16th December, 2010
Since he was appointed the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim has beenÂ taking measures to improve the image of the force. His utterances and actions, weÂ have observed, are geared towards repositioning the outfit as an effective crimeÂ fighting force with a human face.
In his latest attempt to sanitise the law enforcement arm of the government, RingimÂ last week redeployed all police commissioners from their present positions. TheÂ move, we were told, was informed by the need to ensure a free and fair election nextÂ year by preventing the police commissioners from influencing the outcome of theÂ elections based on their familiarity with politicians in the states.
Perhaps to support the IGP in his moves to to instil discipline in the police, theÂ Ministry of Police Affairs recently ordered an audit of police salary and personnelÂ in the country and the result was what some of us have long suspected.
Announcing the result of the audit on Tuesday, Ringim revealed the massive fraudÂ perpetrated by police pay officers and accountants in all the states of theÂ federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.
The IGP also revealed that some pay officers with the Abia State Police CommandÂ have been arrested and are being quizzed over their roles in the financial scam. HeÂ said the audit uncovered thousands of ghost workers in the police and billions ofÂ naira stolen by police pay officers and accountants.
The audit which commenced in September, it was learnt, also uncovered bank accountsÂ through which monies were being stolen by pay officers and their collaborators.
According to Ringim, over six billion naira have been recovered so far.
The examination revealed that the actual staff strength of the police was not up toÂ the 377,000 official figure.
â€œThe audit also established the fact that bank officials connive with police payÂ officers to steal money…Pay officers often delay payment of salaries unnecessarilyÂ while complaints of variated salaries and allowances by officers in some stateÂ commands are rife,â€ he added.
The police boss also revealed how N15 million was paid into some accounts monthlyÂ while cheques were cashed in flagrant violation of government regulations.
In all sincerity we have always suspected that this kind of racket was going on inÂ the police. It is on account of the massive corruption in the police that theÂ Transparency International, TI, the global anti-corruption watchdog identified theÂ police as the most corrupt government agency in the country followed by the PowerÂ Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
Corruption in the police needs no special investigation to uncover. A casualÂ observer wishing to confirm this only needs to move onto the roads to see the brazenÂ manner policemen extort money from motorists all in the guise of stop and search.
Our main concern now is what Ringim intends to do to correct these anomalies. OurÂ advice to the IGP is not to treat this matter with a kidâ€™s glove because theÂ problems facing the police are more fundamental. There is need for a fundamentalÂ restructuring and orientation of the police.
We are in an age of enlightenment and law enforcement officers must not only be wellÂ educated, they must also be enlightened to carry out their duties. The lower cadreÂ of the police must be staffed with well educated personnel with degrees and higherÂ diplomas. This will apart from helping to reduce unemployment among graduates in theÂ country also reflect in the quality performance of the personnel.
It is time we do away with mediocres and illiterates who can barely read in theÂ police. What we need are enlightened minds, well trained in the art of policing toÂ maintain law and order.
IGP Ringim should focus on retraining and reorientation of his men to achieve theÂ desired result.
Ringim should also bring all the police personnel indicted by the audit report toÂ book to serve as aÂ deterrent to others.