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‘How to stop IGP from being subservient to President, party in power’

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…Says current system of policing will not help Nigeria

…Proffers solution to police extra-judicial killings, corruption

…Wants commands, sections of men on patrol boldly written on their vehicles, names, Force numbers of officers on patrol boldly written on uniforms

…Nigerians should have right to record policemen on patrol, road blocks must be dismantled

…Explains SWAT, rejects it for Nigeria

By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor

Last week, we served you the red-hot exclusive interview with retired police commissioner Nze Ibezimako Aghanya who variously served as Deputy  Commissioner of police in Anambra State and Police Commissioner in Benue, Ekiti and Kogi states.

He made startling revelations on why police engage in extra-judicial killings and told unbelievable stories of corruption, misery and poverty in the Nigeria Police Force. Today, we serve the concluding part of the interview which largely proffers solutions to myriads of problems in the force.

He believes that if authorities get things right in Nigeria the Police will lead the fight against corruption in Nigeria. He is not happy that the head of police in Nigeria always subservient to the President and party in government. He has recommended a change that can stop this. It’s your weekend delight. Excerpts:

How to tackle unprofessional conduct by Nigeria police

I will proffer solutions to unprofessional conducts of our policemen.

Extra judicial killings: Every policeman knows that extra judicial killings are unconstitutional but I have admitted it is done to hardened criminals due to factors I already mentioned. The solutions lie in investigation and prosecution duties. There should be trained investigators on the due process of interrogating suspects in accordance with Police act of 2020.

Modern equipment should be provided for forensic evidence that are needed to prove capital offences.

There should be trained expert investigators on the use of such forensic equipment in all the State CIDs in 36 states and Abuja.

Reform of Administration of Justice to ensure trials of capital offences are completed within one year. This solution applies to torture of suspects. There is no Nigerian hardened criminal that confesses to crime without torture but if there is hard forensic evidence that will be tendered in court to convict him, then torture to extract confessional statement becomes unnecessary.

Extra judicial killings during riots: There is no Police Command today that can boast of non lethal weapons to quell riots. As a Commissioner of Police in three states, I never received supply of Tear gas, rubber bullets, electric shock baton or even the common wooden baton.

Apart from the two Water Canon vehicles in Abuja, there is no such vehicle in 36 State Commands of Nigeria Police. The Government should provide non lethal weapons in sufficient quantity for the Police so that during disturbances lethal weapons can only be used in extreme cases in accordance with sections 33(2)a,b,c of the 1999 constitution.

CCTV camera: If CCTV cameras are mounted in Nigerian cities like in UK and other populated cities of the world, it will assist in the production of evidence to convict offenders and arrest rioters. There will be then less need for using force. I found through research, that London city alone has 500,000 CCTV cameras. During the 2013 youth riot in London, the rioters were violent but the London Police used only non lethal weapons.

READ ALSO: Politicians bully Inspectors-General to do what they want, not what’s right — Rtd CP Ojukwu

They arrested all the suspects with less efforts in their homes through clips downloaded from CCTV camera memory within 24hours after the riot. UK judges sat even in the night, tried and convicted the arrested rioters. Further into my research, out of 20 most populated cities in the world, I found Tokyo Japan, as number one most populated city in the world with 320,000 CCTV cameras. Lagos, Nigeria is number 16 but I could not find record of number of CCTV in Lagos while Rio de Janeiro Brazil as number 20 has 320,000 cameras.

Taking into consideration the reduced revenue to government, it may not be possible for government to be able to install sufficient cameras in our cities. I therefore suggest that companies, banks and other business concerns that have 24hours power supply from public source and private generator could be encouraged by tax rebate to install high revolution CCTV cameras along the streets within their vicinity. It will be recalled that it was the CCTV cameras in a super market the USA Police downloaded to identify the Boston Marathon terrorist bombers in 2013. I am just imagining how the Nigeria Police can produce forensic evidence to connect some of the criminals that were not arrested committing the offences of arson and murder during the end SARS protest at the scene of crime.

Lack of body armor vest and amoured vehicles: When the Policemen are deployed to scene of disturbances or riot with lethal weapons and no body armor vest or armoured vehicles for self protection to enable them move in to the crowd to make arrest, they deploy lethal weapons in defence as soon as rioters start throwing dangerous weapons at them. Secondly with these logistics the Police force can confront banditry in rural villages and towns.

Solutions to internal maladministration and corruption

It is the Nigeria Police that should be in the forefront among all the security agencies in the fight against corruption.

They are in all nooks and crannies of the country and have enormous powers within the law to eradicate crime of which corruption is the mother of all crimes. Corruption in the Police cannot be justified for any reason. I therefore advocate that all static road blocks mounted by any sections of the force with logs of woods etc on our highways should be dismantled.

