The recent directive by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, for the immediate withdrawal of police personnel attached to some personalities, namely, billionaire businessman, Emeka Offor; former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode; some clerics and companies across the country, is the right foot forward in the ongoing reform of the Nigeria Police Force.
The directive, which affected 60 individuals, corporate and religious bodies including the Christ Embassy, Think Nigeria First Initiative, Uche Sylva International, Stanel Groups, KYC Holding, among others, included former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; Sen Lado Yakubu, Amb. Yuguda Bashir, Uche Chukwu, Sen. Boroface Ajayi, Mutiu Nicholas, Sen. Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Edozie Madu, David Adesanya, Chris Giwa, Chief Godwin Ekpo, Chief Pius Akinyelure and others.
This was contained in a letter with reference No. CB: 4001/IGP.SEC/ABJ/VOL.116/32 dated November 4, addressed to commissioners of police, Police Mobile Force, Special Protection Unit and all commissioners of police in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory by the IGP.
Adamu had in a police wireless message dated October 21, 2020, addressed to all State Commissioners of Police ordered them to immediately withdraw the personnel attached to individuals, warning that “any commander who violates this order will bear the consequences.”
But in the latest directive signed by the Principal Staff Officer to the IGP, DCP Idowu Owohunwa, on November 4, the police listed the names of VIPs affected by the withdrawal of orderlies.
The letter titled ‘Immediate withdrawal of police personnel attached to unentitled corporate entities/individuals,’ read in part: “The attention of the IGP has been drawn to the fact that the police personnel attached to the corporate bodies and personalities are yet to be withdrawn despite extant directives to that effect.
“In line with the subsisting order, the IG directs that you withdraw all the PMF, SPU, CTU, or conventional police operations attached to the affected companies or individuals in any of their locations across the country with immediate effect.”
The IG further directed the senior officers to submit a report confirming compliance not later than November 10.
A retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Adedayo Adeoye had endorsed the withdrawal of the policemen attached to politicians, noting that the Special Protection Unit responsible for giving out police orderlies should be scrapped.
He argued that the politicians have more policemen than the majority of Nigerians, noting that the rich could afford to hire private security for their protection.
Adeoye described the deployment of policemen to guard VIPs as a waste of manpower, stressing that only those constitutionally required to have police orderlies such as the President, Vice President, Senate President, the Speaker, House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and state governors should enjoy special police protection.
The recent #EndSARS protests across the country which had compounded the rising insecurity such as the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, armed robbery, herders/farmers crisis, inter-ethnic and religious strife have overstretched the capacity of the police to secure Nigerians. Without a doubt, policing in Nigeria is beset with many challenges.
It has been argued that with the population of about 200 million people policed by 371,800 policemen, Nigeria is under-policed.
However, a recent report by Rita Abrahamsen and Michael Williams of the University of Wales argues that the staff strength of the Nigeria Police more than meets UN’s recommendation with a police-to-citizen ratio of 1 to 400. They contend that Nigeria is “over-policed and under-secured.”
The report says police officers are “often unable to enforce law and order.” It says police are themselves the source of insecurity by engaging in “criminal activities, particularly corruption and extortion.”
The inspector general of police had said the loss of confidence between the police and Nigerians was one of the major challenges hampering effective discharge of the force responsibility.
He said introduction of community policing was part of the efforts aimed at rebuilding the lost confidence.
Adamu, who was represented at a policy dialogue on policing organised by the House of Representatives to collate views on a bill to amend the Police Service Commission Act by DIG Olushola Oyebande, said management of the olice was working on regaining public trust.
He said: “We all know that constitutionally, the police have legal rights to live and legally speaking, the constitution guarantees a position where they can even use their fire arms to defend themselves when the situation demands.
Within all that, we have asked them not to do anything that will bring colossal loss to members of the public. Going forward, there’s a lot of confidence building mechanism that’s being put in place to retrain the police to bring back confidence.
It is on the backdrop of the rising insecurity and the inability of the police to perform its statutory responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the citizens that we commend the withdrawal of police orderlies from some personalities.
The policy will, no doubt, boost the police presence and vigilance in public places and neigbourhoods, generally, and thus enhance security around the country.