Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that given the huge deficit in police relations, management of scarce resources, adherence to basic human rights, equipment acquisition and maintenance, forensic investigation, and manpower, there is indeed a compelling need for holistic police reform if the force is to be at par with global standards, as well as regain public trust
Constitutionally, the primary reasons why the police exist are to serve and protect the citizens and their properties. Although this is a global practice, same cannot be said to be totally true in Nigeria, as decades of corruption and human rights abuses have polarised the police.
Recently, a volcano erupted that heightened calls for police reforms. Constant acts of police brutality, extra-judicial killings and harassment gave birth to the #EndSARS campaign that has snowballed into calls for holistic reform of police.
With no leader, the protest, organised by youths across the nation, has held the political class in the jugular in the past 13 days and recently led to the dissolution of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), A police unit known for its gruesome acts against humanity.
The evolution of the NPF started in the then Lagos colony in 1861 when the British Consul in Lagos obtained permission from his principal in London to establish a Consular Guard comprising 30 men.
Two years later in 1863, this small body of men became known as the “Hausa Guard”. It was further regularised in 1879 by an Ordinance creating a Constabulary for the Colony of Lagos. An Inspector-General of Police commanded this force recruited mainly from Hausas and known as the “Hausa Constabulary.
Fastforward to 1891 in Calabar, an armed constabulary was formed. In 1893 the area was proclaimed the Niger Coast. Niger Coast constabulary was then formed in 1894 in Calabar under the Niger Coast Protectorate. On January 1, 1896, the Lagos Police Force was created and armed like the “Hausa Constabulary” and in 1906, the Lagos Police Force and part of the Niger Coast Constabulary became the southern Nigeria Police Force, while the bulk of the Niger Coast Constabulary formed the southern Nigeria Regiments.
After the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 both police forces continued to operate separately until April 1, 1930 when they were merged to form the present Nigeria Police Force with Headquarters in Abuja.
Chronicles of Inspector Generals of Police
From independence to date, the NPF has a had a total of 18 IGs, beginning with the first indigenous IG, Louis Edet who was there from 1964 to 1966.
Next in line was Kam Salem who was IG from 1966 to 1975. The third IG from 1975 to 1979 was Muhammadu Dikko Yusufu. Fourth in the line was Adamu Suleiman from 1979 to 1981 and then Sunday Adewusi took over from 1981 to 1983 before handing over to Etim Inyang who headed the force from 1985 to 1986.
The seventh IG was Muhammadu Gambo-Jimeta, who held the helm of affairs from 1986 to 1990 and then Aliyu Atta from 1990 to 1993. Atta then handed over to the ninth IG, Ibrahim Coomassie who was there from 1993 to 1999. The 10th IG was Musiliu Smith who was there from 1999 to 2002.
The 11th and most popular IG was Mustafa Adebayo Balogun fondly called Tafa. He was IG from 2002 to 2005 and was forced to retire because of widespread charges of corruption in January 2005. The 12th IG from 2005 to 2007 was Sunday Ehindero.
Replacing him as the 13th IG was Mike Mbama Okiro from 2007 to 2009, before Enugu-born Ogbonna Okechukwu Onovo was saddled with the same responsibility from 2009 to 2010. The 15th IG was Hafiz Ringim who was there from 2010 to January 2012, after which Mohammed Abubakar made IG from that same 2012 to July 2014 and then handed over to Suleiman Abba.
Abba held the helm of affairs to 2015 and handed over to Solomon Arase, who held sway from 2015 to 2016 and handed over to Ibrahim Idris Kpotum, who occupied the seat from 2016 to 2019 before handing over to Mohammed Adamu, who occupies the seat till date.
In total, the police force number consists of about 372 000 officers and men in about 2,000 police posts, divisions, commands and zones. The police consist of 36 teams that are spread across the country and are classified into 12 respective zones and are operated by the seven various administrative organs.
Under those 12 zones are over 6,500 field formations and a breakdown of the staff strength are 22,484 officers and 499,769 rank and file.
Headed by an Inspector General of Police (IG), the NPF management team consists of the seven departmental heads, with the force secretary and the IG at its head.
The order of ranking thus starts from the IG to the DIG, then AIG, before the CP, then the DCP before the ACP. Others in the hierarchy include the CSP, the SP, the DSP and the ASP.
For the rank and file, the hierarchy begins with the Inspector then the Sergeant Major before the Sergeant, and then corporal before the constable as guided by the regulation 273 of the Police Regulation, Cap 359 laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1990.
