Police Reorganisation, Task Before New IGP



Since he assumed office as the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar has been talking tough and sounding like a man on a mission. Reports of his activities since he was appointed as the new boss of the Nigeria Police have portrayed him as an officer with deep knowledge of what is going on in the police and someone desirous of changing the negative perception people have of the force to a positive one.

During his ongoing tour of police formations, Abubakar last week directed that all intra-state and highway checkpoints which he said constituted nuisance on the roads in Lagos, Edo and South-Eastern states be dismantled and collapsed under the original standards recognised by the police.

He also ordered the withdrawal of all approved police escort from private individuals and corporate bodies across the country. The affected personnel include those from the special protection unit, mobile police force and conventional policemen posted as guards to companies and individuals.

In addition to these, Abubakar warned officers against detaining suspects more than 24 hours. He said any officer that flouted the directive would be sanctioned, adding that he had set up a monitoring team to ensure compliance at all state and zonal commands of the police to track policemen who abandoned their duties.

As much as we commend the police boss on his moves to sanitise the police and erase its negative perception in the eyes of the public, we maintain that the IGP will have to do more to achieve result.

The problems facing the police are many. They include corruption, fraud, inefficiency and operational ones. Abubakar, if he does not know, should be informed that his men now charge complainants who come to report cases to the police an amount of money before they can investigate the complaint.

A few examples here will suffice. A man who lost his car worth N1.3 million to fraudsters went to report the fraud at the Sango Police Station in Ogun State. Rather than take down the complaint and investigate the matter, the duty officer, after looking at the cost of the car, demanded a down payment of N50,000 before the complaint can be incidented in the police register. The victim complained that he does not have any money on him and the policeman told him to get out.

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The victim proceeded to the Special Fraud Unit in Ikoyi and detectives there took a look at the cost of the car and demanded a down payment of N120,000 before investigation can be carried out on the theft. Fed up with the antics of the police, the victim ran to P.M.NEWS, seeking publication of the story so as to compel the police to do the job they are being paid for.

Another victim whose shop was burgled and GSM phones worth millions of naira stolen, went to the police to report the matter and he was asked to pay N70,000 as down payment before a policeman can be assigned to follow him to the burgled shop.

These are real life encounters of the people with the police.

The setting up of a team to monitor compliance with his directives is good but it will not solve the problems of corruption, fraud, inefficiency and ineptitude associated with the police. To us, it is a cosmetic measure. The solution should go down to the root of the problems facing the police.

To completely have a police force that Nigerians are yearning for, the IGP should re-examine the structures upon which the police was built. Abubakar should take a critical look at the laws setting up the police, qualifications for recruitment, training, performance and welfare.

In carrying out these examinations, Abubakar should call for memoranda on police reorganisation from members of the public.

Nigerians are yearning for a police force that is corruption-free and efficient. They are looking for a police force that is people-friendly and reliable, not terrorists, swindlers or murderers.

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