The federal government should investigate the allegations against the officers and men of the force and weed out the bad eggs
Even before the ascendancy of the “ember” months, violent crimes had been on a geometric rise in the country with kidnappers, armed robbers and other bandits maiming and killing innocent citizens at will. In this rising orgy of violence, the police appear overwhelmed. In Edo and Rivers States, for instance, people and whole communities have, in recent times, been target of attacks.
Not only have the police failed to rein in the harbingers of violence, its senior officers and men are being accused of complicity in heinous crimes that they are paid to prevent or apprehend. The charge of complicity would probably have been dismissed as frivolous if not for the fact that some of them are coming from those who have constitutional responsibility to oversight the police.
Even as the Police Service Commission (PSC), the body responsible for the regulation of the police service, announced recently that it was investigating some state command police commissioners for alleged complicity in crimes, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, who exercises operational control over the force, is not known to have done anything about the indictment of his men. In fact, he is himself facing sundry criminal allegations, including one from a serving senator.
This is unfortunate because at the root of the endemic violent crimes in the country is an obvious recourse to self-help by citizens. Today, many Nigerians feel challenged by the abysmal failure of the police and other security agencies, saddled with the responsibility of securing their lives and property, to effectively discharge their mandate. Meanwhile, the increasing loss of confidence in the ability of the police to secure the civil populace would only be worsened by the public perception of officers and men as “official” criminals.
However, what has become even more worrisome is that the comportment of IGP Idris and a couple of controversies that have inundated his tenure do not give hope that things would change for the better. Not only is there so much indiscipline under him such that the Edo State Police Commissioner, Mr Haliru Gwandu Abubakar would disregard a letter from the Police Service Commission posting him out of the state, recent allegations of corruption and nepotism levied against him have created a huge integrity deficit.
Accused of embezzlement of proceeds of security services provided to oil and sundry companies by the police as well as collecting bribes from officers for posting, Mr. Idris only counter-accused Senator Isah Misau of irregular discharge from the force. And rather than institute an enquiry into the grave allegations, the PSC denied that its oversight included the power to discipline the IGP. Next the Attorney-General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, without any investigation known to the public, charged Idris’ accuser, Misau, to court for spreading falsehood against a public officer.
However, no cases depict the level to which the police as an institution have degenerated more than that of Edo and Rivers States. In Edo, the commissioner who ought to have left the states, having been posted out, is acting as though above the law. And in Rivers, Governor Nyesom Wike recently accused the commander and men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of aiding and abetting kidnapping and other sundry crimes in the state, while exhibiting some video and documentary evidence to back his claims. Yet, the federal government has refused to intervene on these grave situations that could only worsen public cynicism and further erode the confidence of Nigerians in the police.
Therefore, the onus is now on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene by calling for an investigation of these multiple allegations against the officers and men of the force. That is the only way to rid the police of bad eggs and restore the confidence of Nigerians in the force.