For the unititated, the NPF is divided into different sections to enhance operations. The different operations include- administration, anti-fraud section, central criminal registry, special anti-robbery squad (now defunct), x-squad (the disciplinary arm), general investigation, special fraud unit, legal section, forensic science laboratory, interpol liaison, homicide, anti-human trafficking, special branch (criminal and special investigation bureau), the force CID investigation, Kaduna annex and counter terrorism unit.
According to reports, a police recruit’s salary per month is N9,019.42 while per annum is N108,233; that of the Constable Grade Level 03’s salary per month is N43, 293.80 while annual salary is N519,525.6; a Constable Grade Level 10’s salary per month is N51,113.59 while annual salary is N613,363.08.
For a Police Corporal on Grade 04 (1)’s, the salary per month is N44,715.53 while annual salary is N536,586.36; Corporal on Grade Level 04 (10)’s salary per month is N51,113.59 and annual salary is N613,365.08; and police Sergeant on Grade 05 (step1)’s salary per month is N48,540.88 and the annual salary is N582,490.56.
That of a police Sergeant on Grade 05 (step 10)’s salary is N55,973.84 and annual salary is N671,686.08; a Sergeant Major on Grade 06 (step 1)’s salary is N55,144.81 and the annual salary is N661,737.72; and a Sergeant Major on Grade 06 (step 10)’s salary is N62,204.88 and annual salary is N746,458.56.
For a Cadet Inspector on Grade Level 07 (step1), the salary is N73,231.51 while annual salary is N878,778.12; a Cadet Inspector on Grade 07 (step10)’s salary per month is N87,135.70 while the annual salary is N1,045,628.4.
That of an Assistant Superintendent of Police on Grade 08 (step1) is N127,604.68 per month with annual salary at N1,531,256.16; Assistant Superintendent of Police on Grade 08 (step10)’s salary per month is N144,152.07 while annual salary is N1,729,824.84; Assistant Superintendent of Police in Grade 09 (step1)’s salary per month is N136, 616.06 while annual salary is N1,639,392.72.
An Assistant Superintendent of Police on Grade 09 (step10) is on N156,318.39 per month while annual salary is N1,875,820.68; Deputy Superintendent of Police on Grade 10 (step1)’s Salary per month is N148,733.29 and his Annual Salary is N1,784,799.48; and Deputy Superintendent of Police on Grade 10 (step10)’s salary per month is N170,399.69 while annual salary is N2,044,796.28.
The Superintendent of Police on Grade 11 (step1)’s salary per month is N161,478.29 while annual salary is N1,937,739.48; a Superintendent of Police on Grade 11 (step 10)’s salary per month is N187,616.69 while annual salary is N2,251400.28; and Chief of Superintendent of Police on Grade 12 (step1)’s salary per month is N172,089.06 while annual salary is N2,065,068.72.
That of the Chief of Superintendent of Police on Grade 12 (step 8)’s salary per month is N199,723.96 while annual salary is N2,396,687.52; an Assistant Commissioner of Police Grade 13 (step1)’s salary per month is N183,185.73 while annual salary is N2,198,228.76; and an Assistant Commissioner of Police Grade 13 (step10)’s salary is N212,938.16 while annual salary is N2,555,257.92.
For the Deputy Commissioner of Police on Grade 14 (step1)’s salary its pegged at N242,715.65 while annual salary is N2,912,587.8; Deputy Commissioner of Police on Grade 14 (step7)’s salary is N278,852.79 while annual salary is N3,346,233.48; and Commissioner of Police on Grade 15 (step1)’s salary per month is N266,777.79 while annual salary is N3,201,333.48.
The Commissioner of Police on Grade 15 (step 6)’s salary per month is N302,970.47 while annual salary is N3,635,645.64; an Assistant Inspector General of Police’s salary per month is N499,751.87 while annual salary is N5,997,022.44; a Deputy Inspector General of Police’s salary per month is N546,572.73 while annual salary is N6,558,872.76; and the Inspector General of Police, (IG) as the highest-ranked officer in the police gets N711,498 as monthly salary while his annual salary is N8,537,976.
Although to the layman, nothing good can ever come out of the police, but they have recorded considerable gains in some areas.
In peace keeping efforts, the NPF has over the last 50 years, deployed men and resources towards keeping the peace in Africa and so far, over 20, 000 have been deployed to various United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS peace support operations and they have almost always returned with commendations.
