(By Hussain Obaro)
“Everywhere in the world, the mentality and concept of policing has changed from the normal conventional policing into a more people’s friendly and people’s centered community based policing. Crime prevention rather than crime management is now the in-thing and the approach is no longer people-to–police but police-to-people in such a way that the police do not stay at the station expecting the public to call or come to report crimes, but the police stay and live amidst the people so as to prevent them from committing crimes“.
Continued from last Friday
WE have a police that is not people friendly, peaceful protests and rallies suddenly turn violent and bloody as soon as the police get there. The fundamental human rights of the citizenry are not respected, court rulings and injunctions are not obeyed, extra judicial killings and accidental discharges have almost become a routine, use of teargas with disregard to the health implication to the citizenry, is what is experienced. It is believed that in recruitment into the police parochialism is on brazen display. It is believed that politicians sometimes use their connections and might to get their thugs into the force.
Now that Nigeria is facing the challenge of insecurity, there is an urgent need for our police to be effectively reformed and repositioned to quell insurgency, and the challenges of modernisation, nation building and the transformation agenda. Although, the MD Abubakar, until recently the IG, advocated on assumption a N50,000 minimum wage for a constable in the force, saying such will go a long way to boost morale and promote efficiency, and did order about 300 patrol vehicles to be deployed in all major roads the country, as we can all see, much more is required.
Everywhere in the world, the mentality and concept of policing has changed from the normal conventional policing into a more people’s friendly and people’s centered community based policing. Crime prevention rather than crime management is now the in-thing and the approach is no longer people-to–police but police-to-people in such a way that the police do not stay at the station expecting the public to call or come to report crimes, but the police stay and live amidst the people so as to prevent them from committing crimes. The use of ICT and modern electronic gadgets like CCTV cameras, lie detector machines e.t.c. have made the job of policing so easy and effective all over the world. Nigeria Police cannot afford to lag behind if it is to take its rightful place as a leader in Africa. Unfortunately, we do not still have a free–dial simple digit police phone number in place in Nigeria apart from the recently launched 112 which connects to the department of state security (DSS), the Nigeria Police should key into ICT and computerize not only its record keeping and documentations but also its investigations, interrogations and crime detection operations.
Funding of the police has become a challenge as the Federal Government is left to solely fund the police. Recently, the need to establish and have a state police in place, to be funded by state governments have been strongly advocated, and to the relief of most people, endorsed by the just concluded National Conference. With appropriate safeguards and removing control from either the governors or the President, we can begin to hope for law and order in our country over- run by lawlessness and criminal activities. To this end, an all-inclusive funding by the Federal Government, state government and the private sector will be called for.
The issue of welfare for officers and men of the Nigeria Police has being a source of worry to security experts, analysts and of course every security minded Nigerian. The slums called barracks in which some of our policemen reside cannot bring out the best in our officers, thank God! Efforts are already in progress at renovating existing barracks and building new ones. But yet, there is a need for us to de-emphasize the mentality and the present arrangement whereby majority of the officers reside in barracks. Modern policing strategies entail that the police reside and live with the people. That is the only way an effective crime prevention can be achieved. Life and hazard insurance cover for the police have been strongly advocated by security analysts, and all stakeholders involved in the proposed police reforms should take serious note of these.
Recruitment and training of Police should be more transparent and “open”. The whole recruitment and training process should be restructured as the present pattern which allows the “wrong” people to get into the force is already doing more harm than good. Criminals, political thugs and people who are morally bankrupt and undisciplined find their way into the force just because they have “godfathers”. Even when the “wrong” people make it to the police colleges and training camps, we do not have an effective tactical and psychological screening strategy in place to fish them out. To this end, psychologists, guardian counselors and indeed psychiatrists should be part of the training of aspiring policemen to ensure that officers who would eventually evolve are mentally and psychologically fit and disciplined to know that he/she doesn’t have to point a gun at a vehicle on a highway indiscriminately, to know that he doesn’t have to jump in front of a moving vehicle like an armed robber, to know that his gun and teargas isn’t his greatest strength, to know that every alleged criminal is innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law, to know that his services are to secure and protect lives and properties of Nigerians and not to be used by politicians, the rich and the authorities to oppress and harass the people and to know that he is also part of the people.
• Obaro wrote from Ilorin, Kwara State.
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