for the services of the police when needed, was to streamline things to strengthen the Force by making it accountable and transparent.

“It is not true that police officers are not doing their statutory jobs again. Most of those police officers are always on the field pursuing bandits and other criminals; you see them on patrol every day.

“It is just a few of them that are assigned to those who pay through the POSSAP, and that is an opportunity for them (police). The POSSAP is just to streamline things.

“Instead of the money going to private pockets, it goes to a fund that everybody will know, and it shall be disbursed to those who are working for that particular stuff. It is now transparent and accountable.

“Before now, all companies would pay money to individuals for protection without the government knowing anything about it. It had been going to private pockets.

“But now, they know where the money is going, the percentage the police will receive and the percentage that will be retained. It is not hidden, everything is known. It is just for convenience, accountability, transparency and service delivery.

“It is from there that the police will now get more money to do other things to enhance the capacity of the police,” he said.

When Daily Trust Saturday asked Kazeem to assess the project’s impact since it was launched, he maintained that it had been helpful, especially in the area of recruitment of community police officers.

“The project is helpful in the sense that they have created community police. They (constabularies) are the ones that will give police information to move in,” he added, and called for an increase in manpower for the police.


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