Apart from that, other welfare packages like housing, mortgage policy and efficient cooperative society, have been restructured to ensure that every policeman benefits from the scheme which started with the 5000 housing unit in Abuja. The police have also been able to address some deficits in the medical wing.
Also, the police have gone ahead to establish its own mortgage finance bank to carter for the loans of its officers. Although it later ended up in controversy. Also, thousands of policemen have been sent on training on intelligence gathering to enable them cope with contemporary times.
In the area of ICT, they have recorded speed marking changes in some cases as against past records when things were done manually and made investigations drag out ever slowly.
Although the number of patrol vehicles can never be enough in the face of the growing population and its needs, the police have upped their game in terms of providing patrol vans, which when again compared to the past, is a milestone.
To critics however, the ills far outweigh the the achievements recorded over the years and this is buttressed by the so many negative actions of the police.
The police have continually been riddled with complaints of extra-judicial killing, detention without trial, corruption, inefficiency regarding maintenance of law and order, excessive and recurrent waves of brutalities, abductions, unwarranted searches and violations of privacy and private family life, extra-bodily injury, intimidation and harassment.
Another ill facing the police is corruption and it is believed that this is widespread. Although it is believed that corruption is endemic to the society, many however argue that the police should be above this seeing that they are expected to be moral as law enforcement agents.
But on the other hand, indisciplined policemen involve themselves in crime by conspiring with criminals to perpetuate crime, thus exposing them for their lack of integrity.
Another ill is the perversion of the course of justice by either procuring and supplying false evidence, tampering with exhibit and false accusations to favour their camp.
The police have times without number been accused of sexual exploitations as was what happened in September 2005, when Nigeria withdrew 120 police officers serving in the UN Congo mission because of accusations that they had engaged in sexual abuses.
Meanwhile, their ills would not be complete without a mention of the brazen atrocities of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Squad Tactical Team (STS), the anti- cultism and anti-kidnapping units. Although SARS recently became defunct, they were known to have carried out Illict oppression of civilians, harassment and even killings.
Whilst all would rather blame the police for failing in their various responsibilities as the watchdog of the society, it however, is important to note that they face certain critical inadequacies which if not tackled, would further damage the already battered image.
It is therefore stating the obvious that one of the challenges facing the police is inadequate manpower, both in terms of quantity and quality. Also, the issue of inadequate funding comes to fore too.
Again, despite the boost in salary, the poor remuneration and general condition of service can be improved upon to ensure that the policemen who are always in the line of fire are taken care off.
Another challenge is the issue of lack of maintenance structure as shown by the dilapidated housing units, equipment and rickety patrol vehicles seen on the roads. This has often been blamed on poor resource management.
One of the major challenge facing the police is that of inadequate logistics to procure the much needed arms and ammunition, uniform and other accoutrement, which you often see policemen buying for themselves, as against international best practices.
Whilst the policemen are expected to be out there fighting our wars, they face the challenge of inadequate office and residential accommodation and some often live under inhumane conditions.
The police cells are not left out of this uninhabitable living conditions as shown by cells at different police stations, where suspects are subjected to its terrible state.
Another challenge is the break in communication between the police and the public whom they are supposed to protect. While the public sees the police as their enemy, the police in turn see them as lower beings they can squash under their foot.
The force is also saddled with endemic challenges like recruiting and training inefficient and indisciplined personnel who lack expertise in specialised fields and show a low commitment to duty.
The challenge of the poor knowledge of law and disregard for human rights can never be understated as it is one of the issues facing the police.
For a force that was established to protect, the remunerations have been poor. To sustain a police division, the command headquarters disburse a measly N50,000. From that poor fund, they are expected to buy stationary, sustain patrols and buy other equipment, little wonder policemen collect kickbacks for sustenance.
Also, the fund usually set aside to pay informants is no longer given, neither the money to treat injured personnel. Rather, what is obtainable is that divisional police officers have to source for funds for the treatment of any wounded personnel.
But those in the know told THISDAY that the issue of funding, although never adequate, has continually been increased in recent times. Checks by THISDAY seem to support their claims.
Just last week, the federal government presented the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the lawmakers and in that allocation, if approved, the police would get a whopping N447.6 billion.
In the last four years, the allocations have increased and the difference has been around N40 billion. A further breakdown clarified that the 2021 proposed allocation increased to N447.6 billion from N403.45 billion allocated in 2020, which is about an 11 per cent increase while the 2020 allocation increased from N366.13 billion allocated in 2019 with about 10 per cent increase, just as the increase from 2018 was N324.2 billion, an increase of about N42 billion.
