SOME Nigerians have been raising concerns over the despatch of a contingent of 144 officers of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, to terrorism-wracked Somalia to help in efforts to stabilise security and restore the rule of law and order.
Their grouse is that this is ironically coming at a time that the police force is perceived as displaying gross inability to protect the lives and property of our people. They also cannot understand why with the myriads of security challenges posed by Boko Haram in the North East, bandits of the North West and parts of North Central, armed herdsmen in the Middle Belt and entire South and the emerging menace of the Unknown Gunmen in the South East and South-South, Nigeria is still playing the African Big Brother and sending a police contingent to Somalia.
To underscore the shortfall in police personnel, the new Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, has only recently asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to return all its officers from the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, and above attached to it due to “operational requirements”.
It simply means that the Force is mopping up officers posted outside its framework at this trying time that police personnel are being targeted and killed and its stations destroyed by some aggrieved hoodlums in the East.
We, however, do not see anything wrong or unusual in the Federal Government authorising the sending of our police contingent to Somalia to assist in efforts to restore order. The group is part of the African Union’s Mission in Somalia, AMISOM.
According to Daniel Ali Gwambal, the contingent’s Coordinator, apart from mentoring the Somali Police Force, SPF, the contingent will also help to conduct patrols, man checkpoints, perform guard duties and engage in general policing.
This is in tune with Nigeria’s obligation as a foremost member of the African Union, to play leading roles in promoting peace, stability and progress on the African continent.
The Nigerian contingent is just one among others drawn from countries throughout the continent.
Nigeria has always performed this sacred role through the police and armed forces since independence.
No matter the challenges we are facing in terms of security, 144 personnel less for the short period they will be away should not undermine our internal crime control efforts.
Besides, exposure to international assignments such as the AMISOM mission is a prerequisite part of the training and experience that our policemen require to have in order to enrich their capacity to perform their constitutional mandates back home.
We hope that the officers focus strictly on their professional call of duty and promote Nigeria’s image as they usually do while on international duties. We also hope they return home better than they left.