The Ministry of Police Affairs recently put forward a budget proposal of N 341 billion for the year 2013. Out of the figure, N 2.798 billion has been earmarked for gathering of intelligence, logistics and the purchase of anti-terror equipment.
Street Journal found out that last year, the total amount approved for the Police in the budget stood at N 307.8 billion, in spite of that however, the police remained weighed down and flat footed especially in the tackling of some crimes, including terrorism. The Force lost quite a number of men to the fire power of robbers which sometimes proved superior, a number of officers were also lost to terrorist activities.
Annually, millions are budgeted for dogs and horses by the Force. Incidentally, even senior officers ask whether the money meant for the animals outside the Force Headquarters are ever used in taking care of them. The Police Force is plagued with a lot of issues that have made it operate far below the normal standard.
Apart from lack of equipment, which predisposes officers and men to great danger, factors within and outside the force have contributed a great deal to its present predicament. There have been allegations of corruption against officers and men of the force.
It is also an open secret that not all officers are bold enough to risk their lives in the defence of the average Nigerian because of the fear of what happens if death comes in the line of duty. Officers who have seen the trauma gone through by the widows and families of their fallen colleagues while trying to access their entitlements would not wish the same for their families. An example was the Ijebu Ife mayhem of 2009 in which an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Omolodun Oladokun was brutally murdered. Findings revealed that the late ACP was called that there was trouble in Ijebu Ife and he proceeded there immediately with a handful of men. He reportedly met an armoured personnel carrier and told the men on it to follow them to Ijebu Ife. The officers in the APC however responded that they did not have enough fuel to take them to the scene of the disturbance. They assured the Assistant Commissioner that they would join him, he should only allow them to go and fuel the APC. They never showed up in Ijebu Ife!
Though the men were queried after, no one ever gave any reason why the APC had no fuel, neither did anyone ever hear that the officer(s) that were responsible for fuelling it ever answered any questions.
In the time of Chief Sunday Ehindeero as the Inspector General of Police, not less than N 575 million was allegedly misappropriated. It made the news then that one of the men who worked closely with him was seen with television cartons loaded with money. His predecessor, Tafa Balogun was convicted for misappropriating about $ 150 million. Incidentally, Balogun was seen as an Inspector General who could not tolerate corruption in any form; at least 1,200 officers were dismissed in his tenure for extortion and various forms of corruption. Many still remember Tafa Balogun for his statement that rogues had been employed into the Police Force.
While it is believed that the senior cadre of the police hierarchy has issues with corruption, it is an open secret that junior officers are not immune. In most stations, complainants have to “drop” something even before their statements would be taken. At times they would be told to pay for the paper on which the statement would be written. An elderly woman once told of how she went to report an incident and when she was told there was no paper, she went to buy a higher education notebook. After writing her statement which was barely two pages, she took the notebook and wanted to leave. She was however told by the officer on duty that the notebook was not meant to be taken away. The story is the same in almost every department.
Unfortunately, the police is also affected by external fraudulent activities. One of such is the Police Equipment Fund issue which blew open years ago. Around 2006, the Fund purchased two helicopters from Ukraine for the use of the Nigeria Police Force. The choppers were paraded and tested at an elaborate ceremony and they were flown from the Eagle Square to the Force Headquarters in Abuja. That was all the police ever saw of them as the then IG, Sunday Ehindero disclosed that the helicopters were never handed over to him by the Fund.
Findings revealed that the idea of the Fund was actually the brainchild of three friends, Evangelist Joseph Agharite, Dr Godson Ewulum and Prince Ibrahim Dumuje back in 2004. Their proposals didn’t seem to make sense to the then Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero and the Minister for Police Affairs, Broaderick Bozimo. They thus recruited Kenny Martins, an in-law to the then President, Chief Obasanjo to help push the proposal. It was Martins who advised that the proposal should be broadened to N 100 billion from the initial N 1 billion as the police would need much more than they envisaged. One of the principals, Joseph Agharite died in the 2005 Bellview air crash.
Before long, the idea received Presidential approval and a Committee on Police Equipment Fund was set up by the President in 2006. The committee was saddled with the responsibilities of transforming the police, raising funds and mobilizing resources to help the police. Being a Presidential committee, a lot of support came from within the country and beyond. The Chinese Government and some organizations gave about $500 million, the then Ivorian President gave $ 3 million, the Federal Ministry of Finance gave N 10 billion while N 7.78 billion was deducted at source from the local government statutory allocation while N 150 million came as support from some foreign sources.
It was around that time that a metamorphosis took place and the Police Equipment Fund suddenly became the Police Equipment Foundation with Chief Kenny Martins as the National coordinator. The Foundation bought more than a thousand cars most of which ended as gifts while an exotic pre-launch dinner was also held. Findings revealed that the dinner set the Foundation back by about N 200 million.
The idea of equipping the police with armored vehicles, body armours, arms and ammunition suddenly fizzled away as the funds meant for the project ended up in individual purses.
The Nigeria States and Local Government Trade and Tourism Fair (NIGERSALG) is the name under which the Foundation was registered. In the forms submitted to the Corporate Affairs Commission, Kenny Martins and Ibrahim Dumuje were listed as the Board of Directors. Interestingly, the form was signed by Evangelist Joseph Agharite in May 2006. Meanwhile, Agharite died in the air crash in October, 2005.