However, despite the increase over the years, the police hierarchy have been vocal in explaining that they are still running at a deficit, especially with the numerous security challenges that crop up everyday.
This year, the total amount allocated to the police was N403,709,451,000 and according to the police, while the recurrent expenditure makes up 96.4 per cent of the budget, capital expenditure is 3.6 per cent, a figure they insist is low considering the scale of capital investment required to upgrade the moribund facilities and equipment of the service.
But for stakeholders, the crux of the matter is good management of lean resources. Speaking on anonymity, a source familiar with police budget and spending, told THISDAY that money would never be enough because security challenges are will never elapse.
Clarifying, he said one must make do with what is available and at the same time, ensure the security architecture is not disrupted. “I earlier mentioned being good managers of resources, I will explain. Granted that the funding given does not cut it, the question should however be, what was done with the one allocated and disbursed?
“At this stage when one knows the lean resources would not cover the problems on ground, this is where priority comes in and prudence in managing funds. Yet you see people padding budget for contracts, collecting money for projects done and even being awarded contracts and a shoddy job is done because profit was put ahead.”
Also, recall that to fix this deficit in funding, the Police Trust Fund was borne in 2019 when the National Assembly adopted the Police Trust Fund Act. As a special intervention fund for training and retraining of personnel of the police and for the provision of state of the art security equipment and other related facilities required by the police, the fund is meant to benefit from a levy of 0.005 per cent on the net profit of companies operating business in Nigeria; 0.5 per cent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account; as well as proceeds from grants, aids, gifts, donations, and investment income.
The bill was passed by the National Assembly in April 2019 and signed into law by the President in June 2019, but its commencement began with the inauguration of the board in May 2020, a clear 11 months after the president assented to the bill passed by the National Assembly.
A workman without tools labours in vain. This can be said of the police. With no provision for work tools (except for their guns and ammunition, a typical policeman buys his uniforms, shoes, and even writing materials to take statements), the force can be said to have been set up to fail.
Undeniably, lack of adequate equipment and tools is a major challenge for the police.
In some stations, it’s not out of place to see rickety vehicles, derelict houses and even out of date equipment.
As at the last count, 120,000 police personnel have been deployed to safeguard the Very Important Persons (VIPs). This means that you to 40 per cent of officers are on personal guard duties. Already, the citizen/police ratio in Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million people, stands at one police officer for every 600 citizen, or about 200 police officers per 100,000 people.
This falls short of the global average, according to data from the United Nations, which indicated that it should be about 340 police officers per 100,000 people. The UN also recommends a minimum police strength of 220 per 100,000 people.
But regardless of inadequate manpower, anyone that can afford to pay for their services gets an officer.
Inadequate Intelligence Gathering, Investigation
Unlike what is globally accepted, the Nigeria Police arrest, before carrying out investigations. Often times, they parade them before members of the press and brand them criminals based on the accusation of a complainant.
Also, the norm is to carry out indiscriminate raids and pick up whomever they see on sight and brand them criminals. Those who are able to bribe their way out are released, while others are locked up and taken to court on trumped up charges.
Globally, most developed nations have central crime database, where an offender is flagged and can be identified even if he leaves the state for another. That is not applicable with the Nigeria Police. This explains why a suspect can be arrested thrice for the same offence and he still goes back to the society.
Many security analysts have continually called out the police for their inefficiency in crime prevention, criminal investigation, and even response to distress calls. According to them, investigations should begin with intelligence gathering, analysis of information gotten before arrest is made and not the other way round.
Despite the landmark they have achieved in ICT so far, there is still room for improvement in managing crime, as well as bridging the operational information gap which interms of data collection is often marred by inaccurate recording and collation, poor storage and retrieval, inadequate analysis and infrequent publication of criminal statistics.
For instance, in most stations and divisions, fingerprint searching and matching is still done manually on paper cards using hand-held magnifying glass.
Loopholes in Promotion
A poorly motivated force is a ticking time bomb that will explode one day. The police readily fits into this bill. Checks revealed that the low morale of the workforce stems not just from poor welfare, terrible living conditions but also
disaffection caused by discrepancies in promotion.
The uneven promotion of officers to the detriment of their coursemates has been a fodder for low morale. THISDAY checks revealed that some promotions can skip an officer twice or even twice, leaving them below as their coursemates climb the ladder. Time and time again, the service has been riddled with allegations of selling promotion to the highest bidder.
