The Police and Security


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October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007



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The Police and Security




Ejiro Etaghene



culled from VANGUARD, January 18, 2005

THE rate of robbery and assassination in the country in recent times, is a matter of great concern. Reports of armed robbery, assassination, vandalisation and of recent, terrorism, are on the increase. The magnitude of this imbroglio is of high proportion. It is a situation where the quarry chases its adversary. By this, I mean the attack on the Police by armed bandits.

Again, the proliferation of arms in the country presently is unimaginable. Before now, it was the report that arms were stockpiled mainly in the Niger-Delta. But with the unfolding events in the country, it is now clear and evident that the problem is ubiquitous. Talking about arms, sophisticated weapons ranging from small and automatic guns, are on the increase.

It is a matter that is worrisome and disheartening. As it is today, arms in wrong hands has escalated beyond imagination. This is taking cognizance of the increase in armed conflict and other violent expenditure such as robbery and assassination in Nigeria.
Reports of insecurity and violence dot the landscape. Assassination is no longer news. Only recently, some police officers on duty were murdered in Warri and Benin. As if that was not enough, a religious sect that called itself the Talibans, attacked police stations in Gwoza and Bama, in Borno State. One wonders the rationale behind these attacks, especially as they took place concurrently.

A situation where armed policemen (including Mobile Policemen) are being massacred, what then is the fate of the defenceless citizens of this country? This is why every average Nigerian today  lives in fear. Travelling these days is done with caution. Those who are supposed to have good night rest are sleeping with one eye open for fear of the unknown. To this extent, high fences and gigantic iron gates are the preferred for homes. No doubt, the cost of erecting a fence around some homes is more than enough to build a duplex. This is apart from the cost of providing private security in some homes, due to lack of confidence in the police.

State of insecurity

It is worrisome seeing the state of insecurity in Nigeria. The situation is worsened when viewed against the backdrop of money budgeted for police and security yearly. What we have today, is a police that is inept and lackadaisical. A  Police force which lacks uniforms, and where remuneration of officers is a difficult, what an irony! The question on the lips of Nigerians is: Where are these monies budgeted for the Police going? Crime prevention needs a lot of money and commitment, not paying lip services and counting successes where there are none.

Truly, this administration has done so much in ensuring that the Nigerian Police is given a face-lift. They have given
more motivation and shown more commitment than previous governments, particularly in  the area of recruitment. It is said that there is no month without recruitment exercise since 1999.This is aimed at meeting the International Standard of a Policeman to two hundred persons. But even at this, crime is still on the increase.

Granted that the citizens have a role to play in security and policing by giving useful information to the Police, the Police on its part, has desecrated this gesture by revealing the identities of informants. This is why investigations are fruitless in Nigeria. Nobody would risk his or her life for such worthless adventure. Consequently, the average Nigerian has lost confidence in the Police.

Although as stated earlier, the Police is ill-motivated, and ill-equipped to checkmate crime. A situation where those meant to prevent crime are not paid salaries as at when due, is an anomaly. This is where corruption creeps into the service. Contrition is the word, looking at the weapons in Police possession. It is excruciating to note that some of these guns are not functional. This is aside from the fact that most of these weapons are outdated.

This may sound funny, but it is a reality that most policemen do not know their duty and functions. Policemen are at road-blocks otherwise known as 'check points,' collecting N20.00 from motorists instead of carrying out a thorough check on vehicles.

Political thuggery

A possible reason for increase in illegal arms is the distribution  by politicians during the last general election to their hirelings. Jobless youths were recruited as thugs to intimidate and if possible, eliminate political opponents. Most of these weapons were not returned after the election. And these are sophisticated weapons that have intimidating profile. It is with these arms that most youths are now encouraged to go into robbery and other dangerous 'vocations'. This is a serious indictment on the politicians especially those of the PD P extraction.

The way forward is not far-fetched. Government must first and foremost tackle the economic problems of this country. This will in turn generate employment for the youths who are idle; and are ready to do anything for money. Secondly, the Police must be given adequate training and motivation not just the physical training, but also some psychological training. Psychological training is necessary to enable the Police have the basic knowledge of identifying suspects. This will also enable them to treat suspects right. The issue of remuneration is of right and need no emphasis. If this is achieved, corruption will be brought to a tolerable level.

Finally, the police should be adequately equipped in the area of arms, vehicle, communication gadget and other incentives such as fingerprint machines. Fingerprint identification machines must be acquired, as this will foster investigation. Were the Police in possession of these machines, Chief Bola Ige and Marshal Harry’s killers that are shrouded in mystery would have been unveiled by now.

•Mr.  Etaghene, Faculty of Law, University of Benin,writes from Benin City.



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