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Blaming the Police

DR. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame, Minister of  Police Affairs, became more famous last week when he spent a lot of time blaming the police for the country’s poor security. He provided no statistics, other than talking about rising crime rate.

It is difficult to know what angered the minister that he condemned the police in a manner that undermined his own performance.

He blamed the police for, “increase in current rate of crime across the nation, extra-judicial killing, human rights violations, robberies, high profile assassinations and deliberate failure to comply with government directives.”

Ordinarily, these charges were strong enough for Dr. Lame to announce a change in the police leadership. This long talk was another in the various efforts of those in government to absolve themselves of blames as the nation gropes for survival.

“No responsible government would fold its arm and watch helplessly as its citizens are being maimed when there is a police force in place,” said Dr. Lame, who pointed out that one of the areas the police ignored government directives was over the withdrawal of police orderlies from those who should not have them.
“The current security situation in the country, to say the least, is condemnable and unacceptable to the government and good citizens of our great nation,” Dr. Lame said. This exchange would not produce any meaningful results.

Ogbonnaya Onovo, the Inspector-General of Police, who was at the minister’s briefing, noted economic, social, religious factors, increased youth unemployment, corruption, unguarded display of wealth, as issues that promote crimes. He also mentioned poor funding, outdated equipment, and low motivation of the force as deterrents to its abilities.

“There is no country that is crime free in the world but we are operating under unbearable conditions. We saw the kinds of arms and ammunition that came out of the Niger Delta. We want to be properly armed and kitted but the equipment is not there. The Nigeria Police is trying its best given the limited resources at our disposal,” Mr. Onovo countered.

Dr. Lame is right about the inefficiency of the police he superintends. In most countries, if the police is as bad as the picture he painted, and the Nigeria Police is probably worse, IGP Onovo and the Minister of Police Affairs would have lost their job long ago.

What are his solutions to the challenges the police face? Are the issues he raised new? What has the government he served for three years done about these challenges? What is the content of the police reform that has not changed anything?

It is the responsibility of the minister to mobilise resources for the effectiveness of the police. If the police has failed, Dr. Lame has failed too. It is worse if Dr. Lame no longer realises he is responsible for the police.


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