Another challenge is the lack of meaningful insurance (given the risk they take on a daily basis). Ordinarily, law enforcement liability insurance provides coverage for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage caused by a wrongful act committed by or on behalf of a public entity while conducting law enforcement activities or operations.
But just last year November, it was revealed that the federal government through the Office of the Head of Service (HOS) of the Federation has not insured men and officers of the Nigeria Police since June 2019 as it has failed to pay the insurance premium for their coverage, thus putting their insurance coverage at risk.
For a security force that should thrive on discipline, a break in chain of command often ripples down the ladder, with the resultant effect being chaotic. Little wonder the indiscipline that reigns supreme in the force.
In subverting discipline, the police do not give recourse to the fact that its actions are undermining democracy and creates an enabling environment for instability and chaos to reign supreme.
Despite many attempts by the leadership of the police to enforce discipline and even sack a few bad eggs, improper conduct by the police undermine their ability to fight the pervasive insecurity across the country.
Over the years, one of the welfare challenges that bugged the police was their pension. Like civilians, it was a long road to Golgotha as some even died in the process. Year in, year out, the policemen have been groaning over poor retirement benefits since the introduction of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) with the Pension Reform Act of 2004, a scheme that crippled their rights to be paid after years of dedicating their lives to the service of this nation.
In the police structure, the Police Pension Office (PPO) was initially established by degree 75 of 1993 as an extra department under the Ministry of Police Affairs and existed as such up until November, 2013 when it became a department under the newly established Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
The Police Pension Department is responsible for the payment of Gratuity and Pension of Police pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) i.e pensioners who retired on or before June 30, 2007 and did not transit to the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
Although their functions were to ensure regular and timely payment of pensions to retirees, payment of death benefits and entitlements to Next of Kins (NOK’S) of deceased officers, amongst others, it was not always so until recent times when a three-day investigative hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Pensions brought succor.
After the committee sat, it was a huge boost for the management of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Pensions Limited and its clients, policemen, as its request for the approval of a special gratuity for police retirees at the rate of 300 per cent of their last annual gross pay was endorsed by the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp).
In its submission, the operators who insisted that the major challenge faced by pension management was the backlog of accrued rights and pension arrears owed by the Federal Government, endorsed the demands of NPF Pensions Limited.
However overflogged the cliche ‘man is a product of its environment’ has become, it has nonetheless proven to be true times without number. For the men of the police force, their sometimes irascible behaviour are often blamed on their environment and living conditions.
Whilst the policemen are expected to be out there fulfilling their constitutional responsibilities in either internal security or mediating in civil cases, they often times face the challenge of inadequate office and residential accommodation and some often live under inhumane and pitiable conditions. More sad is the fact that most of these officers who have served meritoriously before retirement are often left in the lurch once their service year is over.
Recently, there has been a spike in police brutality in Lagos despite constant dismissal of such offenders, but it is inherent to examine the effect of unfit and uninhabitable barracks on the psyche of police, especially in their relationship with the civil populace.
From the PMF barracks in Keffi to the barracks in Gowon Estate to those in Obalende, Oduduwa in Ikeja, Queens in Apapa, Igbogbo in Ikorodu, Iru in Victoria Island, and Olosan in Mushin, amongst several others like Pedro and Iponri, the terrible state of police barracks in Lagos tell a story of mismanagement, total disregard for the welfare of personnel.
According to Charles Omole, s governance expert, the police battle with institutional challenges. He said: “The Police Service Commission (PSC), the civilian oversight body of the police, has no independent capacity to investigate or ‘police’ the police force.
“Complaints against Nigerian police officers made to the PSC end up being investigated by the police itself, who then report to the PSC. This lack of an independent complaints system is unsatisfactory.
“It is part of why internal discipline is weak and a corporate culture of excellence in service delivery does not exist in the force. For this reason, there is no framework for rating police commands or measuring their effectiveness.”
Is State Police the Way Out?
When the #EndSARS protest started, one thing that stood out was the helplessness of the governors in the face of police brutality.
In Lagos, the police raised arms against peaceful and unarmed protesters and even killed some. When cases of brutality of protesters were brought before the state government, even with calls from the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to the Area C Command to release them, it was a Herculean task.
It took additional intervention from Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and Member, Lagos State House of Assembly, Desmond Elliot, and a battalion of lawyers before they could be released.
