No doubt, the task of reinventing the Nigeria Police Force for its constitutional role in governance, especially in this regime of Change can be cumbersome and tasking. Against the backdrop of the encounters many had had with some members of the Force in the years gone by, current development among the personnel indicates that something new is happening in the Force under IGP Solomon Arase.
I recall that when he assumed office last year, one of his first directives sent out to officers and men was the order to dismantle road blocks. Nigerians applauded the move, saying that it will ease movement on our roads and highways as well as check the excesses of some police personnel who act beyond their official briefs for such duty. But then too, there was the argument that dismantling the road blocks could compromise the nation’s security given the then towering insurgency level, especially in the North-east flank of the country.
However, through more apt strategies, the police have since obeyed the directive even as they are contributing largely in the successful prosecution of the insurgency war as well as winning the war against other criminal acts in the society nationwide.
But the IGP was not lost on the fact that to achieve greater success in his assigned beat, the Force would need more personnel including financial difficulties and non-rehabilitation of police training schools.
Thus, it was not unexpected that President Muhammadu Buhari was to approve the recruitment of no fewer than 10,000 more policemen to beef up adequate policing of the country. Even at that, IGP Arase did not jump at actualising the presidential order. After Force-wide consultations, he resolved that as the additional number of police officers and men expected to be recruited, there would be needed fund to back up the envisaged recurrent expenditure over-shoot.
Hopefully, the fresh police recruitment would be carried out this year with appropriate budgetary backing. The IGP’s aides swear that their principal is bent on making sure that planned additional police recruitment process is transparent, jettisoning the old practice of collecting money from those who want to enlist to the police.
Not a public officer to disobey lawful orders, the IGP did not waste time and neither did he mince words in carrying out a presidential directive that the number of police officers attached to dignitaries on permanent basis be immediately and substantially reduced. In complying with the order, the IGP has ensured that policemen withdrawn from guarding the high-ranked officials return to their regular duties.
In the same vein, the rather sad sight of police officers carrying boxes and bags as well as doing household chores for VIPs which was commonplace under past police administrations is fast fading away as Arase has dared officers and men to break the directive in this regard.
A somewhat welcome relief for hitherto, worried Nigerians is coming into the Force since the Arase administration started; with the warning by the Police Chief months into office that unnecessary arrest and detention of suspects would attract serious consequences to the affected officers.
According to the IGP at that occasion in Gombe not too long ago, suspects should not be detained without sufficient evidence to back the detention. True? Yes; it’s true. Hear him:
“I am against keeping people in custody, unless you have sufficient evidence against them.
“That is why, those of you who were in training now were being taught intelligence- base policing.
“That your investigation must be intelligence- driven, must be evidential, you must have sufficient evidence before you will invite somebody to the station.
“The issue of keeping people long in the cell before you start looking for evidence is no longer accepted. We are facing challenges, the money we use in settling human rights abuses is supposed to be channelled to your own welfare.
“The custody approach of policing was not the right approach except on cases where you know you do not have the competence to release people on bail, and is not supposed to be monetized.
’’ By the time you settle parties that came in contact with you, you develop friendship and your relationship with members of the public is further enhanced.”
Can you beat that: a new policing strategy that requires officers to settle parties to any dispute as a first step instead of the out-moded distasteful arrest-and-detain tactics that destroys relationships instead of building and rebuilding them?
Who is Arase?
His manifold achievements in office within the less than one year he has sway atop Louis Edet House, Abuja has caused many to wonder what manner of police officer the IGP truly is that he would operate so calmly and yet motivating the Force to assail primordial methods of crime prevention, detection and fighting even as he is conscious of the fact that modern policing involves building and rebuilding, citizens, the society and relationships for a greater crime-free nation.
It really does not take long to realise that the IGP’s pedigree spoke positive volumes of his being and character in and out of the job: One writer summarised Arase journey to Louis Edet House thus:
. He is a lawyer: Mr. Arase holds a Bachelor of Law degree and Masters of Law from the University of Benin and University of Lagos respectively. He attended the Nigerian Law School and was called to the bar in 2000.
. He has a degree in Political Science: The new IGP graduated with a degree in political science from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1980.
. He has a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan.
. He joined the Nigerian Police in 1981. Mr. Arase was the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom state. Before his recent appointment, he was in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Bureau.
. He served at the United Nations Mission in Namibia. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Defence College.
. He was head of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, which is the apex intelligence gathering arm of the Nigerian Police. The Force CID is the only arm of the police that provides Intelligence on Crime and National Security. Its primary functions include investigation and prosecution of serious and complex criminal cases within and outside the Country. The Department also coordinates crime investigations throughout the Force.
. He was the Principal Staff Officer to three former IG’s including Tafa Balogun, Mike Okiro and Sunday Ehindero.
. He served as the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Panti, Lagos.
May I add that the IGP is one Police officer who has never been known to abuse power despite the very top offices he has occupied with all the trappings of the temptation to abuse or misuse power? Rather, he has always chosen to allow the quest for true professionalism lead him on.