New Telegraph

Ag IGP Baba: Leading broken personnel against soaring insecurity

Since the curtain fell on 2020, announcing the entrance of 2021, attacks, killings and death have become the lot of police personnel. The number of policemen killed so far since the beginning of this year is yet unknown. In retrospect, the fixated attacks and murders of police personnel started in 2020, on the heels of the #EndSARS protests.

The protesters demanded an end to police brutality, extortion, harassment and extra-judicial killings. In the course of the protests, the protesters began to understand the magnitude of challenges confronting the police, and had then included in their demands, a reevaluation of the police salary and welfare. The story would have ended well for the protesters and police, but some alleged hired thugs infiltrated the ranks of the protesters and turned it into a nightmare, leading to unprecedented arson, looting and killings. That marked the beginning of the attacks on the police personnel.

Police stations were burnt and armouries looted. Policemen and children lost their homes. A policeman was killed in Ibadan Oyo State and his charred penis was reportedly eaten by a woman, who many Nigerians described as Lady Macbeth of our time. Petrified, many police personnel started wearing mufti to their duty posts. The end of the mayhem saw policemen lose the zeal to work. However, those who bravely returned to work, returned to their old ways; extortion, harassment, intimidation, illegal arrest and unlawful detentions. This underscored the fact that the #EndSARS achieved absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, crime rate continued to soar, no thanks to armouries looted during the #EndSARS protests. Following the looting of armouries, security analysts projected that crime rates would soar.

The respite occasioned by the halting of the marauding protesters, was short-lived for the police personnel. Thus in 2021, another vicious, focused and fixated attack on the police personnel began. Tragic and mournful stories of policemen and women being killed in different parts of Nigeria were heard, witnessed or read. For reasons yet unknown, the highest occurrences and recurrences of the attacks and killings were in the South-East regions.

The final straw was the attack on the Imo State Police Command and Owerri Correctional Centre on April 5th. At least 1,844 inmates, including convicts, armed robbers and murderers, were allowed to escape, plunging an otherwise bedraggled security system into further burden. According to security analysts, the incident was the final straw which propelled the Presidency to oust the former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, who had overstayed his retirement age.

Adamu was still visiting Imo State, assessing damage done to the police command and prison, demanding that IPOB be destroyed for attacking the prison and freeing the inmates, when his sack was announced, ushering in a new sheriff, Usman Alkali Baba, in acting capacity.

Security experts have rolled out what they expected Baba to do to protect his personnel from further attacks and halt the escalating insecurity challenges plaguing the country. The Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, said effective policing was dependent as much on some external factors as it was on internal factors such as the qualification and skills of the person appointed. Nwanguma explained that the current levels of funding, equipment, training and personnel motivation, did not enable effective policing.

He said: “They do not put the police in any state of preparedness. It doesn’t matter who is appointed IGP and how committed, qualified and competent he may be, as long as the Federal Government, which has the constitutional responsibility for security, does not demonstrate genuine commitment to security sector reform, including enhancement of the intelligence, investigative and operational capabilities of the police and the morale of personnel. We can only expect an IGP to do magic in the absence of these essential factors.” The human rights activist added that the police needed to be overhauled, transformed, rebranded and adequately funded.

He said: “There must be transparency and accountability in the management of police funding, including allocations from the police budget and from the trust fund. We need to know how much the Police Trust Fund has received so far as takeoff grant, how much it has received from the federation account, from taxes by businesses and from other sources, and how it is managing the funds meant for training, retraining and equipment for the police and its auxiliary staff.

“The trust fund should be handy in providing funds to rebuild police stations and replace stolen or outdated arms. It must engage competent hands in training and retraining.” Nwanguma also suggested that the police needed to build public trust and confidence and attract empathy and support. “The activities of police officers deny them public empathy. It’s as though no lessons were learned from #EndSARS.

The same actions that incrementally built up to the #EndSARS rebellion are happening all over again. The IGP must begin to implement the new Police Act as well as support efforts to review the Police Regulations. A good place to start is for the IGP to start developing an annual policing plan – taking the inputs of the various levels of the police – setting out the policing objectives, priorities, cost and expected outcomes. This plan will be tied to the budget and it will be possible to assess how the police have achieved the plan at the end of the year.”

The publisher of the Chief Detective magazine and, Mr. Dipo Kehinde, said the IGP should boost personnel’s morale through welfare, reward hard work, pursuant of intelligence-led policing, open trusted channels for information gathering and provide all necessary tools for the job of crime fighting and crime prevention. A Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), who wishes to remain anonymous, also has advice for the new sheriff in town. He said: “The IGP should take intelligence- led policing with all seriousness it deserves. He should find out for sure why personnel are being attacked. Not guess-ing; pullout manpower from useless places like mobile policemen following rich men and their wives and post all of them on the roads. Flood the roads, communities. “Arase did operate safer highways.

The vehicles have all broken down and the men have left the roads. “Police should acquire General-Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs). AK47 rifles are too light for the reality on ground because the hoodlums have GPMGs. Posting should be based on capacity not, ‘nepotism.’ Police Mobile Force and Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) should return to their duties. They should be paid allowances when going on special duties so that they will be motivated and not prefer following wives or girlfriends of ‘yahoo yahoo’ or politicians. “All PMF should be trained before being given PMF uniforms so they will be bold.

They should acquire more Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs). There should be regular and monthly recruitment of police constables.” The Assistant Crime Editor of Vanguard Newspaper, Mrs. Evelyn Usman, who has been watching and analysing security events as they unfolded in Nigeria for years, advised the new IGP to be proactive, particularly when any intelligence report was given to him. She said: “Policemen should not just be kept on red alert but should be given the wherewithal to confront opposition, by equipping them with modern-day technology and contemporary weapons. He should, as a matter of fact, work on the morale of all policemen who seemed to have lost confidence in themselves and enthusiasm on the job, especially since the #EndSARS crisis.”

Usman also said that police postings shouldn’t be based on favoritism and that Baba should learn to post capable personnel to corresponding posts to enhance efficiency. She added: “He should improve the welfare of personnel, especially the rank and file, as this may motivate them to put in their best.

He should be bold to name and shame those sponsoring terrorism in the country and also defend his policemen who attempt to expose these evil people rather than punish them. “Detectives can be deployed as spies to violent prone areas, to get information on where these bandits and kidnappers are, in order to end their reign of terror.” Another security expert, Mr. Frank Oshunugor, said the appointment of any new IGP had always come with great expectations. He said: “Regrettably, such expectations had always been cut short oftentimes, not necessarily due to the incompetence of the very IGP in power, but due to political manipulations. These manipulations come in different forms and guises from the Presidency and other high echelons of government. The truth is that the Nigeria Police Force is not an independent or autonomous agency of government. It is strictly under the control of the Presidency, and whether Nigerians accept it or not, no IGP would have the audacity to pursue his own security agenda different from what the Presidency wants. “For example, the arrest of Boko Haram fighters who ordinarily would have been prosecuted by the police, were regarded as repentant terrorists and pampered with amnesty. We can only encourage the IGP, to try as much as possible, to follow provisions of the law in his activities. But whereby higher powers want to manipulate him let it be evident that he has done his part. The IGP should see himself first as IGP of Nigeria Police Force and not IGP of the North.”

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