For the police in a state that is hugely dependent on the Lagos State Trust Fund to survive, it was quite telling that they do not take instructions from the governor despite accepting funds and equipment from state pockets.
This has brought to the fore the danger inherent in centralising operational control of the police in the hands of the president.
As rightly pointed out by many security analysts, the only way out is to ensure a clear-cut separation of powers between the government, in this case the president and the police.
According to Ibrahim Jibrin, director, International Human Rights Law Group in Nigeria and previously an Associate Professor of Political Science at Ahmadu Bello University, for law enforcement agencies to continue to play their constitutional role however, it is imperative that they are not used in a partisan manner.
Quoting Section 215 of the 1999 Constitution, he said it gives powers to the president, acting on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council to appoint the Inspector General of Police.
On the flipside, he said under sub-section 3 of section 215 of the same Constitution, the president is also empowered to give lawful directives with respect to the maintenance of law and order to the IG and he shall comply or cause them to be complied with.
Harping on the balancing clause that the presidency often neglects, he said there is an equivalent provision in section 215 (4), which creates such relationship between a state governor and a commissioner of police. He noted that in today’s order, it’s often disregarded, at least for governors that are in the opposition.
According to Omole, the way the police are organised is the reason community policing is ineffective.
“State Commissioners of Police take instructions from the IG, who receives instructions from the president, rather than from state governors. The over-centralised structure of the police does not help it to connect with communities as it should.
“The current command structure of the police was created by the military governments prior to 1999 and has not changed despite over two decades of democratic governments.”
Thus, he advocated that the legal framework of the police should be changed to provide security of tenure for IGs because with the law on ground, the IG has to obey all orders given by the president – whether lawful or not.
He said these legal constraints make manipulation of the police by any president very easy, adding that the president can easily remove any IG that does not play ball, reason why we have had about 13 IGs in 15 years.
The effects of the aforementioned challenges lead to lack of public trust, which translates to a lacuna because no police can work in isolation of the people.
Again, it would be stating the obvious to say that there is lack of trust for the police by the public. Years of police brutality is to blame for this. Although they are generally feared, they are in fact despised.
For the police to be at par with global standards, there are key issues that must be addressed.
In terms of investigation, the police need to create a data base of crime, which would go a long way to boost investigation. Also the police should push for the establishment of a central fingerprint centre were the fingerprints of Nigerians and others are captured and stored, to be retrieved to match fingerprints obtained at crime scenes as a crime-fighting tool.
Again, training and re-training are key for the police reformation. Also, there is need for a stringent code of conduct that would address all human rights abuses such as indiscriminate arrests, intimidation and extortion as well as misuse of firearms. This should also address the issue of paying money for bail, which the police still insist is free.
Also, there is a need, under the police reform, for the establishment of an independent complaint authority to receive and investigate and effectively deal with complaints against police officers’ misconduct from the public and ensure appropriate prosecution.
The police need to give welfare of personnel adequate attention. From commensurate salaries to better accommodation, adequate insurance, pension, the reform should cut across board.
As a matter of urgency, the police need ethical reorientation geared towards attitudinal change. Also, increasing the workforce to be at par with global standards and also giving promotions when due without being bribed to do so, are reforms that should be taken seriously.
While the Police Trust Fund should be judiciously used to tackle the issue of funding expenditure and needs, the new Police Act should be implemented to the latter.
Although many argue that effective policing in Nigeria is almost impossible because of the constraints faced by the police, which has given leeway for various misconducts and unprofessional behaviours, can the same apply for other fields? Can a doctor be unprofessional because he is not duly paid?
Some would argue the job of a doctor is different from the police, but many would beg to differ- they both deal with lives and as long as the right to life remains sacrosanct, there is need for the police to remain overboard despite inherent challenges and protect the lives they swore to guard.
Thus, to ensure holistic reforms, the police must be effective and efficient in the prevention and control of crime, detection, apprehension and prosecution of offenders without recourse to unwholesome practices.
But this can only be achieved by diligent observance of the rule of law, protection and recognition of individual’s dignity and rights, by acknowledging that they are accountable to the citizens whose tax money are used to fund them.
However, the ball lies in the court of President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate a comprehensive restructuring of the force to better position it to tackle contemporary challenges.
Beyond paying lip service at reforms, for the Nigeria Police to be at par with global standards, there must be a genuine and holistic overhaul of the entire system from tackling corruption, to funding, welfare, training, equipment, manpower, and building public trust again.