Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has decorated the acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba with his new rank with a charge to the police chief to redeem the sagging image of the security agency.
Speaking at the ceremony held Wednesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the vice president urged the new acting IGP to work hard to regain the trust and confidence of the public in the police by stamping out excesses, abuses, and culture of impunity exhibited by some personnel.
And as a first measure, IGP Baba promised to give community policing a prime place under his leadership, a plan Osun state Governor Isiaka Oyetola believed remains the best way out of the nation’s security challenge.
Osinbajo tasks Baba
Speaking at the event, Vice President Osinbajo said: “You must stamp out the excesses, abuses, and the culture of impunity illustrated by some elements of the force which provoke public outrage against the institution.”
He said, under the leadership of the new boss, the police must rebuild the broken bridges of trust with the public and regain the confidence of the citizenry.
The VP also stressed the need for community policing as a way of securing the lives of Nigerians.
He said implementation of the community policing policy and reconceptualising policing should be carried out in partnership with local communities and by officers who are members of these localities.
“Your selection by Mr. President follows a rigorous process where all eligible Deputy Inspectors-General of Police and Assistant Inspectors-General of police were considered. The president then appointed you as the most senior qualified and eligible officer.
“This is a departure from the past when the selection of the new Inspector General of Police often meant the immediate retirement of a cohort of senior police officers whose vast experience and training would no longer be available to the country.
“This appointment, which is largely on the basis of seniority and competence, will ensure that you have access to professional and experienced officers to support you in your new role.
“You are assuming office at a very turbulent time in the life of our people. There are multiple threats to law, order and public safety. The role of law enforcement and particular that of the police force as primary agency charged with maintaining law and order has never been more important. The police is our institution of first resort, the first line of defence against crime and anarchy and the first sign of the strength of the state.
“Last year, Mr. President signed the new Police Act, the first police reform legislation to be enacted in almost 50 years. The Act is the centre-piece of our commitment to reinventing the police as an institution that we can all be proud of. It articulates this administration’s vision of the modern competent police force as an institution committed to the preservation of human rights and human dignity and protection of the public against all criminal threats.
“The challenges before you are indeed onerous and will test your mettle; the organisation you are leading is one that is itself facing several challenges. Your officers work still in extremely difficult conditions. And some face the threat of physical harm by terrorists and hostile non-state actors while in the line of duty but they have lived up to expectations.
“There is no question at all that there is a lot that needs to be done. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. Under your leadership, the police must now rebuild in some ways also the broken bridges of trust to the public and regain the confidence of the citizenry. This is an ongoing challenge, is an ongoing task that the police force and all of the senior members of the police force must take on as a responsibility, that of the continual process of building trust to the Nigerian people,” he said.
My plan – Baba
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the event, IGP Baba said Nigerians would see improvement from where his predecessor stopped.
“You will see improvement from where my predecessor has left. I came in at a very challenging time. I know it. I recognise it and I will work on how to improve from where my predecessor has left. I have been a member of the management team. We have tried to do our best, but it’s not enough. There is room for improvement,” he said.
Asked if the strategies would will change, the acting IGP said: “Definitely, we are going to rejig our operational strategies.”
On equipment and manpower, he said: “We have the blessings of Mr. President and we are hoping to get more of what we have requested through the Police Trust Fund very quickly. Nigerians should expect improvement on the security situation.
“And Nigerians should also collaborate and cooperate with us. With all the inadequacies we have, we still require everybody to be part of policing in this country. And that is why the emphasis on community policing will continue and the emphasis of collaborating with all other sister agencies will continue and we hope to have a better situation very soon.”
Asked how he hopes to improve on community policing from where his predecessor left, the police chief said: “We will continue to practicalise it. My predecessor has left at the theoretical stage, we have started practicalising it but we have not gone far and therefore all the methods of practicalising it have been put in place and we are going to continue with it in collaboration with other stakeholders.”
Speaking while taking over from his predecessor at the Force Headquarters, Baba said: “The task of restoring the primacy of the Nigeria Police in the internal security architecture of the country is the main challenge ahead of us.
“It is, however, a task that I am convinced we can surmount if we resolve as a people to partner and present a common front against the subversive and criminal elements who are the common enemies of our nation.
“I am also encouraged by the fact that the outgoing Inspector General of Police has laid a solid foundation and entrenched a culture of professional efficiency in the Force. These will stimulate me in my capacity as the new acting Inspector General of Police, to strengthen our strategies and provide the requisite leadership that will change the narratives in relation to our operational approach to the current security threats.”
Speaking further he said: “As IGP Adamu exits the Force, I call on you all to join me in celebrating one of the greatest policing icons of our time and to put on record our immense appreciation of his laudable contributions to the Nigeria Police Force.
“I am mindful of the yearnings of Nigerians for a policing system that will not only assure them of their safety, but treat them with civility and hold their human rights sacred. I promise to provide the highest possible level of professional and responsive leadership to meet this deserved aspiration.”
Oyetola on security challenges
Meanwhile, Osun state Governor Oyetola has x-rayed the country’s security challenges, saying the only way to confront them head-on was to decentralise Nigeria’s policing system to meet the nation’s current realities.
The governor spoke Wednesday at the 2nd Annual Colloquium of the Sultan Maccido Institute for Peace, Leadership and Development Studies, University of Abuja
While acknowledging the efforts of the federal government through the Police at establishing community policing, the governor said the intervention was inadequate as it is still being controlled from the centre.
Oyetola said the constitutional provision that assigns the role of Chief Security Officer to governors ought to have provided corresponding empowerment and control of the security agencies to them so they could perform their responsibilities as CSOs effectively.
He listed some sources of insecurity to include “poverty which creates a gulf between the rich and the poor; inequitable allocation of resources which pits one region against the other; injustice which makes offended parties resort to self-help and consequently take up arms against state; illiteracy which makes innocent citizens willing tools at the hands of unscrupulous elite and elements; youth unemployment which makes able-bodied; and educated youths susceptible to crime, among others.”
He also described security, governance, and sustainable economic development as the tripod upon which a nation’s prosperity and wellbeing stand, adding that criminality has no religion or ethnicity.
On Amotekun, the South-west security organ, the governor insisted the security outfit is a child of necessity complementing the conventional security agencies to effectively tackle armed banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery among other crimes.
The security outfit, he said, became necessary because “the nation’s conventional security agencies are overstretched and sorely underfunded. The Police once confirmed the sorry state of its manpower when it said the Force needed 155,000 additional hands to effectively police the nation.
“The nation’s security agencies as presently constituted are too centralised and too far from the grassroots to adequately provide the required security for the nation. Worse still, they are unfamiliar with the terrains where crimes take place. It is our belief that our people understand the topography of their communities more and can govern them better.
“The nation’s expansive forests have unfortunately become the hideouts of bandits, kidnappers, and other criminals. With the establishment of Amotekun, the forests of the South West are now better policed. The issues that make Amotekun inevitable in the South West are the same in other regions of the nation. Other regions may wish to emulate the South West to put structures in place to rid their regions of crime.
“Our recent experience where the attempt to confront armed banditry headlong in the North resulted in their incursion into the South West and other regions that were erroneously perceived to be immune from the insecurity challenge is proof that each region has to be adequately policed for the region to know peace.”