Safer highway security initiative of the Nigerian Police is one effective safety mechanism designed by the administration of erstwhile police chief, Solomon Arase, to check increasing criminality on the nation’s motorways. It is a highly mobile and motorized police lock-down that has been successful in checking highway robberies, illegal movement of terrorists, haulage of illicit drugs, explosives, arms and ammunition as well as check the increasing menace of kidnappers. Facts about its successes are undisputed. In short, the outfit cannot only prove to be the alpha and omega of highway protection in the country, but a credible replacement to the notorious roadblocks and police check points previously mounted on our roads. Expectedly, the Nigerian motoring public accepted it flowing from recent calm on the highways. But that tranquil is near absent as emerging signs show that the steam with which the outfit became the darling of the motoring public is fast fading: robberies have resurfaced and kidnapping is increasing by the day. The sudden downhill development is unimaginable; it makes a mincemeat of our establishments’ policies summer sault of one step forward and ten backward. Reports indicate that the special unit is faced with logistics challenges and apathy from officers and men. Special duty allowances are no longer paid to the affected personnel; fuel for operational vehicles to set off on patrols and lock-down beats are also not provided: the low morale of the men is most worrisome as questions such as “if the team spirit is low and special duty allowances are not paid, and fuel for operational vehicles not supplied, who then is safe and how can Nigerians move on unsecured highways?” To buttress the bothersome situation, it is further reported that officers and men now deploy extraneous means, at times coercion, to extort money from the public in order to purchase fuel for their duty vehicle and help themselves. This is routine and the real picture on the highways, which we loathe and consider improper, especially the self- help measure. What has really gone wrong since Mr. Idris Mohammed took over as new IGP? We demand that the IGP respond immediately to these weighty allegations. A
reaction from the top police boss is obligatory to clear the air on why personnel use personal funds and those extorted from the public to purchase fuel for duty and operational vehicles. We demand to know what happened to funds allegedly approved by the presidency for this special security duty; where are the funds? Why is the special duty allowance not being paid to the police personnel? Coming with such resounding successes, Nigerians will no doubt be happier if the new police administration sustains the outfit’s tempo by improving the welfare of the men as well as logistics. This is reinforced by the fact that it will not be an overstatement to reaffirm the relevance of this outfit and call on the new police administration to provide special package such as increased allowances, special insurance scheme, quality ration, a special fuel dumpsite for men of the Safer Highways. Frankly, when this is done, our roads will be safe again. As a good value, motivating officers and men with the right incentives such as a well packaged welfare measures will boost their morale. This is what the police management must do now and not reduce the outfit to mere highway beggars and extortionists. Sincerely, we view this aspect of forcing monies out of motorists as grave as the increasing criminality on the highways. If the police are to endear themselves to the public as friends, they must be incorruptible, friendly, civil at all times and sustain the courage to clear these bandits off the roads; this is their statutory mandate, and nothing more. Going forward, we task the IGP, in addition to providing the required logistics to this unit, to increase their presence on Nigerian roads. This is sacrosanct as recent kidnapping on the notorious Abuja-Lokoja-Okene-Auchi and other highways in the country shows that there are no police presence to repel the criminal elements and this has been the case with most successful robberies and abductions carried out by the criminal elements. It is unacceptable to hear that rather than maintain steady presence on the highways, the police are elsewhere raising money to procure fuel for operational vehicles. This excuse is illogical, offensive and we condemn the act unequivocally.