The new Inspector General of Police should get his facts right

That the relationship between Ibrahim Idris, the acting Inspector General of Police and his immediate predecessor, Solomon Arase is not cordial is most unfortunate. Idris recently accused his former boss of carting away 24 vehicles, including two bullet-proof BMW cars, belonging to the Nigeria Police. He also alleged that the deputy Inspector Generals who retired alongside Arase left with between seven and eight cars each.

However, the former IGP has dismissed the claims, arguing that Idris was up to some mischief. Arase claimed that every information about the vehicles and perhaps on other issues were in his handover notes. “It’s unfortunate that this matter is being made a media issue because my successor has my telephone number and could have called me for any clarification or even sent me a text message rather than addressing the media on an issue well documented in my handover notes,” said Arase.

Anyone in Idris’ position would be angry if the allegations were true. But in no sense was the accusation right as the vehicles reportedly had been found; which means the new police boss has to be more circumspect in his actions since getting his decisions right will ultimately rest on complete information. He may be in a hurry to put the police house in order but it would be wise for him to always crosscheck his facts. It will save him and the police force from making unnecessary enemies of the people who could be of immense assistance to them.

Instructively, when he assumed office barely a month ago, Idris had pledged to leave a legacy of efficiency and transparency in the Nigeria Police Force. Apparently embarrassed that despite the efforts of his predecessors, corruption is still rife and has indeed eroded the image and confidence of the public in the police, Idris had vowed to address the issue of integrity and accountability in the force. “We will make sure that our police officers are accountable to the people,” he said. “I am assuring you that every police officer from my rank to the assistant superintendent of police must declare their assets”.

True to his declaration, one of his major acts on assuming office was to order the audit of police investment bodies and subsidiaries to ascertain the true position of assets, finances and liabilities of the Nigeria Police. The exercise is in line with the federal government’s agenda to institutionalise fiscal discipline, probity and accountability in the management of public funds. These actions are entirely justifiable as Idris recognises the need to restore the trust and confidence of Nigerians in the police.

The police, whose officers and men are supposed to be at the epicentre of restoring law and order, will have to be disciplined to perform their onerous constitutional responsibility. A police force that cannot deal with its financial problems will eventually go broke and unable to perform its duties. But as we stated in a recent editorial, Nigerians are not only concerned about indiscipline and corruption in the force, they are worried about the string of crimes in their everyday life.

As many Nigerians have observed, after the Nigerian civil war, never has the security of the nation degenerated in this manner, almost to the point in which Nigeria is now practically at the edge of the abyss. Everywhere in the country today, there is the pervasive sense of fear and insecurity. Armed robberies, kidnappings and other allied crimes have conspired to paint a picture of a country practically at war with itself.
It is evident that the months ahead will not be calm, particularly because of the deteriorating economy. Therefore, Idris needs the cooperation of all, including his predecessors, to make an enormous difference in the battle ahead.