Subsequently, the President should direct all other security agencies to follow suit including the Military. Military can mount such road blocks in those states they are fighting against insurgents. Static road blocks are primitive system of combating crime on the highways. The only purpose they serve is that policemen and members of other security agencies see them as an avenue of collecting bribe from innocent motorists.

It is a very shameful conduct. Security on our streets and highways by the police should be by patrol with vehicles painted with police colour and registration number. The Command and sections of the men on patrol should be boldly written on the body of vehicles being used for patrol for easy identification. The men on patrol must wear approved police uniform, name and force number boldly written on the uniform.

The men on patrol should be warned that members of the public have the right to film or take their pictures while on patrol duty as a check to record any unprofessional conduct. In USA police patrol vehicles have installed video cameras to record conduct of police men on patrol. It will be a serious disciplinary offence for any policeman on patrol to impound phone or camera of any citizen who is recording his conduct while on duty.

Uniform: Nigerians cannot exactly identify a police man with any particular uniform. The policemen of today wear different types and colours of uniform sown in different styles. The Nigeria Police I joined in 1974 had a work dress, office dress and ceremonial dress. They are of the same colour and design in accordance with the force order for rank and file and Inspectors with a little variation with that of ASP rank and above.

The Police Mobile force (Mopol) had only one color of uniform. Today anything goes as uniform and when you inquire, the men will tell you they bought the material from open market and used their money to sow. Uniforms and accoutrements are supposed to be free for Inspectors and rank and file. I therefore suggest that uniforms of the Nigeria Police should be produced by textile mills in Nigeria with security marks. The force order on the pattern of police uniform must be strictly enforced to prevent impersonation.

Proliferation of sections: This has created a lot of duplication of duties, redundancy and waste of scarce resources and poor output of work. The Commissioner of Police in a state command, constitutionally and under the Police Act is saddled with the responsibility of maintenance of law and order in his Command. He has Deputy Commissioners of Administration, Operations and Criminal investigation departments to assist him. I therefore advocate that all investigation teams in the State Command should be a section in the state CID. The sectional head of anti Robbery among other criminal activities should be directly under him. Each of these sections should be controlled by an officer not below the rank of a Superintendent.

Creation of SWAT

I do not subscribe to the creation of SWAT which is an operational outfit. SWAT is simply the official title of a security team that performs the same duties like the Nigeria Police Mobile force (MOPOL). The Nigerian Police Mobile Force was well equipped when I was a unit commander in the 80s.

We were trained in all kinds of operational duties until they were converted to perform duties outside their scope of operation. I therefore advocate that the VIP Protection unit(Blue Beret cap) and the Anti-terrorist Squad (Red Beret cap) should be integrated into Police Mobile Force (Green Beret cap).

They should have barracks, efficient training and modern logistics to make them efficient like the SWAT team of USA. It is not the title of security outfit that makes the outfit efficient but the logistics and training.

Appointment of Inspector General of Police (IGP)

The 1999 constitutional provision and 2020 Police Act on the appointment of IGP make him so subservient to the President and party in power. Sometimes, it places IGP in a position that will make him unable to defend the actions of command Commissioners of Police when they are falsely accused by politicians or prominent citizens.

For IGP to be independent and resist pressure to act unprofessionally, I advocate that if the President appoints IGP on the advice of Police Council, the IGP can only be removed from office on attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years of service or on medical grounds and for any other reasons that must be approved by two-third majority in the Senate.

If Chairmen of EFCC, ICPC, are protected by rigid law from interference, the Inspector General of Police should be placed in such a situation too, to prevent being pushed around by politicians and prominent personalities who demand favors such as armed police guards for those not entitled, soliciting for underserved promotion and posting for serving members who are their friends and relations.

In order to remain in office, in most cases the IGP succumbs to those pressures which amounts to unprofessionalism. The current system may not help policing in Nigeria.

The IGP must be able to stand up and be firm to all and not succumb to the President and party in power in a way that will affect fairness and professional conduct. The IGP must work for the entire Nigeria and not for the President and party in power. The manner of his appointment and security of his office will guarantee and help professionalism. This way, Nigerians will have confidence in the neutrality and fairness of police force.

Ombudsman

The Police Service Commission should establish the department of Ombudsman in all the zonal headquarters of the Nigeria Police force to investigate complaints from members of the public in respect of unprofessional conduct.

The members shall include a human rights activist to protect the interest of the public, a retired police officer not below the rank of Commissioner of Police to protect the interest of the police and a journalist as the third member.

They will not receive complaints directly from citizens for investigation. All complaints must be approved by the Police Service Commission or the Inspector General of Police or the Public Complaint Commission. Their reports shall be sent to the Police Service Commission for necessary actions.

Conclusion: Ensuring security of life and property in any country is one of the greatest factors to development. The Nigeria Police are in the forefront for provision of internal security. It therefore means that any country that does not have efficient and effective police will continue to have challenges in development. The Nigerian Police Force needs holistic reformation so that they can meet up with the challenges of insecurity in the country.

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