Holistic Reformation for the Police

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Chiemelie Ezeobi, Rebecca Ejifoma and Oluwabunmi Fache, who monitored the recent interview of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu on ARISE NEWS Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, report that aside the critically-needed holistic reformation of the police, other equally important issues like decentralisation of police powers for optimum performance, the EndSARS protest, salary and pension upgrade, standardised training for the police, and need for modern policing equipment, were tackled

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 despite past reformatory attempts by different inspectors general of police.

But despite these partial reforms, over the years, there has been a huge deficit in police relations, management of scarce resources, adherence to basic human rights, equipment acquisition and maintenance, forensic investigation, and manpower.

It is therefore no gainsaying that 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.

Championing these reforms of late is the 20th Inspector General (IG) of Police, Mohammed Adamu. According to him, since assumption of office in 2019, he has championed the cause for better pay for officers and men, modern equipment and even training.

In a recent interview on ARISE NEWS Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, the IG tackled some of these issues including decentralisation of police powers for optimum performance, the EndSARS protest, salary and pension upgrade, standardised training for the police, reforms and need for modern policing equipment.

Inaugural Address

When he assumed office, Adamu, in his inaugural address, identified the absence of transparent, knowledgeable, accountable and motivational leadership as the problem of policing in Nigeria, adding that his appointment represents a charge to restore the image of the force.

Speaking after the baton of leadership was officially handed over to him, Adamu said he was determined to combine his national and international policing exposure to bridge the missing link in the Force.

He said: “My appointment represents a call to duty and a charge to restore the dwindling primacy of the Nigeria Police Force within the internal security architecture of our beloved country. All that you desire, from my experience, is a transparent, responsive, motivational, accountable, and knowledgeable leader who will not only treat you with the dignity you deserve in your line of duty, but who is sensitive to your welfare needs and fair in the manner your promotion and other reward regimes are addressed. The absence of this level of leadership has always been the missing link in policing in Nigeria.

“It is my firm conviction, therefore, that if the quality personnel potentials of the force are blended with purposeful and motivational leadership at strategic levels within the organizational hierarchy of the Force, the lost glory of the Nigeria Police Force which remains a concern to governments at all levels, citizens, human rights groups, the international community and indeed well-meaning officers and men of the force shall be restored.

“With my appointment and assumption of duty, I am determined to draw on my national and international policing leadership experience to bridge this missing link. I assure you on this day that I will provide the highest possible level of professional and responsible leadership for you while trusting that you shall march hand-in-hand with me as dependable professional colleagues, to advance the fortunes of the force.

“I demand that you henceforth resolve to abstain from conducts that will drag the police into disrepute and put your career in jeopardy, and join me in the common course of changing the narratives of policing in the country for good.“

Journey so Far

Giving an update of the journey so far at the ARISE interview, Adamu said upon assumption of office, his first task was the 2019 presidential elections. “When I was appointed as the IG of Police it was at the eve of the 2019 general elections and we were saddled with the responsibility of making sure we provide free, fair and credible election. And that entailed a lot of things to be done in terms of identifying our officers that we met on ground, whose morale were down, through training and retraining on what is required for them to understand what is required of them for the general elections to be conducted free and fair.

“Then the deployment of the required resources. We sat down, and strategised with INEC staff and also the hardcore staff and collaborating with other security agencies for us to to be able to have a free, fair, and credible elections. That we did successfully. The NGOS and observers that came attested to that.

“Apart from the general elections we met, it was challenging that time. We inherited issues of banditry, kidnapping and activities of again kidnappers along Abuja/Kaduna road. We needed to do something to deal with the situation. If you remember, Zamfara was like epicentre of kidnapping and banditry. Again, a new strategy needed to be out in place to put the situation to order. I had to sit down with the new governor elected.

