By Albert Akpor, Evelyn Usman and Ifeanyi Okolie
IN the year ended 2009, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) like every other security agency was faced with the usual immediate challenges of protecting life and property, detecting and preventing the commission of crimes.Â And like every other year, the force could neither be said to have fared well nor performed abysmally.Â
With a numerical strength of about 357, 000 workforce in a country with over 150 million people, (short of UN policing policy of one policeman to 400 civilians) very harsh environment to operate in coupled with inadequate tools to work,Â the police force unarguably;Â did face enormous set back in the discharge of its responsibilities.
In the year under review, the performance of the Nigeria Police Force which witnessed two Inspectors-General;( Mr. Mike Okiro who handed over the baton half way into the year to Mr. Ogbonna Onovo) was more of win some, lose some despite the zeal and promises the duo started off with.
The menace of armed robbery seemed to have defied all known solution and has continued to constitute a major headache for the Nigeria Police Force across the country.Â Urban and highway armed robberies resulting in deaths of both policemen and civilians still remain a mystery that the police authorities have not been able to demystify.
Except for Lagos and a few Northen states, other states like Oyo, Imo, Ogun,Â Â EdoÂ Port Harcourt,Â Delta Abuja the federal capital territory recorded the highest incidents of armed robbery in 2009.Â Statics handed over by the Force Public Relations Officer, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Emma Ojukwu showed a total number of 400 officers were gunned down by hoodlums while performing their duty of protecting life and property.
For instance, at the Federal capital territory alone, the commissioner of Police Mr. John Haruna disclosed that 95 policemen including sixteen women lost their lives between January and December 2009.Â Most of the deaths he said occurred on duty.Â Â But the police too rose to the challenge, killing no fewer than 5, 176 armed robbers nationwide during exchange of gunfire.Â Several arrest were also made.
In Lagos state, the police actually excelled in the area of crime fighting in 2009 compared to the previous years.Â This may have been largely due to the proactive and intelligence driven police strategy put in place by the commissioner of police CP Marvel Akpoyibo.Â During the year under review, the command recorded 44 armed robbery incidents out which was 6 attempted bank robberies.
The police killed 114 of the robbers, arrested 336, recovered 407 arms from the suspects and also removed 720 stolen vehicles.Â It is not therefore, wrong to say that the police performed below average nationwide in this regard.
Rating: + 5 Kidnapping
Security experts have described kidnapping as a new development in criminality in the country blaming politicians largely for it.
The incidents of kidnapping actually reared its ugly head in mid 2007 with the kidnap of two Chinese nationals, Nia Guigiang Eric and Feng Shenyi and a Nigeria, Sylvester Unigwe all employees of Innoson companies in Nnewi Anambra state.
Thereafter, it became a common place with the kidnap of hghly placed individuals including politicians and businessmen.Â According to a report released by the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame in July 2009, Nigeria recorded a total of 512 kidnapping from January 2008 to June 2009 with 30 persons involved losing their lives.
From the report, Eastern Nigeria topped the list.Â Specifically, Abia was reported to have topped the list with 110 kidnap incidents and 353 cases.Â 109 suspects were arrested, 41 prosecution was secured while 1 person died in the process.
Delta state recorded 44 cases, while the police was able to secure 43 release of the cases, 27 arrests were made, 31 prosecution was procured while 1 person lost his life.Â This is closely followed by Akwa Ibom state with 40 cases.Â Dramatically, the police rose to the challenge and secured the release of all the cases.Â It arrested 18 persons and equally secured 11 prosecutions.
The police really showed enormous gallantry in cracking cases of kidnapping.Â In July, 2009, it was able to secure the release one of the kidnapped Chinese national and a Nigerian earlier kidnapped arresting the kingpin named Innocent Orji alias â€œB Stone Generalâ€ in military uniforms.
The Inspewctor-General of Police Mr. Ogbonna Onovo said when a search was conducted at the Ekeli Eda in Afiko local government area,Â Ebonyi state criminal hideout of the suspects, 43 of them were rounded up adding that they have confessed being brains behind several kidnap cases in south east Nigeria including the attacks.Â It was however discovered that one the Chinese nationals, Feng Shenyi was murdered and buried in Owutu Edda also in Afikpo.Â The police was able to discovr his grave and had the body exhumed.
The police also cracked several kidnapped and extortion cases including that of Marian Ozobu, a Magistrate in Enugu in April 2009; the south east regional manager of GTB, Mr. Kingsley Osuala, Madam grace Mamah and arrested 7 suspects, amongst others.
Also the only case recorded in Lagos stateduring which three foreigners were kidnapped was successful cracked.Â The suspect were gunned down in cross fire with the police while a whopping N30m earlier demanded and paid was recovered intact.
