THE question is more about what to do with our police since we cannot do without the police. Daily, the concerns grow as the public watches the police unable to protect it, or even protect themselves. Most of the time, police responses to criticisms come in form of explanation, even justification, of what is obviously a display of ineptitude on their part.
SPASMODIC reactions of the police cannot be accepted as a strategy for attaining meaningful policing. The apoplectics of these reactions are more unforgivable. Four days after two Americans, who were arriving in Lagos, were robbed in Lagos traffic, police swung into action. They arrested 30 people whom they have charged them to court. The police are working, aren’t they?
WHEN the news of the robbery broke, the police could have been embarrassed that foreigners were involved. The arrest of the 30 suspects approximates to fulfilling the promise to arrest the suspect. Suddenly, police presence in the area has increased. Police absence in the area would return in a matter of days. It would take another attack on important people for the police to wake up from its self-imposed slumber.
ANYWHERE there is a traffic jam becomes the scene of a robbery, especially in Lagos. The time of the day is not an important consideration for the robbers. Constructions around Oshodi slow down traffic. The robbers know this very well, and they take advantage.
THE police have advised people to take alternative routes. What happens when attacks occur on those routes? Do the police study crime patterns? Why are they always taken by surprise when things happen? Have they noticed that the trend is for increase in crimes towards the end of the year?
ALL that the police need to do is to read the newspapers from October any year. Without the dates and a few differences in details, reports about crimes all over the country are about the same. Have the police learnt about that? The situation is not peculiar to Lagos. The difference is that higher media presence means that crimes may get more media attention in Lagos.
COMPLAINTS are always on the increase about the under-funding of the police. Poor training, out-dated and inadequate equipment, pay welfare and their low numbers are among the reasons for poor policing. There also issues of the structure of the police which take orders from Abuja, and not the governor.
IT would seem that crimes have outgrown the capacity, including willingness, of the police to do anything about them. Intelligence, which is key to the work of the police, is rarely mentioned when discussing the failings of the police.
LAGOS State Commissioner of Police EdgalImohimi talks more about traffic management than crime management. He visited Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) with a long list of how to ease traffic at the danger spots to quell the attacks. He intends to deploy 6,000 supernumerary (SPY) police to assist in traffic management.
THE issue is crime. If Lagos State remains an example, the deficiencies of current policing would be obvious. The Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), annually contributes to the funding of the police. It donates boats, helicopters, vehicles and, last month, donated 120 generating sets to Lagos’ 107 divisions and 13 commands.
EXPENDITURES like these are not reflected in the quality of policing of expected from the police. The Commissioner of Police’s promise to cut down crimes by 30 per cent in two months seems a mirage. Crimes appear to be on the rise. The police act only when important members of society are affected. The capacity to act for the common good has deserted the police.
In August this year,the National Bureau of Statistics, in conjunction with a UN agency conducted a poll that rated the police the most corrupt institution in Nigeria. The judiciary was second. What a combination! The police promptly denied the report, stating that the claims were not empirically proven.
THE police are equally in denial of the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI), which ranked the police the worst of the 127 such agencies it studied. Nigeria was 127th, though the study excluded countries where there were conflicts or inadequate data. The International Police Science Association, (IPSA), prepared the report.
IT is not a consolation that “Sub-Saharan Africa is home to seven of the 10 worst performing countries, with Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Uganda all being ranked in the bottom five. These four countries performed poorly across all four domains”.
While “Sub-Saharan African countries have police officer, armed forces, and private security rates well below the global average,” they also have “average prison occupancy rate of 166 per cent, well above the global average.”
MORE condemnations of the police follow: “Nigeria was the worst performing country on the WISPI, with a score of 0.255. Nigeria scored poorly across all four domains, and had the worst score of any country in the Index on the process and outcomes domains. All of its domain scores were in the bottom 10 countries. Nigeria had an average sized police force, and a relatively small military and private security sector. However, while Nigeria’s prison occupancy rate was about 100 per cent, it was still below the Index average of 133 per cent, and significantly lower than the regional average of 168 per cent.
“POLICE and judicial system effectiveness is a serious issue in Nigeria. General corruption was high, according to the Control of Corruption indicator, and 81 per cent of Nigerian respondents to the Global Corruption Barometer admitted to paying a bribe to a police officer in the last year.”
IF these do not worry anyone, the waning confidence in the police should cause some worries. “Only 0.06 per cent of thefts were reported to police. Unsurprisingly, the Rule of Law index found that military and police officials are likely to use their public positions for private gain, the report said. People seem to report incident to police, where the reports were requirements to obtain other services, otherwise they would carry on with their lives.
TYPICALLY, the tendency would be to treat these matters if they affect the police and not Nigerians. The police are ours. Nigerians suffer the consequences of the failure of the police, a central institution for peace, security, and creation of favourable economic climate. It is not up to the police to care themselves of their obvious inadequacies which militate against their ability to serve the public.
AN over-hauling of the police to make them effective, efficient, and able to secure Nigeria, is overdue. It is no longer a matter for claims and counter claims.
WITHOUT changes in structures, functions, forms of the police, every resource allocated to them would be wasted, and cannot improve their efficiency. The billions of Naira governments, organisations and individual invest in the police would remain wastes and sources of further frustrations.