“ I went to Zamfara with my team and had a discussion with the stakeholders there, bought the ethnic groups fighting themselves including the Fulani’s and the traditional rulers, and religious leaders. We sat down, and ironed out and identified what the problems were, and resolved to solve them. Collectively, with connective efforts and negotiations we were able to arrest a lot of kidnappers, bandits, some of the bandits surrendered willingly. Kidnapped victims were released. Today, Zamfara is no more the epicentre of kidnapping and banditry.

“Abuja/Kaduna road was also an issue. Again, we had to come up with an operation, Operation Gagwada, where officers were given special training for them to intervene day and night when banditry and kidnapping were prevalent. Our priority was to clear Abuja/Kaduna road, which we did successfully.”

“Then we moved to another area that was very disturbing in terms of attacks, which is around Binugwari in Kaduna State. There is a place called Kuduru, headquarters of bandits. We had to strategise, got the equipment necessary to fight and got officers that are trained to go and do the fighting. So we entered that forest and dislodged the kidnappers and the extremists there.”

Pay Upgrade

Also on ARISE News Channel, Adamu said it was in a bid to boost the morale of police personnel that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the upgrade of police salary structure.

Admitting that the police do not have same salary structure with other federal civil servants, he said: “In terms of the salary of the personnel, the Nigeria police personnel don’t have same salary scale with other staff of the federal civil service.

It is a different structure. Still, it needs improvement. Because of the realisation that for this thing to be better taken care of, get better pay, this government has already given approval for upgrading the salary of police personnel at all level.

“There is a committee now working. In fact, one of my staff got in the meeting on the upgrading of police salary to a better level that every police office will feel proud that when he takes that salary monthly there is no basis of anybody coming to entice him with money to compromise.”

Pension

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.

But now, the situation is about to change as police pensioners are also expected to benefit from the president’s gesture. On pension, Adamu also commended the federal government for approving the Police Pension since the one on ground now is not serving retired police officers very well.

He said: “So there is a scheme that is ongoing that police will be completely removed from that scheme to a different scheme which other services are enjoying and getting better pension.

A committee from the office of the SGF and PENCOM for the Nigeria police to get out of that existing pension structure to the new one so that we can have a better pension when you leave office.

“For example, in the public service, when the permanent secretary retires, he goes on with the salary he takes as his pension. In other services, people of that level go same way. So why shouldn’t it be the same in the police? That is not the case now. But this government is correcting that error. When you reach certain level, you can go home with your salary as your pension.”

Training

On training, the police boss said there are many areas that require reform in the police just as he stressed the need for a change in police training curriculum from a regimented system into a more problem-solving curriculum that police officers should know.

Noting that the police colleges have a training curriculum that is out of date with modern policing, he said the police have started the process of changing them to fit modern policing, adding that instead of the regimented type of curriculum that was being thought, the force now has more problem-solving curriculum that police officers should know.

Modern Equipment

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.

In some stations, it’s not out of place to see rickety vehicles, derelict houses and even out of date equipment and this was made worse by the recent violence that marked the hijacked #EndSARS protest.

Addressing the need of adequate equipment, Adamu said: “The personnel themselves, the kind of logistics they require for them to police the society requires a modern type of logistics, which are difficult to come by. But gradually, the authority understood the need for modern equipment that is needed for doing policing instead of moving around the streets without firearms in volatile areas and the standard operating procedure for engagement is not commensurate with the level of crime in the society, all those ones needs changing.”

Reforms

On reforms, the IG further noted that almost every successive administration in the history of Nigeria tends to come with one police reform or the other, adding that different committees had been set up.

“We had Ahmed Ali committee, we had the MD Yusuf committee; we had Parry Osayande committee on police reforms. Police work within the society, the society is dynamic so the function of the police is also dynamic,” he said.

#EndSARS Protest

Addressing one of the most trying times faced by the police- the #EndSARS protest, the IG lamented that it was started by fake news over the alleged death of someone, which turned out to be false. He noted that when the viral video started off the protest, he engaged the youths and even human rights organisations, adding that even when the presidency acceded to the demands of the protesters, they refused to leave the streets, which later led to violence.

