The imperatives of a reformed Nigeria police | Dailytrust

The imperatives of a reformed Nigeria police

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba

The reform of the Nigeria Police Force reqires a broad, multifaceted and long-term effort to overhaul the whole system to make it more effective and do away with the negative perception regarding the conduct of its officers.

It also calls for the provision of better equipment and increasing the number of police personnel in the country especially with the growing threats across the country.

The increment in remuneration for the Nigeria Police approved by President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to begin this month as disclosed by the Minister of Police Affairs earlier in December 2021.

The minister, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, had on December 15, 2021, shortly after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) disclosed, while speaking to journalists, that the “peculiar allowance” increment which was approved for the police would take off from January 2022.

His announcement came shortly after the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces also stated at the FEC meeting that there would be an increase in police salaries by 20%.

According to him, the FEC meeting presided by the president, also approved the review of police duty tour allowance to six per cent and the release of N1.2 billion for the payment of uninsured benefits.

Also approved was N1.2 billion for the payment of outstanding allowances and a tax waiver for junior police personnel which would take effect from October 2021.

Dingyadi said the allowance will increase police personnel’s take-home pay by 20 per cent of their present earnings, stressing that the development was part of efforts of the Buhari-led administration to meet the #EndSARS demands.

According to him, the major highlight of the increase is the provision of a 20 per cent peculiar allowance for the police.

He said, “I am particularly very happy today to inform Nigerians that the Federal Executive Council has approved the review and upgrading of the take-home pay of police personnel in this country.

“You recall that in October 2020, this country was rocked with #EndSARS protests and the president addressed the nation appealing for calm, after which he promised that the salary of the police will be reviewed in recognition of the services they have been rendering to the country, maintaining peace and tranquillity.

“So, FEC has today approved a proposal for the review of their salaries, which will take effect from January 2022. 

“We have tried to create a situation where their take-home pay will be enhanced through the improvement of issues such as duty tour allowance, which has been reviewed to 6 per cent of their new take-home pay.”

Recently, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, admitted that most of the police officers’ unethical conducts began during their recruitment days, saying those trained in the past were hostile to the society because of the kind of dehumanizing training they underwent.

He stated this during a meeting with commandants of Police Colleges at Force Headquarters in Abuja.

Baba said “the old-fashioned standard dehumanized the recruits in a manner that turns them into hostile security servants to members of the public that they were recruited to serve.

“Accordingly, as custodians and guardians of the recruits, you are to provide mentorship by displaying a high level of ethical standards.

“This is important because students learn more, although subconsciously, from watching and imbibing the characters and attitudes of their teachers and instructors. 

“It is for this reason that it is important to drum it up that you must all practice what you would be preaching to the recruits.”

Speaking on the increment, some of the stakeholders in the security sector commended the development.

They however noted that reforming the Nigeria Police as an institution, and its officers’ conduct is beyond salary increment only but a broader perspective and provisions that would make it a more refined system that will stand the test of time in line with global best practices.

A former Executive Secretary of Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), Mr Fola Authur-Worrey, said as long as police officers are still performing the work of protecting highly-placed persons in the society, the institution and its personnel may not be reformed.

The ex-LSSTF boss described the practice as an “abuse of public assets”   a situation where government officials, private individuals like celebrities and others are being followed around by Mobile Police (MOPOL) who are originally anti-riot officers.

He said the marginal increase in salaries does not correspond with the present inflation trend, adding that the entire police institution needs re-orientation on how policing systems work.

“As long as the police officers are doing VIPs’ protection, they are not functioning as police officers. They are not functioning to protect the state, they are functioning to protect particular individuals and particular facilities, that’s not the police functions.

“So, I don’t think an increase in salary can reform them. Anyway, it is a marginal increase, it is not a substantive increase. It doesn’t keep up with the inflationary trend.

“For me, an increase in salaries is a partial approach to police reform. What the police need to do is to re-orientate themselves as police of the state, to protect lives and property, not escorts of VIPs.

“We have about 100,000 armed policemen acting as personal bodyguards to a diverse number of people, not just officials but all manner of people.

“You will see all manners of people with MOPOL officers, whereas MOPOL officers are supposed to be anti-riot and law enforcement officers, not escorts. For me, that is a major problem,” Authur-Worrey said.