Rating: +7 Unresolved high profile killing
The Nigeria police have continually shown that it is really unfit to unravel high profile killings in the country.Â Â From the gruesome murder of Mr. Dele Giwa, to Chief Bola Ige, Chief Harry Marshal, Barnabas and his wife Abigail Igwe, Engineer Funsho Williams, Mr. Ogbonnaya Uche, member of Thisday editorial board, Mr. Abayomi Ogundeji, Godwin Agbroko and the most recent, the Assistant News editor of the Guardian newspapers; the police have failed woefully in its civic responsibility to the nation.
This is grossly a minus to the present Inspector-General of Police IGP O novoâ€™s claim of intelligence-led and proactive policing strategy.
Rating: -1 Religious/communal crisis
The year 2009 was with a litany of religious cum political crises which claimed several lives and millions of naira worth property destroyed.
Early in the year, the political crisis in Jos which later degenerated into a sectarian crisisone shook the nation to its very foundation claiming several lives including those of defenceless members of the NYSC.Â Â Then came also a communal clash in Makurdi, the Benue state capital and closely followed by the celebrated Boko Haram in Bauch state which almost spred to other states but for the prompt intervention of security agencies.Â Other crises included that generated by the re-run election in Ekiti between the ruling party, PDP and AC candidate in the state.
In Ogun state, another communal crisis also claimed lives including that of an Assistant Commissioner of Police ACP Omolodun Oladokun and the destruction of property.Â Ideally, the Nigeria police Force NPF showed a high of professionalism in the crisis that erupted in the year under review.Â In all the cases, policemen lost their lives while trying to quell the mayhem.
However, the inability of the police to detect and nib in the bud all the religious crisis and the killing of the leader of Boko Haram was essentially incongruous with investigative policing.Â With the death of this religious sect leader, it became reasonably impossible for the police to get to the root of the matter.
Rating: -2 Human rights abuse
Aside the recent amnesty international report of wanton ex-tra judicial killings and gross violation of human rights, the Nigeria police unarguably showed no regard for the fundamental human rights of the bloody civilians.Â Â There were cases of unlawful arrest and indefinite detention of suspects in police custody across the country.
At the federal special ant- robbery squad Adeniji Adele, Lagos,Â over 300 suspects were detained in an open cell exposing them to the vagaries of the weather.Â Some of these suspects were investigated to had committed no offence warranting such a prolonged detention.Â Curiously this is happened against the backdrop of this present police administrationâ€™s vow to respect the rights of the individual.
Recently, a human right activist, comrade Orbe Igwe was arrested and brutalized by detectives attached to the Fed. SARS over a spurious allegation of theft which was later found to be false.
Rating: -1 Projection for 2010 and beyond
In the face of these glaring shortcomings, the Nigeria police force,Â it is expected has mapped modalities that would bring about positive change as we move into the new year.Â The incumbent Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo in his maiden speech assuredÂ Nigerians that he was not a man of too many words but ready for action.
The Nigeria Police under him he said would be accountable to the people.Â To this end, he assured that he would focus on capacity building, training and re training, welfare of officers and men, respect for fundamental human rights, robust relationship with the local community and an intelligence led policing.
â€œIn order to fulfil its obligations as the primary law enforcement institution in the country, the force under my leadership is focussed on returning the Nigerian police to its core value of discipline and professionalism which are fundamental to our main roles of crime prevention and maintenance of law and order.
I have concentrated on capacity building of the entire personnel of the force in order to propel the Nigeria Police to meet the challenges of the 21st century in the area of policing.Â The human rights section of the force is being strengthened with a view to aligning the activities of members of the force with internationally acceptable standard.
The force is emphasising the importance of micro-accountability as a way of subjecting the conduct of police officers to the dictates of the rule of law.Â To this end, I have established a special monitoring squad to checkmate the excesses of overzealous and erring personnel.â€
Good intension,Â one might be moved to say; but stakeholders have argued that the police force needs more than what the IGP Onovo has assured.Â It has been said that Nigeria needs a well- catered for police force with a sense of belonging.
By this, it is said that adequate financing, enhanced condition of service adequate provision of operational tools, conducive environment, capacity building and professional personnel for the police would greatly improve productivity.
For instance, security experts have argued that the reason why the police have not been able to unravel high profile killing in the country was largely due to the fact that it does not have the prerequisite tools to work with.Â The forensic laboratory is non-functional to say the least.
The police force cannot boast of a qualified pathologist.Â It does not have functional and well equipped hospital like the effective Army, Navy and the Air Force to treat high profile suspects, like the recent parcel bomber in Lagos, Mr. Olayiwola Ahmed.Â Aside this other aids to crime prevention and detection like the CCTV camera would greatly help in tracking criminals at the point of committing the crime.