Ranging from tackling corruption, indiscipline, lack professionalism among other ills, the new IGP look determined to clean and rebrand the Police Force. SAMUEL ODAUDU examines the challenges before the new police boss
There is a new spirit within the high command of the Nigeria Police since Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, took over the mantle of leadership at Louis Edet House. His tone and body language mark him out as a man with stern mission towards rebranding a new Nigeria Police force.
He wants to eradicate corruption and indiscipline from the force. Arase took over from Mohammed Abba who was fired by President Goodluck Jonathan shortly after the general elections. No reason was given for the sack of Abba. Media speculations however had it that the former IGP was disloyal to his commander-in-chief.
In order words, he was alleged to be hobnobbing or working with the opposition instead of working for the government that employed him. Whatever was the case, a new era has come to stay in th Nigeria Police Force.
The Nigeria Police has complicated images among Nigerians. While some see the police as important law enforcement agency that has been contributing to the national peace and security of the country, others think otherwise.
For many Nigerians, “the force has made internal security worse that it has enhanced it. For instance, many Nigerians find it difficult to give the police useful information relating to crimes because there are fears that instead if going after suspects, the law enforcement officers rather pursue the individual who voluntarily give the force vital information to help the agency fight crimes and criminals”, said Mallam Inuwa Abu, a public relations expert in Abuja.
He said based on his experience, it is most dangerous to give th police any useful information abou criminal activities because th police will abandon the real suspect and arrest the informant instead.
There is also the issue of corruption which, to many observers, has assumed incurable in the force. From the echelon of the force, the general belief is that the force is thoroughly smeared in corruption. The welfare of junior officers is no taken seriously by the senior officers. Welfare packages meant for junior officers are allegedly converted by senior officers to their personal use. Meannwhile, junior officers are always demanded to be their patriotic best on duty.
“Nigerian government is not far to the police rank and file”, said a respondent who gave her name as Mrs. Gilda Otumbo. According to her, “we get the type of police we deserve. I have friends and family members who are in the police. Their stories are pathetic. It is difficult for God-fearing and honest people to amount to any good thing in the police. Unless this is corrected by the government, we shoul not expect better police.
“They are poorly paid. They are not encouraged or rewarded for good work. What, for God’s sake, do you expect from such demoralized persons?” she asked.
Critics of the force opine that there are more criminal activities in the country at the moment than before. Infact the biggest allegation is that rather than fighting crimes, bad elements in the force aid and abet crimes. Worst still, they are said to be directly involved in perpetrating crimes they are sent to fight.
Indiscipline, unprofessionalism, lack of commitment and patriotism also characterize the force. But are the police officers alone to blame for all these ills in the system?
Arase appears to have come ready to confront the recalcitrant factors that have the polic force to look like an unwanted agency of the government. His most widely reported roadmap to eradicating corruption from the force seems written on stone and it conveys a sense of urgency.
For instance, he has directed the IGP Monitoring Unit (X-Squad), and the Force Provost Marshall, to commence enforcement of anti-corruption directives across all police formations in the country. In an address to senior police officers last week, the acting IGP made his th anti-corruption position if his administration clear: “Any officer caught either through whistle-blowing framework or direct operations of the enforcement units of the force will be appropriately dealt with in line with established disciplinary procedure,” he said. Not only will any officer caught be disciplined; such officers will face prosecution and corresponding punishment.
Continuing, he emphatically that, “This administration intends to address the menace of corruption in the police by developing frameworks and interventions that will address root causes of corruption. In this regard, official factors like logistics and welfare challenges that create grounds for corrupt tendencies by police officers will be vigorously addressed. “The second approach is to pursue a very robust anti-corruption enforcement strategy that will leave no serving officers and citizens under any illusion about its integrity, and firm commitment to national ethical rebirth and development. “Very soon, the nation will witness a massive and sustained deployment of the anti-corruption action units of the force for enforcement functions. The new anti-corruption crusade of the force will take full cognizance of the appropriate sections of our criminal laws and hold both the giver and taker of bribes accountable,” he said. Other areas he inends to deal with is commercialization of bail system by men and officers of th law, as well as road blocks. “The Commissioners of Police, Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers in whose jurisdiction illegal road blocks are detected will be personally or vicariously held liable,” he said. In the past, IGPs made such good promises like these but could not achieve their set objectives for lack of commitment, political compromise and absence of patriotism to the country. Severally, police bosses and senior officers in this country left their offices with corruption scandals on their trail. Can Arase make any difference this time?

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