Threats, danger and various human infamies have been with man since the beginning of time. Rightly so, humanity has during various generations going back into centuries and millennia into ways and structures to protect themselves from threats and crime in order to remain free and happy in the pursuit of their livelihoods. As it were, Nigeria has grappled with, and is still doing so, with audacious criminal enterprises, from well-organized kidnapping syndicates to highly mobile and insidious terrorist networks that are taking lives with wanton abandon. To stop them, the government requires the services of a highly effective and patriotic security agency, especially the police which are directly standing in the line of fire.
The Nigeria Police, charged with fighting crime, are led by a Mr. Solomon Arase, the Inspector-General, who is known in security circles as a professional, patriotic and highly capable officer with exceptional record of national and international accolades in crime reduction initiatives.
The achievements of the police since Arase’s appointment are exceptional and conspicuous for all to see in various areas of operations. One of the recent innovations from the Inspector-General, which actually prompted me to take notice of him, is the introduction of stun guns for police use. This was applauded by Nigerians as it will drastically reduce the number of casualties caused by the infamous term ‘accidental discharge’ and in crowd dispersals. It will also create opportunities with the police to incapacitate rather than kill high-value suspects.
Then in providing training and capacity development to professional operatives to track and arrest suspects wherever they may be using the most modern equipment procured recently by the Nigerian police, the results are there for Nigerians to see. An example of such success can be found in the tracking of and eventual arrest of the kidnappers of Pa Olu Falaye and other highly wanted criminals.
The police were already tackling corruption before the advent of Mr. President’s huge anti-corruption drive. In his zero tolerance for corruption in the police force, apart from dismissing officers who have been found wanting in bribery, corruption and other related crimes, Arase called on Nigerians to report unfriendly attitudes of men and women of the force, resulting in a better-behaved group of men. He also urged citizens to refrain from offering bribes, as well.
More than 50 police officers have been sacked for corrupt practices and 56 others have been sanctioned for various offences. The top cop publicly said that they have opened themselves to public scrutiny and accountability, and I believe that singular statement could be one of the moves to win the confidence of the police.
To contribute to effective and lasting security in the North-East, more than 3,000 trained police officers were deployed to the zone. Also empowered is the Monitoring Unit, X-squared and the provost marshal to sustain the enforcement drive in the upcoming year. The initiative of holding commissioners of police, area commanders and divisional police officers liable for professional misconducts was proposed.
It used to be that police officers would either refuse confronting violent scenes or delay before going there. Invariably as we have heard from within the force, such reluctance is predicated on the thinking that police officers who lose their lives in such circumstances leave their families in penury and frustration because of the delay in processing and accessing death benefits to their next of kin. Sure, it has been a sore point in welfare matters as far as fallen police officers are concerned. There has been a bold step taken to stem this tide. A situation where death benefits could be speedily worked out and given to beneficiaries should encourage serving officers to fight crime.
Also heartening are the scholarship awards for some children of deceased police officers who lost their lives in active service and rewards to those who excelled in their various duty posts in order to boost morale. It is, therefore, imperative to call on the president, the National Assembly and various stakeholders to support the police force to up the general welfare package of officers, men and women of the Nigeria police.
Senior police officers who have retired had made several cases of the need to revive the Forensic Laboratory of the Police Force. This call can never be over-emphasised in crime-fighting. For ages, police forces in developed crimes rely heavily on that aspect of the job in dealing with sophisticated and organised crime. In fact, now is the time to revive and make forensic laboratories more robust for the police, given the rate of crime and its spread in the nation. If anybody comes out to criticise the police, effort should be put to see the state of the Nigeria Police before giving them a bad name. Let us just help them, for at the end of the day we are helping ourselves.
Ibrahim wrote in from Kaduna.
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