According to him, there are many idle police officers in different high-rise estates in Lagos, who have abandoned their primary duties and opted for the protection of private individuals.

He said: “Yes, increase in salaries may give the police marginal benefits, but it’s not going to affect the functioning of the police as long as they make VIPs’ protection their primary duty.

“Even if they recruit more officers, as you know, what the police do say is that they don’t have enough personnel and that they want to employ 10,000 policemen per year for the next five years.

“Fine, but newly employed officers cannot carry arms, so they are not going to be much effective in terms of dealing with the kinds of crimes we have now in Nigeria which is banditry.

“Let’s look at VIP protection critically; it is a 24/7 thing. Not that they escort them somewhere and then go back to their regular duties, they follow them all over the place including going home with them.

“As long as their principals are at home, not on the move, we have idle policemen. Go to big estates in Lagos, go to Banana Island, go to Osborne estate, go to Part View, you will see many idle policemen while their principals are at home. That is not how to run a police institution!

“Police are public assets, they are not supposed to be used for private businesses. For me, that is a major issue.”

He recalled that President Buhari had in 2016 expressed concern about the abuse of police officers, calling on him to do a follow-up on his directive that year.

“Strangely, the president himself in 2016 complained to the then IG about the abuse of VIP protection and directed the IG to do something about it but there was no follow-up, and clearly it is a major issue,” the ex-LSSTF boss.

He added: “Another issue is the kind of centralized control of the police. For instance, why is it difficult for the police to control Okadas? That is a police function! People are just breaking the law, and nobody is able to do something about it.

“There is a need for a change in attitude to law enforcement because the first rule of security is an ‘order’. You must have an order! It is when you have an order that you will notice that something is out of things.

“When disorder is the order of the day, then, you are going to find it difficult to control the chain, and you go to deal with traffic robbery and those kinds of things.

“And the investigation of cases the way police used to with forensic things is not thorough. What we do now is to assign police to so-called “big men”. That is ridiculous, that is an abuse of the public assets.

“The increase in salaries, as good as it might be, does not address the fundamental issues.”

Speaking on how police can be reformed, Worrey said: “The second issue is that, I don’t think that the Police Trust Fund, which was established in 2019, is being used effectively enough. It is not being used in a way it is expected.

“And that is basically because the error they made is that they call it a trust fund which means the funds operated by third parties for the benefits of the police.

“They have done it in such a way that it is the police that are running the fund, and because they are running the fund, they are not being creative enough in my view. That’s another issue that needs to be addressed.”

On her part, the Programme Manager, CLEEN Foundation, Mrs Ruth Olofin, charged the federal government not to look in one direction in its quest to reform the Nigeria Police.

She said: “I think it is a good step in the right direction because if you look at it from the angle of motivation, police job is a risky job, and if the government is coming forward to add a little something to their salaries and other benefits, it is something that motivates them.

“But you cannot reform one aspect and leave the other. So, you’re adding something to their salaries, it’s fine, you want to boost the morale at work towards effectiveness but the argument now is that you cannot leave one and do the other.

“As you’re providing those supports in terms of increment in salaries, you should also look at providing equipment and other supports that can fully reform the police in terms of their service delivery because we’re in a very peculiar security situation.

“The internal security threats are very high, and as such the police need to be at par because crime is evolving, security threats are daily multiplying in different forms. So, we also need a police force that will also be at par.”

According to her, there are other areas like the political will to actually reform, both at the level of institution and at the level of government.

She added that it is “a right step in the right direction like I noted, but that is not the only thing; that is not enough, there are other areas the government can look at.

“So, if there are large scale panel reports that we have put together to say A,B,C,D are the things you need to fully reform Nigeria Police Force and put it in a state of optimum effectiveness, then government should have the political will to recall those documents and begin to implement them rather than leaving them at a very shallow state.

“You pick a salary increment today, tomorrow, you will just do one training. So, the government needs to do more in terms of reforms in its totality.”

The take-off of the increment and other approved packages will determine its impact, particularly on the perceived negative image and performance of the Nigeria police which was largely propelled by lack of proper welfare and poor working conditions.

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