By Vincent Osuji & Blessing Akujobi
A leading legal practitioner in Imo State has strongly critized the monetary award to some policemen who uncovered the suspected killers of Fr. Cyriacus Onunko and others, saying that it fell short of expectations.
Barrister Uche Wisdom Durueke, who is also the president of Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) told Christian Voice that rather than cash, the Nigeria Police Force should have promoted the gallant officers and sent them on special training or rewarded them through other welfare packages.
Police commissioner Chris Ezike had, recently announce cash award of N1 million, and the commissioners commendation certificates for 28 officers of the Imo State command, 18 of them for efforts in the arrest of suspects in the kidnapping and murder of the Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Cyriacus Onunkwo.
Also rewarded were five officers who played leading roles in resolving the kidnapping and robbery of gospel singers, Prince Chinedu Nwadike, and another five for their hard work with the case of Johnbosco Okoro and one other victim.
Durueke was of the view that these officers as well as the police force would have benefitted more if they had been elevated and their welfare and status improved through further training.
The human rights and constitutional lawyer said that the Nigerian police are rather reactive than proactive, adding that further training of the men in various disciplines would enable the force to fit into the global trend in policing.
“For me, the one million naira offer is not motivational. There is a tradition globally. There are medals as signs of heroism for people in the force. There is promotion for such feats. So if, their performance is considered extraordinary, promote them. That is sustainable”, he said.
Durueke advocated advanced detective courses abroad for such promising and gallant police officers so that they would improve themselves and be useful to the society.
He blamed the rising crime wave in the state partly on the state government’s urban renewal program me which has destroyed the livelihood of many people and set them backwards.
The lawyer frowned at the recent demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri market and the ongoing demolition exercise in the state capital saying it has adversely affect the living standard of the people.
“This has the capacity to increase crime in the state”, he said.
He called on the state government not to pay lip service to its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property of citizens, adding that any government without a conscience should be considered a failure.