Frank talk

Another factor which helps to hamper police effectiveness is bribery and corruption. It is generally believed that there is a high level of corruption in the police. This corruption could be seen in the promotion of policemen and women. Some well-qualified are often overlooked in promotion and in posting them to  more “lucrative spots”.

Some police men pay heavy bribe for them to be posted to the Southern parts of  Nigeria,  like Aba, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Onitsha, Lagos, Ibadan and Benin City. These were considered to be crime-ridden areas and “trouble makers” where police are very busy. And this could be translated into “cash”.

In fact, it has been alleged that police men do everything possible to avoid being posted to the North because it is not a fertile area for troubles. However, if they must be posted to the North, they would prefer to go to those Northern cities where there are many Southerners residing, particularly, to “make a lot of trouble”. That was before the emergence of boko haram saga.

Furthermore, there is corruption even in  the  payment of some entitlements to police officers. Moreover, even in pension and retirement processes, one has to pay bribe before one’s file could move from one table to another table. I recall that a retired police officer while processing his retirement documents, complained to an officer demanding something from him by reminding him that “one day you will be a retired officer”. He replied, “Oga don’t worry when I get there I would remember that I did the same to others before me”. What an audacity!

In addition, other privileges and incentives available for police officers are corruptly distributed. Sadly enough, corruptive discrimination is heavily alleged in the police.

Many claim that only those who have Abraham as a father get rapid promotions, considered for any juicy posting and are favoured regularly while those bereft of such Abraham watch in frustration as their colleagues pass them on as if they are not in the same force.

The cumulative effect of this state of affairs is that the morale in the police is very low indeed. And if this is added to the disdain with which our police is treated , often these officers fail to rise to the occasion when expected to “die for the nation”. They may seem to ask, “die for which nation? die for which people”?

From the above analysis, Nigerian citizens can now see why the Nigeria police is not performing according to the expectation of Nigerians. The strength of the Nigeria police is grossly below United Nations’ recommended ratio. Apart from that, the current strength is equally depleted by other interventions of both official and unofficial deployment of men and women in the force who should be focusing on national assignments. Some are being deployed legitimately, others illegitimately by superior officers.

Besides, the Nigeria police is poorly equipped and poorly funded. There is a very high level of corruption, discrimination, nepotism, ethnicity, favouritism in posting and granting of good fallouts of the force. Conversely, the morale is very low because of series of abnormalities in the police even at the very top. Accommodation and other welfare packages are just for few “favoured men”.

Interestingly, it is this that has motivated the current administration to embark on comprehensive reform of the police. Many Nigerians believe that it will be impossible to reform the police. I may tend to agree with that position.

But as a Social Scientist, I am trained to accommodate all functional variables in any situation because no condition is averse to change. After all, there may not be a sizeable proportion of Nigerians who will agree that there are quite a few men and women today who do not take bribe in police and are not corrupt. Similarly, not even a handful of Nigerians will agree that there are some many girls in our higher institution today who are still virgins. Definitely there are many of them.

Afterall, as the Angels on a mission of destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah found few righteous in Lots’ family, so also we can find some policemen today in Nigeria that are honest, hardworking, dedicated, committed and corruption and bribery free. These may be the foundation of the reform program. But as a point of entry Nigerians must internally reform their own attitudes to the police.

Apart from inadequate police strength, another factor that is militating against police performance is inadequate possession of equipment. Today, due to the unfortunate incidence of small arms proliferation in the country which makes it possible for criminals to get hold of these small arms of various descriptions, Nigeria police is supposed to be ahead of these criminals in terms of equipment.

It has been confirmed that at many robbery scenes, the police is often outgunned making it possible for them to often withdraw to safety. Police men are human beings. Many of them have families to care for. Although they have sworn to defend the people and their property, they have to consider their own safety as well. They don’t necessarily have to submit themselves to preventable hazards or deaths. Of course, in any given exchange of fire power, one with superior fire-power would always prevail, while the other is bound to withdraw. This is simple rule of the thumb, whether in a conventional war-front or in violent confrontation.

Many Nigerians feel ashamed when witnessing bank robbery when the superiority of gun-fire by robbers is indeed manifest. They usually bury their faces in shame to see their own police supposed to protect them withdrawing from a crime scene.

It is a common knowledge that today’s criminals are highly equipped with highly sophisticated guns of different mechanism and range. This often subdues the police when confronting criminals.

Besides, the police lack modern, highly sophisticated communication equipment and other highly sensitive communication gadgets with which they can monitor criminals so as to knock them off through accurate intelligence and intelligence gathering.

Although many State Governors and corporate organizations have been very supportive of the police by donating some vehicles and gadgets, the bottom line is for the police budgetary allocation to be drastically enhanced to enable the police procure sophisticated military hardwares that will be adequate to return fire for fire.

Even, in some countries witnessing high crime rates, their police are being supplied with bullet proofs as part of their equipment. This can inject more confidence in the officers of the police. After all, they have more training than some of the armed robbers.

However, it will not be overlooked that some of the robbers are former police and military men either dishonourably dismissed or took voluntary retirement to enter into the more lucrative business of armed robbery. Yet, they cannot be of match to the police in service who is always doing drills and updating his skills in all aspects of violent and riotous incidents.

Additionally, police should be provided with military helicopters at least one to a State for area surveillance.

These measures outlined in this analysis, in my opinion, will go a very long way in improving the effectiveness of police, their performance, their image and their morale. And once this happens Nigeria police would be seen in a different light. After all, as already stated, are those not the same Nigeria police who earned commendation once in foreign mission? An objective answer to this will not be out of the ordinary and will not be too far fetched.  by chuks osuji