Lamenting the violence faced by policemen and their stations during the protest, he said “When these people came in multitude, attacking police stations and police property, the expectations of some people were that police should use firearms and kill. You can’t kill your people. So police showed maximum restraint, professionalism and made sure that they did not create fatality during the protest.

“The protest was not even on police property alone. Corporate organisations were destroyed, individual houses and businesses were destroyed including media houses; hence, we vowed that never again in the history of this country will we allow such violence to take place. Let me also correct the impression that policemen were not seen somewhere. You destroyed the police station that was built within your community to protect lives and properties, where do you want the police officers to be?

“The police officers that neither lost their lives nor got injured moved to the headquarters. They were doing their police duties daily, but within the communities where the stations were destroyed, no place for them to stay. They never for one day abandoned their jobs. With all that happened, as human beings, the morale of the personnel went down. I had to go round and reassured them that what they did in dealing with the situation was professional. They saved the country from more anarchy by not being provoked to the extent by using their firearms to kill people. At the end of it, a lot of arrest was made of those who attacked people and vandalised public property. They were taken to court in different states.

“We have arrested and charged to court some of the masterminds of the protests. We are looking for those who are on the run. We have evidence that they sponsored the protest. They masterminded it. We are looking for them to face the music. This is a country that has laws, and the laws must be obeyed. There is no country in the name of peaceful protest will cause violence and you say you will go free. It is never done. “

Addressing the issue of compensation for police families who lost their loved ones on active duty, Adamu said: “For most officers that lost their lives or were injured, we have a system in place for compensation. The federal government put in place some processes for their compensation. Some state governments have also taken it upon themselves to compensate them and their families.

“On our own part, we motivated those who were injured and those that died by promoting them to a higher rank so that they feel encouraged to do more. These are people that didn’t abandon their duty post; they stayed and tried to protect their police stations. Although they were overwhelmed, they survived and needed to be compensated.”

Decentralisation of Powers

As part of the several reforms contained in the Police Act 2020 to revitalise the law enforcement agency to tackle the nation’s security challenges, Adamu said decentralisation of the police came to being. According to him, Commissioners of Police (CPs) in state commands and divisional police officers (DPOs) have been invested with more powers in discharging their responsibilities.

Adamu revealed that implementation has begun already in the 36 states of the country, adding that commissioners of police manning those states do not need his approval before taking decisions in their areas of responsibility (AOR).

He further stated that the areas the CPs take charge are not limited to administrative duties but extends to and criminality and maintaining law and order.

According to the IG, state commissioners of police do not need to get approvals from his office or the office of the Assistant-inspector general of police in charge of the zone before taking decisions in their states.

“The decision-making structure in the police needs to be decentralised. Not everything should come to the commissioner of police for a decision to take. Not everything should come to the Assistant-inspector general in the zone a decision to take and not everything should come to the Inspector-general for the IG to make a decision. Decision must be decentralised.

“And so in reforming the police, we believe and we’ve started implementing it, that the structure we have, yes we have one Inspector-general of police but in every state command we have Commissioners of police who are in charge of that state and the state has a government with a governor.

“So the commissioner of police responsibilities and area of jurisdiction and powers stay within that state and is to work with the governor and implement policies of government of that state in areas of crime and criminality and law and order. He doesn’t need to refer to the Inspector-general for any decision to be taken. The Commissioner of police must have the ability to take the decision himself.

“The same thing with the DPO (Divisional Police Officer) at a local government area. There’s a local government authority there with the chairman of the local government and his council, the DPO is part of the council. So any matters on security, crime and criminality discussed within the local government must be implemented there, the DPO must take decision without waiting for the commissioner of police to tell him what to do.”

Summarily, the IG, while speaking on police relationship with the general public, said policing the society is not to cause hardship for people, but to serve them- a crucial factor that should be indoctrinated in both officers and men if the much touted police reform would work.