Lest We Forget

a commentary on socio-political developments and institutional policies

The Nigeria Police: Time To Tame The Behemoth

Without any modicum of doubt, the Nigeria Police has gone full circle, becoming exactly  the disease that it was created to cure: lawlessness. Hardly would a week pass without a gory tale of lawlessness of Police officers in one form or the other. If they are not venting their anger on innocent Nigerians, they are taking on other security agencies in a show of lawless impunity. On a number of occasions they have been undeniably caught on camera extorting a ridiculously silly and disgracefully cheap amount of money from commercial bus drivers. One was caught like a demented bullock pounding a hapless food vendor and threatening to shoot her because of some food. The litany of police brutality is both legendary and robust. The aphorism “Police is your friend” is a security malapropism that can only be taken romantically at the peril of its believer. In fact, “police” has become a metaphor for treachery, debauchery and decadence. Those who trusted them with confidential information on criminals have had their fingers burnt. It is open secret that some of them hire their guns to criminals for a piece of the “cake”. Their shortcomings are so pronounced and multidimensional that when they carry out a brilliant operation once in a long while (what should ordinarily be routine) it is celebrated to high heavens with stupendous accolade and lavish funfair from the public.

Truely, the police is the oldest and the largest of all security agencies. Their workload progressively becomes burgeoning that once in a while the government has necessarily had to trim it and give a little bit to another agency to make the police more effective and efficient in handling the remaining assignments. So were Immigration, NSO (now DSS), FRSC,  EFCC, and NSCDC created to handle some assignments exclusive of the police. Rather than complement the efforts of the government by giving such newly formed agency operational and logistic support, when and where necessary, and face their own assignments squarely, they would go into undue and irritating rivalry and competition with such agency, abandoning the rest security assignments to pursue the foregone. The “efficiency” that was conspicuously lacking when such assignment was under their jurisdiction they would suddenly rediscover and demonstrate with nauseating zeal and hypocritical gusto to discredit the new agency as incompetent and mischosen. This is the basis of the police’s introduction of a duplicitous contraption known as IG Pipeline Monitoring Team.

Often times they use such zeal as a decoy to sabotage the efforts of the new agency and perpetrate crime, and in some cases the police openly challenge the legitimacy of such organisation as though it is not the same Federal Government that established such agency with the necessary legal instruments. In fact, it baffles me how the police arrogates to itself the oversight function and supervisory role to curtail the powers of the Federal Government to create and abrogate MDAs. Any challenge by the police to the legitimacy of any properly constituted (either by an Act of Parliament or Presidential Proclamation) federal MDA is a direct affront and challenge to the sensibility and wisdom of the Federal Government.

It should be noted that over ninety percent of interagency clashes have essentially and compulsorily involved the police. One wonders why the police top brass are not bothered by the reckless and shameful assailants that their rank and file have become. In the last ten years not less than ten clashes had occured between the police and other security agencies, not counting that of between them and Civil Defence in Niger State; Maiduguri, Adamawa State; Ikorodu, Lagos State, 2013; Oyo State, July 2014; and numerous other unreported cases. Some of these clashes regrettably have claimed lives on both sides. For the police, it is more professionally rewarding and esteem-wise fulfilling to engage other agencies in fisticuffs than engage criminals. In deed, it is as if they have gone into an unholy fraternity with the criminals. While rapists, armed robbers, cultists, assassins, kidnappers, vandals, terrorists, and other felons are having a field day, the police is busily engaging coordinate agencies in avoidable wrangling and distracting altercations.

United States has sixteen main Intelligence and Security Agencies. In addition to these sixteen agencies which formally comprise the U.S. Intelligence Community, it also has several other federal tactical military intelligence and security organisations, as well as those responsible for security responses to transnational threats, including terrorism, cyber warfare and computer security, covert employment of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics trafficking, and international organized crime. The list is almost endless. Yet they don’t engage one another in a senseless show of paternalism or seniority.

The deficiency of discipline, regimentality, est spirit de corps is so pronounced in the police that apart from their own, they hardly recognise and give compliments to superior officers from other agencies like Prisons, Immigration and Civil Defence. They consider it infra dig and condescending for a policeman to salute their superiors from those agencies.

The latest of their insufferable buffoonery is the recent temerity and insubordination to lawfully constituted authority displayed on Friday, August 22, by a police inspector who threatened to fire a shot at the Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr. Ade Abolurin. His grouse: The Commandant General, and indeed Civil Defence have no business at oil pipeline area. The CG’s team which was put together by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, to verify disposable judicially forfeited items was at Ikorodu, as in other places nationwide, also comprising members from the Nigerian Army, Navy, EFCC, ICPC and Office of the AGF. It is trite to say that the military men were equally in uniform and would be high ranking officers to merit the membership of a team constituted by the AGF, and chaired by the CG. This latest odious act of the police if not severely sanctioned with the highest possible punishment will clearly demonstrate that the hierarchy of the police is the mastermind of the various unprovoked antagonism and bloody belligerence of their rank and file against Civil Defence.

The Nation Newspaper Online (Sat. Aug. 23) quoted the newly appointed Force Spokesman, DCP Emmanuel Ojukwu as denying the incident, saying, “if he (CG) was shot at, he would either have been dead or hospitalised. But anyway, nothing like that happened.” Yeah, denial, lies and falsehood is typical of police. Can you imagine a police spokesman being so casual and pedestrian in his approach, and bareface in spewing lies? No sense of alarm, no sense of shock. Just plain indifference.

Lest we forget, the authority of the police to prosecute crimes was brutally butchered when a Federal High Court sitting at Lokoja, Kogi State held that the police’s power to prosecute pipelines vandals has been effectively transferred to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). In a judgment delivered on June 17th, 2013, in a suit instituted by the police against Abuh Daniel, a suspected oil vandal, Justice I.E. Ekwo, said section 3 (1) (f) (vi) of the NSCDC Act (Amendment) Act 2007 has expressly conferred the authority to investigate offence of oil pipeline vandalizstion and to initiate proceedings thereto on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation to NSCDC.The judge said: “This means that even if it is the Nigeria Police that apprehended any person suspected to have committed such offence, it is the duty of the police to hand over such suspect to the NSCDC for prosecution.”

Till date the police has not appealed the ruling, yet its operatives are saying that Civil Defence, that is legally constituted and empowered to apprehend vandals has no business at the oil pipeline area,even to the point of wanting to shoot the CG. All well-meaning Nigerians must rise in unison and put the police where it properly belongs. No one, least of them security organisation, is above the law.

Clearly, the police is becoming a rampaging behemoth, and an intolerant and treacherous organisation. With a friend like the police, Nigerians are no longer in need of another enemy. The police should be tamed, and urgently too. A deep surgical operation is the panacea. The police must be repositioned to accomplish its primary goals. There must be urgent re-orientation, undesirable elements must be weeded out, discipline must be upheld. The jurisdictional integrity of other agencies must be respected with responsible, synergetic cooperation, and not disruptiive obstructions.The IG Pipeline Monitoring Team (IGPMT)) should be immediately disbanded as it has become a cog in the wheel of NSCDC assignment. The IGPMT has become a desperate instrument of unnecessary confusion, unwarranted confrontation and avoidable conflagration. The new Inspector General, Suleiman Abba, definitely has a herculean task ahead, that is if he feels outraged at the hydra-headed monster his organisation has become. If not, the festering decay continues.

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