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Nigeria’s Ailing Police: Challenges Before The Inspector General


Though the country has a police Force that has been in existence long before Nigeria gained independence, more than half of the country’s population depend solely on God for their security. It remains to be seen whether the confirmation of Muhammed Abubakar as substantive Inspector General will change that.
Despite the efforts of officers and men of the force to be up and doing, the police in Nigeria is still used as one of the yardsticks for measuring corruption. Many citizens admit that the policing system has been eaten up by a cancerous rot which continually militates against its normal functioning.
Corruption in all cadres is one of the issues Nigerians have against their police. The force is largely seen as corrupt and before the present Inspector General abolished “check points”, most commercial drivers had become used to the routine of giving out money at every road block. So bad was it that the officers saw it as a right. Passengers in a commercial bus in Osun State were surprised when a policeman responded to their complaints about the illegal N 20 toll fee by asking if it was N 20 they would offer if they were stopped by armed robbers on the highway.
While junior officers are notorious for petty bribes, those in the top echelon have allegedly masterminded frauds that run into billions of Naira. That Tafa Balogun, a former Inspector General was imprisoned for misappropriating funds meant for the use of the Police Force is old news in Nigeria. Checks have revealed that corrupt senior officers in the force mostly capitalise on their position to perpetrate big time frauds and cover up the same.
Street Journal’s investigations have revealed that senior police officers are not alone in fleecing the Force, they have willing accomplices in politicians. Findings revealed that some members of the National Assembly have benefited from funds meant for the police in the past. Street Journal gathered that before the budgets of most Ministries, including that of Police Affairs are passed, it is not unusual for bribes to change hands. By the time the amount offered as bribe is deducted from the budget figure, the funds would have been heavily depleted and by the time senior officers remove theirs, the Force is left with funds that cannot ensure its smooth running for the year.
Street Journal also gathered that when that happens, Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) are left with no choice but to source for funds to run their Divisions. Incidentally, methods used in such sourcing are usually unprofessional money-making ventures.
It is also being insinuated in some quarters that the police budgets hardly get to the downstream of the Force as a substantial part of the budget allegedly ends up being utilised in the headquarters, zones and Area Commands, thereby affecting operations at the Division and Station levels.
Apart from the Force’s annual budget, it has also been alleged that most monies that accrue to it are either mismanaged or unaccounted for. For instance, just before the elections in 2011, the police got N 17 billion for logistics; purchase of equipment and the provision of security. The money was released in February, barely two months before the elections. Street Journal gathered that the equipment were promptly ordered and the delivery date was put at 6 months, an indication that the money could not be used for its original purpose. It was also found out that most of the equipment deployed for the elections were acquired through donations and support from state governments and corporate sources.
Meanwhile, it has been alleged that most of the support obtained from state governments and other sources are hardly ever accounted for. Street Journal found out that the budgetary provision notwithstanding, the Force still gets lots of patrol vehicles, bullet proof vests, armoured personnel carriers and communication gadgets from donors. Yet findings revealed that money is never returned into the Federation Account as excess from the police budget.
The newly confirmed IG might also have to look into the spending of the force. For instance, in the 2012 budget, N 307,857,718,425 was allocated for the Nigeria Police. Out of the amount, N 212 million was meant for dogs and horses. N 18,038,123 was earmarked for the maintenance of horses while N 20,420,517 was voted for the maintenance of dogs. Another N 44,753,973 was allocated for the procurement of specialised dogs while N42,624,051 was earmarked for patrol horses. The dogs and horses are meant to be used in the commands and zones
Meanwhile, not many people have seen police dogs and horses in some parts of Nigeria in the last one year. And where they have been seen, some of the dogs do not look well taken care of.
Loss of respect and in-subordination occasioned by corruption is another thing the IG needs to deal with. For instance, a policeman shot his superior officer in Ogun State following an argument that occured while they were on illegal duty. Lack of trust is also another issue between the senior and junior levels.
Another problem staring the police in the face is the that of incompetence which stems from the rot in the Force’s infrastructural system. Most police officers’ morales are on a low ebb,their barracks are eye sores. Apart from the dehumanising conditions of the barracks, the training is believed by many to be inadequate, especially in terms of handling equipment.
The orientation of officers is another thing that needs to be changed. Some of those who spoke with Street Journal opined that “policemen needs to change the way they see themselves and the way they see the people generally”.
As the IG has promised “more action”, Nigerians are eagerly waiting and looking forward to the eradication of terrorist activities in the country, though the scourge seems to have defied all logic so far.

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