The police, in every society, play a critical role in the maintenance of law and order as well as the detection and prevention of crime. To recruit policemen and women we can be proud of, we must take the issues of physical assessments and background checks seriously, because we cannot plant maize and expect to harvest rice.
Therefore, anyone going into the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) must be a person of good character and impeccable integrity. Such a person must also be someone that can be trusted enough to carry weapons on our behalf and put our national interest above any other. This is one thing we must ensure in the ongoing process of recruitment into the NPF.
Luckily for the country, the fierce legal battle as to who should be responsible for the recruitment of constables into the Nigeria Police Force has since been settled in favour of the Police Service Commission (PSC) by the Supreme Court judgment of July 20, 2023. It is imperative that the ongoing recruitment exercise should be based on merit and personal character of such men and women.
The exercise, which started on January 8 this year, should be strict as persons with questionable character and those lacking in integrity had found their way into the police force and other security agencies in the past. For instance, there was outrage when some alleged repentant criminals were recruited as constabularies in Kano State, with many Nigerians arguing that individuals with criminal records and or shady pasts have no business being in the Force. But the PSC defended the recruitment, noting that the “repentant criminals” were recruited as police constabulary because they had realised that crime does not pay, adding that “the Constabulary operations are covered and recognised by the Police Act, and are readily useful and needed now that the nation is fighting to end the siege of criminals across the country”.
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Just last week, some police officers were dismissed by the Ogun State Police Command over armed robbery around Ijebu-Ode. The dismissed officers – Inspector Taiwo Kolawole with Force Number AP/No 341113, Inspector John Ogbe with Force Number AP/No 309292 and Cpl Idowu Sunday with Force Number 513707 – were accused of robbing a Tai Solarin University student of over N300,000 on January 12, 2024.
Also, a human rights activist in Delta State, Harrison Gwamnishu, on the 19th of January 2024, made a post on X, formerly Twitter, where he accused the officers of arresting a man and extorting $3,000 from him. “The police officers attached to the Rivers State command left Port Harcourt to Aba, Abia State, arrested the man, took him to Rivers State, Bayelsa State and entered Ughelli, Delta State. After paying 3000 USD, they moved him back to Port Harcourt and dumped him. Let it be on record that the commissioner of police in Rivers State is aware of this kidnapping by men under his supervision,” he alleged.
The Rivers State Police Command responded through its spokesperson, Grace Iringe-Koko, saying, “The $3000 has been recovered from the officers and returned to the victims on 18th January”, and the officers have been arrested and made to face disciplinary measures.
Many such cases involving police officers who have abandoned and betrayed their oath are quite common. Members of the Nigeria Police Force are allegedly involved in many criminalities and other nefarious activities, from armed robbery to drug trafficking.
The PSC had assured Nigerians that “the entire recruitment exercise is free and will be based on merit and performance at each stage of the exercise.” We are urging them to walk their talk on this. The Chairman of the PSC, Solomon Arase, while admonishing the staff of the commission involved in the recruitment process, asked them to “remember, you are the guardians of a process that not only holds inherent significance but also paves the way for the forthcoming 30,000-man recruitment approved by the current administration.”
As the recruitment exercise is about to be concluded, it must not leave room for people of questionable character to get into the force. We must also utilise technology in doing a sound background check on potential recruits to get a clear understanding of the people that the nation will entrust with arms.
This is an important way to ensure we have a formidable, efficient and committed police force in which Nigerians will have trust. Nigeria is currently dealing with a lot of security issues. Therefore, it is imperative to get this recruitment right, if we truly seek to end the crisis.